Shaikh Yusuf Al-Hidji was born in Kuwait in 1923. He received his formal education in Kuwaiti schools while pursuing religious studies under the tutelage of prominent Islamic educators at home. After working for a few years in ARAMCO, Saudi Arabia, he served in the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health and became Director of Purchases, then Deputy Minister of Health. During that period, he oversaw the establishment of the first government hospital in Kuwait and subsequently opened several others.
He also played a key role in the introduction of medical services in rural areas, and was a Founding Chairman of the Kuwaiti Red Cross. He became Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs from 1976-1981 during which period he pursued the establishment of the Kuwaiti House of Finance; and the College of Shari’a (Islamic Law) in Kuwait University, while launching the “Encyclopedia of Islamic Jurisprudence,” a highly acclaimed resource of that subject. In 1984, he co-founded the International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) and has since been its President. This is a mammoth organization that provides humanitarian aid to impoverished and destitute people throughout the world, regardless of their race, creed or nationality. Over the years, the IICO built a large number of hospitals, schools, orphanages, mosques, wells and farms 99 that benefited millions of underprivileged people, particularly in Africa and Asia.
The IICO and the Kuwaiti Red Cross are, however, not the only examples of Shaikh Al-Hidji’s lifelong commitment to Islamic charity and social reform. He also founded, co-founded and/ or directed many other philanthropic institutions in the Islamic World and internationally. He is the Chairman of the Kuwaiti Joint Commission for Relief, Vice-President of the Kuwaiti House of Alms and the International Islamic Council for Daawa and Relief in Cairo and a member of the Boards of Trustees of the Organization of Islamic Daawa (Sudan), the Islamic Foundation in Leicester (UK) and the Islamic Universities in Islamabad and Chitagong (Bangladesh) and formerly in Uganda and Niger. He is also a member of the Supreme Council for Mosques of the World Islamic League in Makkah, and former member of the Board of Directors of Dubai Islamic Bank. He wrote several articles defending Islamic charity and explaining its impact on the fight against poverty, ignorance and disease in the world. In addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam, Al-Hidji’s contributions to Islamic charity and education were recognized by several other medals, prizes and honorary degrees.
Shaikh Al-Hidji is recognized for his distinguished contributions to Islamic Daawa, education and philanthropy. He is a member of the Boards of Trustees of four Islamic universities in Africa and Asia and initiator of the College of Shariya (Islamic Law) at Kuwait University. He is also the founder or co-founder and chairman of several national and international charity and relief organizations, and founding president of the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society.