Grand Ayatullah (marj’a) Sayyid Abul Qasim Musawi Al-Khoei, one of the most influential Shi'a Islamic scholars, established The Al-Khoei Benevolent Foundation in 1989. The Foundation's concern is to continue the charitable and educational functions historically associated with the office of the marj’aiyya, the institution of the highest-ranking Shi'i leadership. While its traditional, mainstream base of support is of course to be found in Shi’a populations, the Foundation has been striving for an anti-sectarian, unifying approach to build peaceful and tolerant communities.
The Foundation has branches around the world, including in London, New York, Montreal, Paris, Islamabad, Karachi and Mumbai and has grown to become the largest International Shi’a Muslim organization. It operates numerous schools, colleges, universities, Islamic and community centers around the world.
In 1997 the Foundation became the fourth Muslim organization - and the only Shi'a Muslim organization - to hold General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, where it currently promotes work in development, human rights and minority rights. The Foundation’s officers have helped monitor elections in Iraq as well as voting booths in Europe. In pursuing its founder’s vision the foundation endeavors to take on a holistic approach to development, which goes beyond the traditional fields of development, as they are often practiced by many bilateral and international agencies in a disparate and isolated manner. The Foundation attempts to work under the rubric of “human security” which attempts to encompass humanitarianism, development, human rights and conflict resolution all at the same time.