The waqf, hope of the Muslim world
Islam calls for mutual assistance and concern to the underprivileged members among the Ummah through setting aside any project that benefits some of its people or the entire community. This gesture is referred to as Waqf/Hubs which means continued charity for the sake of (Exalted be He). Throughout Islamic history people have been championing a great course through the creation of water waqf, education, healthcare, accommodation, and other socio-economic benevolent projects aim at reducing the economic dependencies of the poor people. The donor chooses a suitable way to administer and manage the Waqf property effectively by appointing himself as Nazir (Manager) or an experienced and trustworthy person to lead the project for its target beneficiaries and the continuity of the philanthropy.
Solidarity in Islam is one of the foundations of society through which it can achieve permanent happiness, goodwill, security, unity, and peace. It means that every member of the community should help those in need so that they can lead even the least decent lives and meet their basic needs. This should be extended to all members of society, Muslim or non-Muslim.
There are three main pillars of Muslim society, namely:
- Social cohesion,
- Social cooperation and,
Other types of society enjoy different interpersonal relationships than that of Muslim society. Only the latter leads the individual to his personality traits and enjoys cohesion, harmony, and self-sufficiency. There is a Hadith which clarifies the image of these three pillars. Our beloved Prophet Mohamed (prayers and blessings on him) said:
“A believer is for another believer like the bricks of a solid (cemented) building structure which are integral with one another” (Sahih Boukhari, Volume, 1, book 8, Hadith no. 46)
The hadith mentioned above shows that the structure of the building is useless as long as the various components are not adherent and cooperative. A closer union of hearts and greater affection are necessary for human relationships.
There is another example of cohesion as a living organism: we cannot live in isolation; there are so many links that help the organs to stay linked to each other. The cells would die if they were not related to another cell. The examples mentioned above help to increase the feeling of affection, sympathy, and mutual compassion.
Islam encourages people to adopt altruism and make sacrifices for others. The Koran has praised Muslims who prefer to meet the needs of others even though they are in difficulty. Caring for others is a primary value instilled by Islam. Muslim societies have a history of Waqf institutions devoted to philanthropic activities. Even in our time when religious loyalty seems to have weakened somewhat, people in societies display a spirit of altruism. In non-Muslim societies, too, philanthropy is a reality.
Waqf's obligations in case law
Historically, the name Waqf was not recognized in pre-Islamic Arabia. Prophet Mohamed (prayers and blessings on him), however, encouraged him as a kind of lasting gift or “sadaqah jariya” that sustainably benefits the poor and needy. There are indications that the term “waqf” was used from the start of Islam. He appears to have designated the spoils and conquered land as permanently set aside for the benefit of Muslims. The Koran does not mention the waqf, even less specifies its legal parameters. But, with the disappearance of the Prophet Mohamed (prayers and blessings on him) in 632, from the 8th century onwards, at least a dozen Koranic passages were interpreted as instructing believers to lay the foundations for religious or charitable purposes.
There is evidence in the Qur’an that calls for spending for the cause of Allah (Glorified be He) with confirmation of reward here in this world and in the world to come. The Koran states:
… And any expenditure that you make [in good], He replaces it, and He is the Best of donors “(Koran 34, verse 39)
Another indication is as follows:
Surely Allah bought believers, their people and their goods in exchange for Paradise” (Koran 9, verse 111)
There are also indications calling people to practice what will later become “waqf” in the following narrations:
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “When a man dies, his works cease except the following three: alms whose benefit remains, a science useful to men, or a virtuous son who invokes Allah on his behalf.” (Sahih Muslim, book 13, number 4005)
The above texts from the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Prophet Mohamed (prayers and blessings be upon him) could serve as evidence on which the Waqf Institution was established from the beginning of Islam to the present day.
History and conditions governing the validity of Waqf
Historical documents show that the first known Waqf in Islam is the Quba Mosque, built on the arrival of Prophet Mohamed (prayers and blessings on him) in 622 CE. It is still on the same property with a new enlarged structure. Six months later, Quba was followed by the Prophet’s Mosque (prayers and blessings on him) in the Center of Medina. This type of Waqf can be called a religious waqf.
There is another type of Waqf, the Philanthropic Waqf, which aims to support the poor segment of society and all activities that benefit the general population, such as public services, libraries, scientific research, education, health services, animal care, the environment, business loans, parks, roads, bridges, and dams.
Some believe that the religious origin of Waqf in Islam began with a story of the second caliph, Omar ibn Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) when he obtained gardens and came to see the Prophet ask him for the best way to do it. The poor have benefited from this land.
