The Waqf, a tool for social entrepreneurship
The Islamic economic system is based on achieving the goals and intentions of Muslim jurisprudence rather than profit maximization. This system differs from all other existing economic systems by its “ethical factor.” This difference is fundamental because ethics embody the common values and determine the structural style of the members of such a society. The Islamic ethical system is balanced, fair and benevolent, and seeks to respect primary and derivative stakeholders’ rights without allowing any exploitation, nepotism, and other human evils.
The well-being of all human beings, that is, the fulfillment of their needs’ material and spiritual aspects, is Islam’s main goal because of its considerable commitment to justice and justice. Brotherhood. Furthermore, economic development should only be considered when the following results are achieved: fulfillment of the needs for all, equitable distribution of income and wealth, full employment, and protection of the environment.
The Islamic philosophy of entrepreneurship aspires to increase beneficial production for the benefit of the human community and improve the quality of life, thereby enabling the enjoyment of necessities and a reasonable amount of luxury without extravagance.
In contrast, a social enterprise has a “cause-oriented” entrepreneurial spirit that involves business strategies to maximize improved human well-being rather than maximizing profits. It allows investors to get back the amount of money invested over a period of time but does not allow them to take dividends beyond that point. The reason is that the sole purpose of a social enterprise’s existence is supposed to achieve at least one social objective through its own operation.
Economically, waqf can be explained by investing the resources of consumption in productive assets that provide income for future consumption by individuals or groups of individuals. The excess waqf income can be used, which combines the acts of saving and investing. It involves removing certain resources from consumption and simultaneously placing them in the form of productive assets that increase capital accumulation in the economy to increase future production of services and income.
The waqf is a civil institution, which has its own legal frameworks: documentation of objectives, management regulations, and stipulations for beneficiaries … This classification gives founders complete freedom to determine its management, use, and distribution within the limits of case law, thus leaving no room to divert it. Historically, these stringent conditions for managing waqf property left no room for imams, preachers, or other religious leaders to decide on waqf property based on their own preferences. Therefore, the waqf was institutionalized as a civic, charitable organization capable of serving society to meet its many needs sustainably. The nature of the civic organization of the waqf has positively helped expand its reach beyond religious activities, i.e., by covering education, public services, and other areas of social service…
The waqf founders’ appointment of custodians implies that each waqf domain/property should have its own autonomous management. The custodian of the waqf property is responsible for the management and administration of the waqf property in its beneficiaries’ best interests. In addition to preserving the asset, he is responsible for maximizing income from the asset to benefit its intended beneficiaries.
Rôles du Waqf dans la protection sociale
The Waqf was legislated to provide various social and community services in Muslim society. It has diversified its benefits and roles. One of the waqf’s important purposes is to meet the needs of various types of people: the poor, needy, sick, travelers, widows, and students, among others. In addition to meeting basic needs, the waqf successfully generates employment opportunities through its various activities.
In this way, waqf activities can promote development in various sectors, such as the local economy, the industrial sector, and other financial sectors. Also, it has played an immense role in the field of the protection of the five essential elements: protection of religion and religious activities; essential life protection; protection of the human intellect with healthy and harmonious development of mind, body, and soul through educational services; protection of orphans and widows; protection of wealth and reallocation of wealth and income through economic and financial activities.
The permanent nature of waqf results in the accumulation of waqf properties. These properties are dedicated to providing fixed assets that produce an ever-increasing stream of income to achieve their goals in diverse areas that support widespread social welfare activities. Some historical experiences should clarify how the waqf can contribute to society’s well-being and sustainable development. Archived waqf records in Jerusalem, Istanbul, Cairo, and other major Muslim cities indicate that waqf lands were used to cover a considerable proportion of Muslim territories’ total cultivated areas. For example, a survey conducted in Egypt in 1812 and 1813 indicated that the waqf represented 600,000 feddans out of the total cultivated land of 2.5 million feddans. In Algeria, there were 543 waqf acts in 1841 to benefit the great mosque in the capital Algiers. In Turkey, about a third of the land was waqf. In Palestine, 233 waqf deeds contained 890 properties in the mid-16th century, compared to 92 private property deeds, which contained 108 properties. Under normal productivity assumptions, these properties alone are sufficient to provide enormous income for benevolent activities and improve each of these countries’ quality of life.
