Established in 1973 in the city of Leicester, the Islamic Foundation began its work with two full-time and one part-time staff, from small premises at Keythorpe Street, later converted into a mosque. The Foundation steadily grew, moving to London Road, Leicester, in 1976 and then 1990 to its present premises of 9.3 acres in Markfield, a village in the outskirts of Leicester.
Since then, the Foundation has provided a peaceful environment for study and reflection, and it is open to all. Besides its own offices, the site houses a residential conference centre, a mosque, a purpose built Library, a book distribution centre including a bookshop, a gym and a new higher educational building for the Markfield Institute of Higher Education.
The Islamic Foundation set up research units in different fields of study. It has promoted research into different aspects of Islamic thought and practice – the Qur’an, the Sunnah, the Sirah (biography) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Muslim history and culture, Islamic economics, Christian-Muslim relations as well as the new European Muslim presence. It has studied contemporary Western society and has played an important role in developing a dialogue between Islam and the Western world.
The Islamic Foundation has published over four hundred books in English, a figure which is rapidly growing. The Islamic Foundation’s publishing is currently managed by Kube Publishing in partnership with the Foundation. The Foundation’s literature has reached millions of readers worldwide, benefiting scholars, intellectuals and lay people. The Foundation has pioneered educational resources for Muslim children and youth.
In addition to its academic endeavours, the Foundation provides essential services and support to help the Muslim community in the UK. It initiated coordination among local Muslims to achieve unity. It supported Islamic activities among Muslim youth and offered leadership courses, grants and scholarships to young scholars. It set up a specialist project for the care of the new Muslims.
The Foundation has established a specialized library used by researchers and academics from all over the world. In addition to the main collection in the English language it has rich collections in Arabic and Urdu languages and a historic journal archive.
It has been a priority of the Foundation to encourage dialogue with other cultures, ideologies and religions, recognising the need for Muslims and non-Muslims to live together for a better tomorrow.