Being part of an organization that is identified with the Muslim faith offers many rewards but also many challenges. One of the greatest challenges has been the increased suspicion that now surrounds the work of Muslim aid agencies since 9/11. While being identified as a Muslim organization may have made things difficult it is also something that some communities we work with value in us. For individuals such as me involved in work on the ground, it has made us more determined that humanitarian principles will win out.
The ‘baggage’ associated with the Islamic Relief logo varies from country to country. In Afghanistan where people are very wary of NGOs it opened some doors that would otherwise have remained shut. While in Bosnia and Kosovo it was looked upon negatively.
Personally I have always found working for an Islamic charity to offer a certain degree of personal comfort. It has also aided my interaction with local communities. I know that circumstances for Muslim charities have changed in recent years but I try to concentrate on ensuring that in an emergency situation aid is delivered effectively to those who need it most. This is the common cause of all those involved in humanitarian work and it should not be undermined.
One of the great advantages of working for a faith based charity such as ours is that you are also able to tear down negative stereotypes that are often associated with your faith. We deliver aid to all communities and faiths with no strings attached – and that gives me great personal satisfaction.