The waqf, eradication of poverty
The ethics of Muslim society is marked by a concept of well-being that encompasses the relationships between individuals and their influence with other communities (whether intra-confessional, inter-confessional, or any other), and finally in the relationship between individuals and Allah (Exalted be He).
The Waqf is a determining means to achieve this end through all its aspects. Therefore, it plays an important role in the socio-economic development of society and the fields of education, health, and many others.
4 main objectives
At the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
Numerous accounts from the time of Prophet Muhammad (Prayers and blessings be upon him) indicate that the waqf seeds were already planted in his day. Besides, he gave a historical answer to his close companion, Omar Ibnu Al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), about the property he had acquired in Khaibar. He advised him to bequeath it to his poorest relatives, the slaves, to those on the path of Allah, to travelers and guests. He also added the following clause: “it shall not be sold, given as a gift, or inherited” (Al-Bukhari Book 44, Chapter 19, Hadith No. 2737, p.1207). Based on this stipulation, most classical jurists treated waqf property as inalienable, irrevocable, and perpetual.
The Prophet (Prayers and blessings be upon him) was an example of the giving of waqf. He bequeathed property, farmland, houses. His illustrious companions donated mainly residential properties in Medina and agricultural properties, personal equipment, and wells. Two of his successors (namely, Omar and Othman) wrote waqf documents for some companions far from their city.
All law schools recognize the importance of the waqf to alleviate poverty, advance education, promote health, achieve government or municipal goals, and others deemed beneficial to the community. Muslim. Therefore, it was used for the construction of mosques, schools, hospitals, public toilets, maintenance of cemeteries, and poverty alleviation.
During the Umayyad era (661–750), a hospital was built in Fusat, Cairo, while another was built during the Abbasid reign a century later in the Zuqaq al-Qanadil neighborhood. Ibn Tulun built another hospital in 872, which was operational at least until the 15th century. Some of these hospitals provided food and medicine to patients day and night. Special services were reserved for patients with particular illnesses. Qualified medical personnel was employed in these establishments.
During the Abbasid reign (750–1258), hospitals also researched relevant areas with waqf funding. This assistance extended to veterinary sciences and covered salaries paid to employees of veterinary clinics.
Specialist medical schools have been founded in places like al-Mustansariyyah outside of Baghdad. In Baghdad itself, a special ward has been set aside to treat diseases in buildings constructed with donations from the waqf. Medical students in need were financially supported, regardless of their religion.
The Waqf has also been used in education, mainly for Koranic schools and their staff, as well as for poor and orphaned pupils. Arabic grammar and stylistics were also taught there, although to a limited extent.
At that time, housing also came from endowments for women, especially widows and divorcees, who devoted themselves to worship.
The Waqf facilitated the construction of places to eat for the needy, houses for the poor, and lodgings for Mecca pilgrims.
It even allowed people below the poverty line to get married.
The Waqf bore the costs of building and maintaining roads, bridges, wells, cemeteries, paper mills, astronomical observatories, and water fountains.
From the arrival of Muslims to Spain in the 9th century, particularly during the Nasrid rule of Granada in the 14th and 15th centuries, waqf disbursements covered education. Books of all kinds, covering religion up to science, culture, and general knowledge, were distributed to institutions. The waqf also provided for student subsistence in the form of allowances.
This institution reached its peak in Ottoman Turkey (1301–1922) both in terms of organization and operation, where it became a crucial provider of private and public goods.
In addition to all the avenues already explained, agricultural income has been channeled towards urban services to promote growth and development, such as housing, service facilities, and shops next to bequeathed schools, hospitals, or mosque complexes. Eventually, the commercial sections developed into town centers.
People attributed private property, businesses, and savings to these institutions.
Waqf donors allocated them for skills empowerment, animal shelter, sports programs, street lighting, picnics for poor children, small business loans, aid to prisoners, and the supply of toys to children from disadvantaged families.
Musicians were even employed in the treatment of sick patients at the Edirne hospital. There were around 35,000 awqaf during the heyday of the Ottoman Empire.
By the end of the 18th century, the awqaf’s combined revenues represented about one-third of the state’s total revenues. Women founded around 40% of these institutions. The Jerusalem charity complex included entire villages, shops, a covered bazaar, soap factories, flour mills, and baths. The resulting income was used to set up a huge soup kitchen, a mosque, and two hostels for pilgrims and travelers. When the Secular Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, 75% of its arable land was owned by the waqf.
In India, waqf spending possibilities were more limited. The dividends were paid mainly to Muslims and non-Muslims, imams, teachers, close families, poor and indigent people, hospices, maintenance of cemeteries, lodges, watering places, roads, and the water supply of pilgrims.
Beneficiaries as “people” were preferred over buildings and institutions; therefore, a teacher had priority over a school. Also, an investment with longer-lasting benefits was preferred over a charity with a shorter impact. So building a hospice for Muslims was better than freeing slaves.
For about six centuries, the waqf largely eradicated poverty.
Based on history, we can therefore deduce that the waqf has an impact on several points: