“It all started in this very city, with four people studying a PhD in Birmingham and nearby cities. A famine swept Sudan, and they felt responsibility towards their brothers and sisters in humanity. And they started Islamic Relief.
“As the RT Hon Justine Greening has said, the very small office that Islamic Relief started in is still there. You couldn’t even put a couple of chairs in there. This is how humble it started, but today it is the largest Muslim non-profit in the world. The difference between Islamic Relief and so many others is the donors, volunteers and the employees. You are the difference. You make the difference of Islamic Relief.
“When we talk about emergency preparedness, we reflect on the story of Prophet Yusuf. He had great foresight, and saved all of mankind when he learned there was going to be a drought in Egypt. He saved food for 7 years. With that emergency preparedness, as we call it now in international development jargon, he saved mankind. We also do that. We do it in cooperation with the government of Bangladesh, for example, because we know that most of the land is rarely above sea-level. So when we talk about development, Islamic Relief is different because we think about dignity. It’s at the heart of everything we do.
Allah said in the Qur’an: “We have dignified all of the children of Adam”.
“So we try to dignify people. Nobody wants to spread their hands to beg every day, and we’re not very proud or happy to go and feed somebody everyday. We try to make them independent so they wouldn’t need this again. We think about integrated sustainable development. This is about making people self-sufficient, because humanitarian support is unpredictable. So rather than going and building houses for people that they don’t want, we’ll think about a tent that is lighter that they can carry, with space-age technology, making it warmer in winter and cooler in summer. This is how we think. A little bit different than others because of how we care about the dignity of mankind. We don’t want people to have to spread their hands and beg for money or food anymore. We care about people so much.
“As the RT Hon Justine Greening also mentioned, as far as Syria is concerned, just last week I was visiting the border between Syria and Turkey. I visited a small humble hospital that they built there, using just wooden pieces. I met a woman with two burnt legs. Her house had been burnt down and her children were with her. Islamic Relief is spending on this particular issue, more than so many other countries, not just organisations. Islamic Relief has spent close to a $120million on this particular disaster – this catastrophe – that is affecting all of us as human beings.”
This speech was delivered by Islamic Relief Worldwide CEO as we welcomed the UK Secretary of State for International Development to our international office.