Contemporary Islam

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 193–210 | Cite as

Understanding Islamic aid flows to enhance global humanitarian assistance

  • David TittensorEmail author
  • Matthew Clarke
  • Tezcan Gümüş


In 2008 the then Organisation of the Islamic Conference established its own Islamic Cooperation Humanitarian Affairs Department (ICHAD) as an alternative to the OECD DAC. Subsequently, aid from ICHAD predominantly goes to Muslims. This is most likely because zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam and regarded as ibadah (worship), from which non-Muslims are excluded. As such, this paper will examine the theology and ethics of giving in Islam (zakat and sadaqa) and explore these aid flows and, and whether there is room for a more inclusive interpretation that can lead to greater integration and co-operation.


Islam Aid Humanitarianism Ethics Zakat Sadaqa 


  1. ABC News. (2011). Aid and rescue offers for Japan quake.
  2. AFP. (2011). OIC changes name. Dawn.
  3. Ahad, A. (2011). Embassy officials hand over relief goods. Business Recorder.
  4. Alesina, A., & Dollar, D. (2000). Who gives foreign aid to whom and why? Journal of Economic Growth, 5(1), 33–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Al-Monitor. (2017). Iran, Turkey to send aid to Myanmar’s Muslims.
  6. Alterman, J. B., & von Hippel, K. (2007). Preface. In J. B. Alterman & K. von Hippel (Eds.), Understanding Islamic charities. Center for Strategic and International Studies: Washington.Google Scholar
  7. APA. (2011). Azerbaijan to render $1 million aid to Japan.
  8. Arab News. (2015). Egypt, Yemen are top recipients of Saudi aid.
  9. Arab News. (2017). Saudi ambassador to Turkey: KSA has stood by Rohingyas for 70 years.
  10. Arakaki, R. K. (2011). Indonesia's response to the 2011 great East Japan earthquake. Asian Politics & Policy, 3(4), 665–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Atia, M. (2011). Islamic approaches to development: A case study of zakat, Sadaqa and Qurd al Hassan in contemporary Egypt. In Paper presented at the 8th international conference on Islamic economics and finance, Center for Islamic Economics and Finance. Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies: Qatar Foundation.Google Scholar
  12. BBC News. (2010). UK and US freeze Islamic charity.
  13. Bellers, J. (1993). Aiding their Moslim friends: Saudi Arabia’s development policy’. Development and Cooperation, 4, 28–29.Google Scholar
  14. Benthall, J. (1999). Financial worship: The Quranic injunction to almsgiving. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 5(1), 27–42.Google Scholar
  15. Berthélemy, J.-C., & Tichit, A. (2004). Bilateral donors’ aid allocation decisions—A three-dimensional panel analysis. International Review of Economics and Finance, 13(3), 253–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bilgin, P., & Bilgiç, A. (2011). Turkey’s “new” foreign policy toward Eurasia. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 52(2), 173–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bokhari, Y., Chowdhury, N., & Lacey, R. (2014). A good day to bury a bad charity: The rise and fall of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation. In R. Lacey & J. Benthall (Eds.), Gulf Charities and Islamic Philanthropy in the ‘Age of Terror' and Beyond (pp. 199–230). Berlin: Gerlach Press.Google Scholar
  18. Burnside, C., & Dollar, D. (2000). Aid, policies, and growth. The American Economic Review, 90(4), 847–868.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Burr, M., & Collins, R. O. (2006). Alms for jihad: Charity and terrorism in the Islamic world. In Cambridge. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Casciani, D. (2003). Islamic charity cleared of Hamas link. BBC News.
  21. Clarke, M. (2011). Development and religion: Theology and practice. UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Clarke, M. (2013). Understanding the nexus between religion and development. In M. Clarke (Ed.), Handbook of research on religion and development (pp. 1–13). London: Edward Elgar Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Clarke, M. (2014). Islamic international aid flows for poverty alleviation. In M. Clarke & D. Tittensor (Eds.), Islam and development: Exploring the invisible aid economy (pp. 51–67). Farnham Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  24. Dodd, V. (2008). Controversial Muslim cleric banned from Britain. The Guardian.