In the Sahih Muslim, this was recorded as follows:
Ibn Omar reported: “Omar acquired land in Khaibar. He came to the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) and asked his opinion on it. He said, “Messenger of Allah, I have acquired land in Khaibar. I have never acquired a property more precious to me than that, so what do you order me to do? Prophet Mohamed (prayers and blessings on him) said: “If you wish, you can keep the corpus intact and give its products as Sadaqa”. So ‘Umar gave it as Sadaqa declaring that the property should not be sold, inherited or given as a gift. And Omar dedicated it to the poor, to the closest relatives and to the emancipation of slaves, disseminated in the manner of Allah. There is no sin for the one who administers it if he eats something in a reasonable way or if he feeds his friends and does not amass goods (for himself). He (the narrator) said: I told this hadith to Prophet Mohamed (prayers and blessings on him), but when I reached the (words) “without hoarding it (for itself)”. He said, “without storing the property in order to get rich.” (Sahih Mouslim, book 13, number 4006)
The real innovation in the idea of Waqf throughout the history of Islam appeared first when the Prophet Mohamed (prayers and blessings be upon him) asked: “Who would buy the well of” Bayruha “and designate it as a free installation for public drinking water? ” This indication is found in a hadith after ‘Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: “Abu Talha was the richest Ansar in Medina. The most loved of his money was in Bayruha. It was located face to face at the mosque of Prophet Mohamed (prayers and blessings on him). The Messenger of Allah entered it and drank its pleasant water. When this verse from the Qur’an was revealed:
In no case will you reach justice unless you freely give what you love. “(Koran 3, verse 92)
According to Anas (God bless him): “Abu Talha (God bless him) was the richest palm owner in Ansars in Medina. The palm grove he liked most was that of “Bayruha” which faced the mosque. The Messenger of God (Prayers and Blessings be upon him) often entered and drank sweet water. Anas said, “When this verse was taken down (” You will never reach charity until you spend what you love “). Abu Talha came to the Messenger of God (Prayers and Blessings on him) and said to him: “O Messenger of God! Exalted God sent down on you: “You will never reach charity until you spend what you love” and, of all my possessions, nothing is more dear to me than “Bayruha”. So it is now from my part an alms for Exalted God. I hope to find good in it in this world and in the next with Him. Place it then, O Messenger of God, in the place that God shows you. ” The Messenger of God (Prayers and Blessing on him) said to him: “Well done! Well done! So that’s a winning investment! I heard what you just said and I think you put her among your parents. ” Abu Talha said, “This is what I am going to do, O Messenger of God! And he divided the palm grove between his relatives and his cousins. (Riyad as-Salihin of Imam Annawawi 631 – 676 - unanimously recognized as authentic)
The main objective of establishing the Waqf is to obtain the contentment of Allah and to achieve happiness in the afterlife. The reasons are to get closer to Allah (Exalted be He) by seeking his protection and his blessings. It is also an important argument to avoid the costly spending extravagantly and ostentatiously their wealth.
This has generated a wide range of Awqaf, which has served the well-being of society in all its different aspects. Since the above events, the Waqf began to spread among Muslims during the time of Prophet Mohamed (prayers and blessings on him) and continued after him until today.
The rules of waqf
The properties of the waqf, movable or immovable, belong to Allah (Exalted be He) while their yield (usufruct, profit, and product) is devoted to the benefit of human beings. By implication, once a good is given as a waqf, its title no longer belongs to the donor. It cannot be sold, given back, or given or inherited. The waqf establishment rules can make the endowment consist only of buildings. It also requires that the property in question be permanently available for the designated mission. The laws relating to waqf are an integral part of Muslim jurisprudence. He has relationships with other areas of law and society, such as inheritance, wills, gifts, and marriage. The condition of administration and protection of endowments has an essential place in Islam where the requirements set by the waqif (the person who establishes the waqf) are like rules established by Allah the Almighty and which has become a principle legal.
The idea of waqf is based on an original endowment of real estate, generating tangible wealth to use it as productivity. It must be done within the framework of a moral economy, dominated by ethical notions of justice, equality, and redistribution. The three essential parts of a waqf are:
- an unambiguous and detailed description of the endowment (with proof of ownership),
- designation of beneficiaries (must be an acceptable object of charity)
- and the appointment of a trustee (mutawalli, could be the founder).
Waqf property management
The Waqf or endowed property cannot function by itself to achieve the target objectives without officially appointing someone to coordinate and manage it according to its rules. The donor determines the type of management of the waqf. The manager of the Waqf, called Mutawalli, is responsible for the administration of the Waqf’s property in the best interest of the beneficiaries. Its duty is to preserve the property and maximize the income of the beneficiaries. The waqf documents must mention how the Mutawalli must be remunerated for this effort, and if the document does not mention any remuneration then the appointment is honorary.
