A waqf (Arabic: وقف), also known as habous or mortmain property,
is an inalienable charitable endowment under Islamic law, which
typically involves donating a building, plot of land or other assets
Muslim religious or charitable purposes with no intention of
reclaiming the assets. The donated assets may be held by a
charitable trust. The person making such dedication is known as waqif,
a donor. In Ottoman Turkish law, and later under the British Mandate
of Palestine, the waqf was defined as usufruct State land (or
property) of which the State revenues are assured to pious
foundations. Although based on several hadiths and presenting
elements similar to practices from pre-Islamic cultures, it seems that
the specific full-fledged Islamic legal form of endowment called waqf
dates from the 9th century CE (see paragraph "History and location").
3 Islamic texts
4 Life cycle
4.1.4 Declaration of founding
5 History and location
6 Funding of schools and hospitals
7 Comparisons with trust law
8 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
In Sunni jurisprudence, waqf, also spelled wakf (Arabic: وقف,
pronounced [ˈwɑqf]; plural أوقاف, awqāf; Turkish: vakıf )
is synonymous with ḥabs (also called ḥubs or ḥubus and commonly
rendered habous in French). Habs and similar terms are used mainly
Maliki jurists. In Twelver Shiism, ḥabs is a particular type
of waqf, in which the founder reserves the right to dispose of the
waqf property. The person making the grant is called al-waqif (or
al-muhabbis) while the endowed assests are called al-mawquf (or
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The term waqf literally means "confinement and prohibition" or causing
a thing to stop or stand still. The legal meaning of
to Imam Abu Hanifa, is the detention of a specific thing in the
ownership of waqf and the devoting of its profit or products "in
charity of poors or other good objects".
Abu Yusuf and
Waqf signifies the extinction of the
waqif's ownership in the thing dedicated and detention of all the
thing in the implied ownership of God, in such a manner that its
profits may revert to or be applied "for the benefit of
Bahaeddin Yediyıldız defines the waqf as a system which comprises
three elements: hayrat, akarat and waqf. Hayrat, the plural form of
hayr, means “goodnesses” and refers to the motivational factor
behind vakıf organization; akarat refers to corpus and literally
means ”real estates” implying revenue-generating sources, such as
markets (bedestens, arastas, hans, etc.), land, baths; and waqf, in
its narrow sense, is the institution(s) providing services as
committed in the vakıf deed such as madrasas, public kitchens
(imarets), karwansarays, mosques, libraries, etc.
There is no direct injunction of the Qur'an regarding Waqf, which is
derived from a number of hadiths (traditions of Muhammad). One says,
Umar Ibn Al-Khattab got land in Khaybar, so he
came to the prophet
Muhammad and asked him to advise him about it. The
Prophet said, 'If you like, make the property inalienable and give the
profit from it to charity.'" It goes on to say that
Umar gave it away
as alms, that the land itself would not be sold, inherited or donated.
He gave it away for the poor, the relatives, the slaves, the jihad,
the travelers and the guests. And it will not be held against him who
administers it if he consumes some of its yield in an appropriate
manner or feeds a friend who does not enrich himself by means of
In another hadith,
Muhammad said, "When a man dies, only three deeds
will survive him: continuing alms, profitable knowledge and a child
praying for him."[verification needed]
Islamic law puts several legal conditions on the process of
establishing a waqf.
A waqf is a contract, therefore the founder (called al-wāqif or
al-muḥabbis in Arabic) must be of the capacity to enter into a
contract. For this the founder must:
be an adult
be sound of mind
capable of handling financial affairs
not under interdiction for bankruptcy
Although waqf is an Islamic institution, being a
Muslim is not
required to establish a waqf, and dhimmis may establish a waqf.
Finally if a person is fatally ill, the waqf is subject to the same
restrictions as a will in Islam.
The property (called al-mawqūf or al-muḥabbas) used to found a waqf
must be objects of a valid contract. The object should not be illegal
in Islam (e.g. wine or pork). Finally these objects should not already
be in the public domain. Thus, public property cannot be used to
establish a waqf. The founder cannot also have pledged the property
previously to someone else. These conditions are generally true for
contracts in Islam.
The property dedicated to waqf is generally immovable, such as estate.