  25. Fanany, I., & Fanany, R. (2014). Religion and post-disaster development. In M. Clarke & D. Tittensor (Eds.), Islam and Developmet: Exploring the invisible aid economy (pp. 153–171). Farnham Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  26. Fauzia, A. (2013). Faith and the state: A history of Islamic philanthropy in Indonesia. Leiden: Brill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Feeny, S., & McGillivray, M. (2008). What determines bilateral aid allocations? Evidence from time series data. Review of Development Economics, 12(3), 515–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ferris, E. (2005). Faith-based and secular humanitarian organizations. International Review of the Red Cross, 87(858), 311–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fidan, H., & Nurdun, R. (2008). Turkey’s role in the global development assistance community: The case of TIKA (Turkish international cooperation and development agency). Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, 10(1), 93–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fleck, R. K., & Kilby, C. (2010). Changing aid regimes? U.S. foreign aid from the cold war to the war on terror. Journal of Development Economics, 91(2), 185–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Fuchs, A., Nunnenkamp, P., & Öhler, H. (2015). Why donors of foreign aid do not coordinate: The role of competition for export markets and political support. The World Economy, 38(2), 255–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. GHA. (2013). Global humanitarian assistance report 2013. Bristol: Development Initiatives.Google Scholar
  33. GHA. (2014). Global humanitarian assistance report 2014. Bristol: Development Initiatives.Google Scholar
  34. GHA. (2015). Global humanitarian assistance report 2015. Bristol: Development Initiatives.Google Scholar
  35. GHA. (2016). Global humanitarian assistance report 2016. Bristol: Development Initiatives.Google Scholar
  36. GHA. (2017). Global humanitarian assistance report 2017. Bristol: Development Initiatives.Google Scholar
  37. Halilovich, H. (2011). (per)forming 'Trans-local' homes: Bosnian diaspora in Australia. In M. Valenta & S. P. Ramet (Eds.), The Bosnian diaspora: Integration in transnational communities (pp. 63–81). Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  38. Harmer, A., & Cotterrell. (2005). Diversity in donorship: The changing landscape of official humanitarian aid HPG Research Report 20. London: Humanitarian Policy Group.Google Scholar
  39. Hatch, D. (2012). Indonesia, emerging aid donor. The Interpreter.
  40. Hausmann, J. (2014). Turkey as a donor country and potential partner in triangular cooperation Discussion Paper. Bonn: Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik.Google Scholar
  41. Hausmann, J., & Lundsgaarde, E. (2015). Turkey’s Role in Development Cooperation. United Nations University Centre for Policy Research: United Nations University.Google Scholar
  42. Hoffstaedter, G., & Tittensor, D. (2013). Religion and development: Prospects and pitfalls of faith-based organizations. In M. Clarke (Ed.), Handbook of research on development and religion (pp. 402–412). London: Edward Elgar Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Hürriyet Daily News. (2017). Erdoğan urges Muslim countries to help Rohingya.
  44. Ibn Baz. (1992). Ruling on paying Zakah to those stricken by famine in Somalia. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from
  45. Ibn Baz. (1995). A call for supporting the High Commission for Aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from
  46. İHH İnsani Yardım Vakfı. (2018a). Sıkça Sorulan Sorular. Retrieved 24 January 2018, from
  47. İHH İnsani Yardım Vakfı. (2018b). Tarihçe. Retrieved 24 January, 2018, from
  48. Imam Muhmammad Bin Yazeed Ibn Majah Al-Qazwini. (2007). English Translation of Sunan Ibn Majah (N. al-Khattab, Trans. Vol. 3). Riyadh: Darussalam.Google Scholar
  49. IRIN. (2011). Analysis: Arab and Muslim aid and the West “ two china elephants”.
  50. Ishigami, M. (2012). Kuwait's quake aid deeply appreicated - Japan red cross chief. Kuwait News Agency (KUNA). Accessed 15 Nov 2016.
  51. Kaag, M. (2007). Aid, Umma, and politics: Transnational Islamic NGOs in Chad. In B. F. Soares & R. Otayek (Eds.), Islam and Muslim politics in Africa (1st ed., pp. 85–102). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kochuyt, T. (2009). God, gifts and poor people: On charity in Islam. Social Compass, 56(1), 98–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Krafess, J. (2005). The influence of the Muslim religion in humanitarian aid. International Review of the Red Cross, 87(858), 327–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Latief, H. (2014). Contesting almsgiving in post-new order Indonesia. American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, 31(1), 16–50.Google Scholar
  55. Lepeska, D. (2015). Turkey's rise from aid recipient to mega-donor. Al-jazeera.
  56. Madelung, W. (2016). al-Zamak̲h̲s̲h̲arī. Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. doi:
