Islamic Relief Worldwide announces new chief executive

10 May 2021 News

Waseem Ahmad, chief executive of Islamic Relief Worldwide

Waseem Ahmad will be the new chief executive of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), the charity announced today.

Ahmad is currently director of the international programmes division at IRW, which includes responsibility for developing work to deal with the climate crisis and Covid-19.

Ahmad replaces Naser Haghamed, who stepped down for health reasons in January 2021. 

Tufail Hussain, who has been acting chief executive since January, will return to his role as director of IRW-UK.

Charity background

Ahmad joined IRW 15 years ago, originally working as a programme officer in the Balochistan region of Pakistan.

He has also worked as head of programme funding and partnerships at the charity, liaising with the old Department for International Development and international donors including USAID.

Ahmad has previously worked for Tearfund and Oxfam.

IRW confirmed he will start in the role next week.

Ahmad: ‘Honoured and excited’ 

Waseem Ahmad said: “I am honoured and excited to lead IRW in its mission to transform the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.  

“This is a critical time for the world, and our duty to humanity is greater than ever right now. 

“Hundreds of millions of people go to sleep hungry every night. Many more face discrimination and disadvantage based on their gender, race or religion. Climate change continues to threaten the lives and livelihoods of the poorest communities and countries. 

“We want to work together with communities and partners around the world to create a just and fairer future for everyone.” 

Ihab Saad, chair of trustees at IRW, said: “Waseem is passionate about integrating Islamic humanitarian principles with contemporary humanitarian approaches, and has helped us to form and strengthen our partnerships with international organisations and donors around the world.” 


IRW, which is based in Birmingham, was heavily criticised earlier this year after three trustees stepped down following reports about of posting antisemitic comments online.

A Charity Commission compliance case into the charity, which concluded in January, found that IRW had made “significant improvements” to its recruitment processes. 

On publishing an independent review of the charity's governance following the antisemitism allegations, former attorney general Dominic Grieve told Civil Society News that IRW's “reputation was on the line”.

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