All movable goods can also form waqf, according to most Islamic
jurists. The Hanafis, however, also allow most movable goods to be
dedicated to a waqf with some restrictions. Some jurists have argued
that even gold and silver (or other currency) can be designated as
The beneficiaries of the waqf can be persons and public utilities. The
founder can specify which persons are eligible for benefit (such the
founder's family, entire community, only the poor, travelers). Public
utilities such as mosques, schools, bridges, graveyards and drinking
fountains can be the beneficiaries of a waqf. Modern legislation
divides the waqf as "charitable causes", in which the beneficiaries
are the public or the poor) and "family" waqf, in which the founder
makes the beneficiaries his relatives. There can also be multiple
beneficiaries. For example, the founder may stipulate that half the
proceeds go to his family, while the other half go to the poor.
Valid beneficiaries must satisfy the following conditions:
They must be identifiable. At least some of the beneficiaries must
also exist at the time of the founding of the waqf. The Mālikīs,
however, hold that a waqf may exist for some time without
beneficiaries, whence the proceeds accumulate are given to
beneficiaries once they come into existence. An example of a
non-existent beneficiary is an unborn child.
The beneficiaries must not be at war with the Muslims. Scholars stress
Muslim citizens of the Islamic state (dhimmi) can definitely
The beneficiaries may not use the waqf for a purpose in contradiction
of Islamic principles.
There is dispute over whether the founder himself can reserve
exclusive rights to use waqf. Most scholars agree that once the waqf
is founded, it can't be taken back.
The Ḥanafīs hold that the list of beneficiaries include a perpetual
element; the waqf must specify its beneficiaries in case.
Declaration of founding
The declaration of founding is usually a written document, accompanied
by a verbal declaration, though neither are required by most scholars.
Whatever the declaration, most scholars (those of the Hanafi, Shafi'i,
some of the
Hanbali and the Imami Shi'a schools) hold that it is not
binding and irrevocable until actually delivered to the beneficiaries
or put in their use. Once in their use, however, the waqf becomes an
institution in its own right.
Waqf Writing Room in Mevlana Museum
Usually a waqf has a range of beneficiaries. Thus, the founder makes
arrangements beforehand by appointing an administrator (called
nāẓir or mutawallī or ḳayyim) and lays down the rules for
appointing successive administrators. The founder may himself choose
to administer the waqf during his lifetime. In some cases, however,
the number of beneficiaries are quite limited. Thus, there is no need
for an administrator, and the beneficiaries themselves can take care
of the waqf.
The administrator, like other persons of responsibility under Islamic
law, must have capacity to act and contract. In addition,
trustworthiness and administration skills are required. Some scholars
require that the administrator of this Islamic religious institution
be a Muslim, though the Hanafis drop this requirement.
Waqf is intended to be perpetual and last forever. Nevertheless,
Islamic law envisages conditions under which the waqf may be
If the goods of the waqf are destroyed or damaged. Scholars interpret
this as the case where goods are no longer used in the manner intended
by the founder. The remains of the goods are to revert to the founder
or his/her heirs. Other scholars, however, hold that all possibilities
must be examined to see if the goods of the waqf can be used at all,
exhausting all methods of exploitation before the termination. Thus,
land, according to such jurists, can never become extinguished.
A waḳf can be declared null and void by the ḳāḍī, or religious
judge, if its formation includes committing acts otherwise illegal in
Islam, or it does not satisfy the conditions of validity, or if it is
against the notion of philanthropy. Since waqf is an Islamic
institution it becomes void if the founder converts to another
According to the Mālikī school of thought, the termination of the
waqf may be specified in its founding declaration. As the waqf would
expire whenever its termination conditions are fulfilled (e.g. the
last beneficiary). The waqf property then returns to the founder,
his/her heirs, or whoever is to receive it.
History and location
The practices attributed to
Muhammad have promoted the institution of
waqf from the earliest part of Islamic history.
The two oldest known waqfiya (deed) documents are from the 9th
century, while a third one dates from the early 10th century, all
three within the Abbasid Period. The oldest dated waqfiya goes back to
876 CE, concerns a multi-volume Qur'an edition and is held by the
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum in Istanbul. A possibly older waqfiya
is a papyrus held by the
Louvre Museum in Paris, with no written date
but considered to be from the mid-9th century. The next oldest
document is a marble tablet whose inscription bears the Islamic date
equivalent to 913 CE and states the waqf status of an inn, but is in
itself not the original deed; it is held at the
Eretz Israel Museum
Eretz Israel Museum in
Tel Aviv.[self-published source]
The earliest pious foundations in Egypt were charitable gifts, and not
in the form of a waqf. The first mosque built by '
Amr ibn al-'As
Amr ibn al-'As is an
example of this: the land was donated by Qaysaba bin Kulthum, and the
mosque's expenses were then paid by the Bayt al-mal. The earliest
known waqf, founded by financial official Abū Bakr Muḥammad bin Ali
al-Madhara'i in 919 (during the Abbasid period), is a pond called
Birkat Ḥabash together with its surrounding orchards, whose revenue
was to be used to operate a hydraulic complex and feed the poor.
