A global alliance of civil society organisations and activists has featured Islamic Relief in a high-profile report, which this year examined issues around resourcing civil society.

Sadia Kidwai, policy and research analyst for Islamic Relief, explores our contribution to the ‘State of Civil Society Report 2015’ and reveals how our faith identity helps us deliver a world-class contribution to the fight against poverty and suffering.

In 2012, Islamic Relief Worldwide was the fifth largest private humanitarian fundraising organisation in the world, following only Médecins Sans Frontières, UNHCR, UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Despite the financial pressures placed on civil society organisations in recent years – with increasing need and squeezed resources, donor fatigue and economic recession – our income has continued to grow. Our Islamic identity is a key factor in sustaining this growth.

We enable Muslim donors to meet their obligations

A woman at prayer in Sudan, a country in which we have worked for over 30 years.

A woman at prayer in Sudan, a country in which we have worked for over 30 years.

Obligatory and voluntary charitable giving has an honoured status within Islamic tradition. We conduct most of our individual fundraising in countries with Muslim minorities. Often the largest Islamic-inspired humanitarian and development charity in these countries, we play a critical role in enabling Muslims to fulfil their charitable obligations through an accessible and professional service – particularly with zakat, Qurbani, and programmes for orphaned children.

We abide by the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and do not discriminate on the grounds of race, political affiliation, gender or belief – values which also find their roots in Islamic teachings. In addition, our Islamic identity and values, which are drawn directly from Qur’anic and Prophetic teachings, enables us to build strong relationships of trust with Muslim donors.

Islamic Relief and the Lutheran World Federation's joint project in Jordan.

Islamic Relief and the Lutheran World Federation’s joint project in Jordan.

We can reach communities in complex environments

Our ability to meet global standards on humanitarian principles, accountability and transparency, and financial conduct has helped us to grow valuable relationships with institutional donors. Our Islamic identity and humanitarian mission often enables us to gain the trust of community gatekeepers in complex environments. In Somalia, for example, we have been able to assist in various sensitive regions.

Our ability to access vulnerable communities also opens us up to partnerships with other faith-based or secular organisations, which can face barriers in accessing communities themselves in places such as Iraq, Pakistan, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Such partnerships also enable Islamic Relief to assist vulnerable people in countries such as the Central African Republic and South Sudan where our Islamic identity puts us at a disadvantage.

We influence global development agendas to fight poverty and suffering

Our CEO participating in a WEF panel discussion at Davos.

Our CEO participating in a WEF panel discussion at Davos.

We are at the forefront of growing interest within the humanitarian and development sector in the role of faith in helping to meet global development goals. Our training and educational resources on Islamic approaches to development influence high-level agendas, including within the UN, the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum.

Islamic Relief’s faith identity – together with our commitment to continually improving our efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability – enables us to engender evidence-based and long term trust with our supporters and partners. It ensures we remain a competitive, world-class humanitarian and development actor, rooted in the grassroots of communities worldwide, with a critical role in reducing poverty and suffering across the globe.

‘Identity-based giving: a case study of Islamic Relief’ was published in full last week by CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world.