  57. Mansour, K., & Ezzat, H. R. (2009). Faith-based action in development and humanitarian work. In A. Kumar, J. A. Scholte, M. Kaldor, M. Glasius, H. Seckinelgin, & H. Anheier (Eds.), Global civil society 2009: Poverty & activism (pp. 118–145). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. McGillivray, M., & Feeny, S. (2015). Aid, growth, policies and fragility. In B. M. Arvin & B. Lew (Eds.), Handbook on the economics of foreign aid (pp. 375–389). UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Messick, B. (1997). Genealogies of reading and the scholarly cultures of Islam. In S. C. Humphreys (Ed.), Cultures of scholarship (pp. 387–409). USA: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  60. Middle East Monitor. (2017). Erdogan to Muslim countries: ‘use every means available’ to stop ‘cruelty’ against Rohingya.
  61. Mosley, P. (1987). Overseas aid: Its Defence and reform. UK: Wheatsheaf Books.Google Scholar
  62. Murata, S., & Chittick, W. C. (1994). The vision of Islam. New York: Paragon House.Google Scholar
  63. Nereim, V., Shahine, A. (2018). Saudi war cost in Yemen just rose after $2 billion deposit. Bloomberg.
  64. Neumayer, E. (2003). What factors determine the allocation of aid by Arab countries and multilateral agencies? Journal of Development Studies, 39(4), 134–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Neumayer, E. (2004). Arab-related bilateral and multilateral sources of development finance: Issues, trends, and the way forward. The World Economy, 27(2), 281–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. OECD. (2005). The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action.
  67. OECD. (2017a). Development co-operation report 2017: Data for development Paris: OECD publishing.
  68. OECD. (2017b). Interactive summary charts for all DAC members and total DAC. Retrieved 13 February, 2018, from
  69. OIC. (2005). Ten-year Programme of action to meet the challenges facing the Muslim Ummah in the 21st century. Makkah: Organization of Islamic Conference.Google Scholar
  70. OIC. (2010). Department Of Humanitarian Affairs (ICHAD). Retrieved 12 November 2015, from
  71. Ordoni, A. M. (1992). Fatima the gracious (M. S. Rahmati, Trans.). Qum: Anssarian Publications.Google Scholar
  72. Otayek, R. (2009). Religion and globalisation: Sub-Saharan Islam to conquer new territories. South African historical journal, 61(1), 21–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Peerzade, S. A. (1997). The definition and measurement of poverty: An integrated Islamic approach. The Pakistan Development Review, 36(1), 87–97.Google Scholar
  74. Petersen, M. J. (2015). For humanity or for the Umma? Aid and Islam in transnational Muslim NGOs. London: Husrt and Company.Google Scholar
  75. Qaradawi, Y. (2000). Fiqh al-zakāh: A Comparative Study of Zakah, Regulations and Philosophy in The Light Of Qur'an and Sunnah (M. Kahf, Trans. Vol. II). Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Centre for Research in Islamic Economics: King Abdulaziz University.Google Scholar
  76. Qutb, S. (2000). Social justice in Islam (J. B. Hardie, Trans.). New York: Islamic Publications International.Google Scholar
  77. Rahman, F. (2009). Major themes of the Qur'an. USA: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  78. Sadeq, A. A.-H. (2002). A survey of the institution of Zakah: Issues, theories and administration Discussion Paper, No.11. Jeddah: Islamic Development Bank.Google Scholar
  79. Scott-Joynt, J. (2003). Charities in terror fund spotlight. BBC News.
  80. Singer, A. (2006). Soup and sadaqa: Charity in Islamic societies. Historical Research, 79(205), 306–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Svoboda, E., Zyck, S. A., Osman, D., Hashi, A. (2015). Islamic humanitarianism? The evolving role of the organisation for Islamic cooperation in Somalia and beyond HPG Working Paper: Overseas Development Institute.Google Scholar
  82. Tittensor, D., & Clarke, M. (2014). Introduction: The invisible aid sector. In M. Clarke & D. Tittensor (Eds.), Islam and development: Exploring the invisible aid economy (pp. 1–11). Farnham Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  83. Tokyay, M. (2017). Turkish aid agency offers a lifeline to Rohingya Muslims. Arab News,.
  84. Veccia Vaglieri, L. (2016). ʿAbd Allāh b. al-ʿAbbās. Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition.
  85. Villanger, E. (2007). Arab foreign aid: Disbursement patterns, aid policies and motives. Forum for Development Studies, 34(2), 223–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Watmough, S. P. (2017). Turkey, the Rohingya crisis and Erdoğan’s ambitions to be a global Muslim leader. The Conversation.
  87. Younas, J. (2008). Motivation for bilateral aid allocation: Altruism or trade benefits. European Journal of Political Economy, 24(3), 661–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts & EducationDeakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations