Does Faith Matter? An Examination of Islamic Relief’s Work with Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons
This paper analyses the experience of an international non-governmental organisation (INGO), Islamic Relief, in working with and for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Although much relief work is carried out by faith-based organisations worldwide, and although religious identity is often an important factor in understanding communities, little work has been done to examine the work of faith-based organisations in the field of development in general (see Tomalin 2006; Thomas 2005), much less in terms of refugee assistance in particular. This paper attempts to fill part of that gap by examining the work of Islamic Relief as a faith-based organisation (FBO) providing assistance to refugees and IDPs in multiple and diverse contexts. Discussions with Islamic Relief staff working in various contexts have demonstrated that in many cases Islamic Relief has an advantage over secular, Western and non-Muslim faith-based organisations in working with Muslim communities. However, in certain contexts, being identified as a ‘Muslim organisation’ may also complicate the experience of gaining entry into communities, especially with regard to local authorities and other INGOs. After providing a brief background of the issue of refugee protection in Islam as well as an overview of Islamic Relief’s work and the topic of faith in refugee studies, this paper will look more closely at these issues.
Kirmania, N, Ahmad Khan, A, Palmer, V (2008), Does Faith Matter?: An Examination of Islamic Relief’s Work with Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons [Online] Available: http://www.islamic-relief.org.uk/content/uploads/2013/09/Policy_Values_Islam_Refugees.pdf