In fact, the Waqf, if properly administered and managed properly, becomes the best means of providing aid and assistance to the poor as it did in past generations, especially during the Ottoman Empire.
Thus, during the Ottoman period, animal hospitals were created to care for sick migratory birds, such as storks, and their expenses were covered by allocations. As a result of such commitment to the welfare of all creatures; an officer of the French army, the count of Bonneval (July 14, 1675 – March 23, 1747) was astonished by making the following declaration:
Is it possible to see crazy enough Turks giving workers money to water the trees to keep them from drying out? ”
Modernization and impact of waqf on the Muslim community
This philanthropic act of the waqf continued to attract many Muslim societies from the beginnings of Islam to the generations after the disappearance of the Prophet Mohamed (prayers and blessings on him). Rich and average Muslims participated voluntarily and established mosques for Muslims to pray, dig wells and irrigation canals for humans and animals, schools for learning, guesthouses for travelers in transit to rest, etc.
The impact of the waqf on the development of the Muslim community has continued to attract contemporary people, which has extended its scope to the problems of social development addressed by the income of the waqf.
For example, in Fez (Morocco), there are houses furnished under bequests where the poor organize their weddings and stay a few days. In Marrakech (Morocco), numerous endowments are available to manage a “house” to house women in conflict with their husbands, a room and a free interview are provided until the couples reconcile.
Also, Al-Azhar University, founded in Cairo in Egypt in 972 CE, the oldest and most renowned Islamic educational institution in the world, has received financial support from Waqf so that it can offer free education for people all over the world, from elementary to university level. In 1986, the waqf provided around 147,324,300 euros to this university to finance its teaching activities as well as its construction, comprising 55 faculties and 6,154 professors, including 849 professors, 819 associate professors, 1,517 lecturers, 1,456 tutors, and 1510 readers. Al-Azhar University is not only well known for its contribution to Islamic knowledge, but also as an initiator of religious activities worldwide. The waqf has always funded it, and the school has taught students from all over the world.
Likewise, the Al-Nuri school in Damascus, Syria, was built as in waqf by Sultan Nur Al-Din Al-Shahid. The design of the school was a wonder to behold. It’s built like a palace. There was a stream that flowed into the central courtyard, which ended up running in a very lovely cistern useful to everyone. All services provided to students, teachers, visitors, and intensive care and maintenance of the school grounds were funded by Awqaf income. These schools had direct relationships with the libraries, which people started to set up thanks to the waqf because they were aware of the importance of books and their role in education.
The Al-Nuri hospital in Damascus, built-in 1145 CE, was also funded by donations from the waqf. It was designed to serve the poor and the needy. A well-staffed and well-equipped hospital, it is known to have put in place the medical records system, possibly the first in history. It was also used as a medical school where many prominent doctors graduated, including Ibn al-Nafis, an academic who discovered pulmonary circulation.
In parts of South Asia, mainly in predominantly Muslim areas, the awqaf provide education support. Some institutions such as orphanages, madrassas, for generations, have managed to collect funds from the waqf. Almost all of the madrassas operating in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, like many other Muslim countries, are established, funded, and managed with funding from many awqaf. In Malaysia, Islamic educational institutions, in particular, pondoks (boarding schools), are created and maintained by waqf funds.
In Nigeria, mainly in the north of the country, Muslims have invested in awqaf by creating mosques, wells, tree areas, traditional water pots around certain mosques, markets, and in places where people gathered.
But, over time, people began to neglect these endowments because of egocentric attitudes towards the needy and less privileged in society. This lack of concern for managing awqaf has directly affected the pursuit and sustainability of many awqaf around the world.
However, many awqaf continue, and their income has continued to provide support to the poor through:
- providing shelter for the elderly and poor,
- economic empowerment,
- payment of medical bills,
- orphan education programs,
- educational aid for orphans and the poor,
- water supply projects in many villages, etc.
Allah (Exalted be He) created human beings with different capacities and wills; some are rich and others poor. These differences are not intended to distinguish between them, but simply to produce a cooperative and robust society that grants the rights of the poor to wealth (Zakat) and establishes voluntary charity programs (awqaf) to help reduce poverty. Those who suffer.
These endowments (awqaf) can be a catalyst for violence in society, the unemployment rate, insecurity, ignorance, and the various obstacles that can unbalance a society.
Affluent Muslims, Muslim organizations, and all those involved in societal life should work to reintroduce and develop social development projects to solve the contemporary problems facing Muslim societies around the world, using the waqf.