Regarding waqf revenue expenditure, spending on mosques, especially in paying the salaries of imams, teachers, preachers, and carpeting, cleaning, water supply, and oil for lights, was the most frequently used purpose. This independent source of funding has enabled religious leaders and preachers to take positions on various social and political issues independent of the ruling class.
Although religious education was covered by waqf in mosques, general education was the second largest beneficiary of waqf benefits. In addition to receiving income from the beginning of Islam in the early 7th century, education was also used to attract funds from other voluntary charities. Schools were often built by the government, and then some properties were assigned as waqf like the one during the Ayyubid (1171-1249) and Mamlouk (1249-1517) eras in Palestine and Egypt. Historical sources indicate that 64 schools funded by waqf properties located in Palestine, Turkey, and Syria were providing education in Jerusalem at the turn of the 20th century, of which 40 schools were made waqf by Ayyubid and Mamluk rulers and governors. Al-Azhar University, founded in Cairo in 972, was also funded by waqf revenues until the Egyptian government took control of this property in 1812. Educational projects funded by waqf properties often covered books, libraries, salaries for teachers, and other relevant staff and students’ allowances. This independent approach to financing education has facilitated creating an educated class beyond the wealthy and ruling class of society. Sometimes the majority of Muslim scholars came from oppressed segments of society. This situation created an essential process of dynamic social change in Muslim society that was unprecedented in humanity’s history. Therefore, the provision of waqf-funded education meant that the poor had equal opportunities with the rich in acquiring education. This situation contributed immensely to the dynamics of leadership change and the flow of wealth in Muslim society, circulated power and wealth and eliminated the possibility of creating an aristocratic class that monopolized wealth and political power…
The third-largest beneficiaries of the waqf were the poor, the needy, orphans, and prisoners. Health services, including the construction of hospitals and spending on doctors, apprentices, patients, and drugs, have been another major recipient of waqf’s income. Besides, waqf proceeds were spent to help people travel to Mecca and Medina on pilgrimage, to help girls get married, and many other philanthropic causes.
In conclusion, we can deduce that the concept of waqf indicates that the Islamic economic system recognizes the role of the non-profit sector in social and economic development and the necessary legal and institutional protection. This law creates a permanent, cumulative, and ever-growing capital base that supports growth and broadens the scope of benevolent activities outside of zakat and charities. The Waqf performs the functions of benevolence to reach all areas of social welfare and even areas that many contemporary political economists and sociologists consider within the realm and responsibility of governments (e.g., health, education, and defense).
In the Islamic legal system, although economic corporations are nothing more than funds used to generate profits for their owners, waqf properties are funds used to benefit their beneficiaries. The necessary management of the waqf is similar to that of economic corporations. A method is provided to motivate this direction to relate to the beneficiaries and the local community’s interests.
Therefore, expectations are high in Muslim society, so that the waqf system should take more responsibility for solving contemporary social issues. At present, most waqf institutions cannot perform their expected role due to the lack of essential resources they need to function properly.
The concept of waqf involves generous applications in the development of the non-profit or for-profit non-governmental sector and the increase in social welfare services that aim to improve society’s socio-economic well-being. The engagement of visionary entrepreneurs and philanthropists, the clarity of the vision, the formation of modern corporate-type management, the recruitment of competent human resources to lead the companies, and the partnerships with the best possible philanthropic projects and the actors’ social are the keys to moving forward. That is, reviving the waqf role as an exemplary social service delivery tool as it helped in the early days of Islam. Beyond the contemporary use of the waqf in the dedication of properties for ritual purposes only, the waqf system, well understood intellectually and well managed with modernity, can play a substantially effective and successful role in society.