Geographies of the Islamic world manifest stark disparities in terms of social and economic development. While some of the countries of the Ummah (Islamic community) benefited from Western donors and their development aid, there have been efforts to build endogenous capacity. A relatively well-known example is the case of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), one of the major but not the only actor in Islamic development assistance. This study is an attempt to showcase Islamic development aid emanating from the Ummah, its geographical and organizational fractions and conditions. Islamic aid is intrinsically informal by nature and its informal functioning is a fundamental reason for its dual relation with their Western counterparts. Born to embody the Islamic alternative to Western multilateral development cooperation, Islamic and Western aid institutions are similar when it comes to sectoral priorities and to their geographical focus. Islamic aid is turning to sub-Saharan Africa, where the poorest and most vulnerable populations and some strategic priorities (like terrorist groups and the refugee crisis) for global governance are. Gulf countries are a peculiar and critical OIC sub-group: they are the larger donors within the OIC and also individually through bilateral cooperation.

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