40 Years with Islamic Relief

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“It’s like a large blue ball of yarn with an unravelling thread that traverses time and space to touch the hearts of millions. To signify our journey of friendships, new projects, and constant learning.” 

Long-term Islamic Relief Staff

There’s a blue thread you follow, and it has led you here. 

Over the past 40 years, you have joined Islamic Relief in moving towards a more compassionate and just world where no one is left behind. Thank you for your continued generosity and care!


Trusted to Deliver Since 1984

For four decades, our ability to create a positive impact in the communities we serve has earned the trust of our loyal donors and the incredible staff and volunteers who have taken this journey with us.

Since 1984, Islamic Relief has saved and transformed the lives of over 120 million people across 40 countries worldwide – including more than 17 million rights-holders in 2022 alone. 

Islamic Relief has an unwavering, faith-based approach to providing aid and a firm commitment to robust policies, accountability, and transparency. An example is our scholar-verified Zakat policy, which ensures your Zakat is in trusted hands, so your donation is not just a simple transaction but a means to uplift and transform! 

We value the communities we serve, centring their voices in our project's research and development phase to ensure their needs are prioritized and met. All this has earned Islamic Relief the trust that we will continue transforming your donations into lifesaving, life-changing aid for those who need it most.

A Brief History of Islamic Relief

Islamic Relief was founded in 1984 in Birmingham by medical student Hany El-Banna in response to the famine in East Africa. He and other young Muslim volunteers raised Islamic Relief's first funds to secure £135,000. They established three international projects in Islamic Relief's first year of operation, including two chicken farms, a shipment of biscuits and vitamins to Sudan, and a shipment of wheat flour to Mauritania.

Over the next five years, we started working in Mozambique, Iran, Pakistan, Malawi, Iraq, and Afghanistan, among others, responding primarily to emergencies but laying the groundwork for sustainable development programming. 

Today, Islamic Relief Worldwide is among the world’s largest relief and development charities. With operations in more than 40 countries, in 2022 alone, our emergency aid, long-term development, and advocacy work directly helped over 17.3 million people.

Imagine the Future

Our Vision

A more compassionate and just world where no one is left behind.

Our Mission 

To mobilize Canadians to transform more lives worldwide in the most trusted manner.

As Islamic Relief marks its 40th anniversary, we recognize that the world looks very different from 1984. Humanity is confronted by unprecedented challenges, including the climate crisis, erosion of rules-based international order, and economic inequality. 

These challenges are the leading root causes of poverty and vulnerability in communities worldwide, and they’re being sustained at a systemic level. 

To create lasting and profound change over the next ten years, Islamic Relief will continue to build long-term, innovative, and sustainable programs together with the rights-holders we serve. We remain committed to tackling the root causes of these issues and constantly improving our approach – this is why we’ll also focus on integrating advocacy into all aspects of our work.

Islamic Relief’s 10-Year Strategy

Inspired by our Islamic faith and the teachings of the Qur’an, Islamic Relief’s 10-year strategy, spanning 2023- 2033, is guided by the Maqasid Framework. The Arabic word ‘Maqasid’ means goal or purpose and emphasizes the sanctity of every individual’s life and dignity and their rights to security, health, a sustainable environment, food, shelter, and clean water.

Over the next ten years, we will continue our use of the Maqasid framework to tackle some of the unprecedented challenges our world is currently facing, with a stronger focus on:

  • Reducing vulnerability to humanitarian crises

  • Uplifting families and communities through food, health, education, and livelihoods 

  • Addressing global and local root causes of poverty

  • Raising funds, growing resources, and building the Islamic Relief Family 

  • Increasing our capacity as an organization to deliver our purpose

Our 10-year global strategy focuses on achieving three core outcomes:

  1. We will save lives and reduce vulnerability to humanitarian crises

  2. We will empower communities to tackle poverty and vulnerability

  3. We will advocate for change to the system to eliminate the global and local root causes of inequality.

Stories of Your Impact

“My dream is to become a fashion designer, so I enrolled in the tailoring department at my local college. However, amongst the 15 students in our class, we had to share one sewing machine. I realized that even when you are highly motivated, you need materials and equipment to try your hand at, gain the skills, develop them, and then improve. 

The new sewing machines we’ve been gifted have been a huge help! We only live once and if we do not give to people what we can give to them in due time we may not have this chance later on. This helps us understand that happiness comes from the ability to give to others what the Almighty grants us with His mercy!”

– Rayana, an 18 years old student enrolled in a sewing workshop in Chechnya where Islamic Relief is providing welding equipment and vocational support

“The shift from our old tattered tent to a house with a stable roof over our heads has brought so much comfort, security, and joy to us! This is not just a simple house but rather a place that carries within its walls our beautiful memories and our aspirations for a better future.”  

– Fadi’s father, a 52 years old rights-holder who was displaced as a result of the earthquakes in Syria and now owns his own home through our Syria Shelters project 

“When I put my eyes on the telescope for the first time in my life, I didn’t want to close them because of the fantastic and accurate details that I saw there! This was not available in my science classes in school because we have no telescope. This dream came true once I joined Islamic Relief’s Science Club at Rosol Centre. 

We go on educational trips with Islamic Relief, for example, we went on a trip to the university laboratory. When I went to school the next day, I told my teacher and classmates about what I had seen through the telescope when we put the onion slice on it. I really enjoyed that experience and can’t wait to become a scientist!”

– Lamar, 12 years old soon-to-be scientist in Gaza, a rights-holder in Islamic Relief’s Empowering Orphans and Vulnerable Children project in Gaza

Read our Newly Published 2023 Impact Report 

From Bangladesh to Ethiopia to Palestine to Syria and at home right here in Canada, you helped us deliver urgent help to 3.4 million people in need. 

Your Sadaqa, Zakat, and donations helped fund over 176 projects this year,

  • Sponsoring  24,000 orphans

  • Bringing emergency humanitarian aid to  750,000 people

  • Transforming the lives of 1.9 million people through sustainable food, clean water and livelihoods

Every donation you made this year helped fill someone’s heart with happiness. Thank you for your support in 2023! We look forward to another inspiring year of advocacy and change. 

Follow Your Donation

Did you know you can follow where your donations go? 


Click to watch our video series, Follow Your Donation, and read through our reports to see the impact of your donations, the people you’ve helped, and all the incredible stories that happen along the way.