Early references to Wakf in India, can be found in 14th century CE
work, Insha-i-Mahru by Aynul Mulk Ibn Mahru. According to the book,
Sultan Muizuddin Sam Ghaor (f. 1195–95 A.D.) dedicated two villages
in favor of Jama Masjid, Multan, and, handed its administration to the
Shaikhul Islam (highest ecclesiastical officer of the Empire). In the
coming years, several more wakfs were created, as the Delhi Sultanate
As per Wakf Act 1954 (later Wakf Act 1995 ) enacted by Government of
India, Wakfs are categorized as (a) Wakf by user such as Graveyards,
Musafir Khanas (Sarai) and Chowltries etc., (b) Wakf under
Mashrutul-khidmat (Service Inam) such as
Khazi service, Nirkhi
service, Pesh Imam service and
Khateeb service etc., and (c) Wakf
Alal-aulad is dedicated by the Donor (Wakif) for the benefit of their
kith and kin and for any purpose recognised by
Muslim law as pious,
religious or charitable. After the enactment Wakf Act 1954, the Union
government directed to all the states governments to implement the Act
for administering the wakf institutions like mosques, dargah,
ashurkhanas, graveyards, takhiyas, iddgahs, imambara,
anjumans[disambiguation needed] and various religious and charitable
institutions. A statutory body under Government of India, which
also oversees State Wakf Boards. In turn the State Wakf Boards
work towards management, regulation and protect the Wakf properties by
constituting District Wakf Committees, Mandal Wakf Committees and
Committees for the individual Wakf Institutions. As per the report
Sachar Committee (2006) there are about 500,000 registered Wakfs
with 600,000 acres (2,400 km2) land in India, and Rs.
60 billion book value.
The waqf institutions were not popular in all parts of the Muslim
world. In West Africa, very few examples of the institution can be
found, and were usually limited to the area around
Djenné in Massina Empire. Instead, Islamic west African societies
placed a much greater emphasis on non-permanent acts of charity.
According to expert Illife, this can be explained by West Africa's
tradition of "personal largesse." The imam would make himself the
collection and distribution of charity, thus building his personal
According to Hamas, all of historic Palestine is an Islamic waqf,
which translates as a "prohibition from surrendering or sharing".
Funding of schools and hospitals
After the Islamic waqf law and madrassah foundations were firmly
established by the 10th century, the number of
multiplied throughout Islamic lands. By the 11th century, many Islamic
cities had several hospitals. The waqf trust institutions funded the
hospitals for various expenses, including the wages of doctors,
ophthalmologists, surgeons, chemists, pharmacists, domestics and all
other staff, the purchase of foods and medicines; hospital equipment
such as beds, mattresses, bowls and perfumes; and repairs to
buildings. The waqf trusts also funded medical schools, and their
revenues covered various expenses such as their maintenance and the
payment of teachers and students.
Comparisons with trust law
The waqf in Islamic law, which developed in the medieval Islamic world
from the 7th to 9th centuries, bears a notable resemblance to the
English trust law. Every waqf was required to have a waqif
(founder), mutawillis (trustee), qadi (judge) and beneficiaries.
Under both a waqf and a trust, "property is reserved, and its usufruct
appropriated, for the benefit of specific individuals, or for a
general charitable purpose; the corpus becomes inalienable; estates
for life in favor of successive beneficiaries can be created" and
"without regard to the law of inheritance or the rights of the heirs;
and continuity is secured by the successive appointment of trustees or
The only significant distinction between the Islamic waqf and English
trust was "the express or implied reversion of the waqf to charitable
purposes when its specific object has ceased to exist", though
this difference only applied to the waqf ahli (Islamic family trust)
rather than the waqf khairi (devoted to a charitable purpose from its
inception). Another difference was the English vesting of "legal
estate" over the trust property in the trustee, though the "trustee
was still bound to administer that property for the benefit of the
beneficiaries." In this sense, the "role of the English trustee
therefore does not differ significantly from that of the
Personal trust law developed in England at the time of the Crusades,
during the 12th and 13th centuries. The Court of Chancery, under the
principles of equity, enforced the rights of absentee Crusaders who
had made temporary assignments of their lands to caretakers. It has
been speculated that this development may have been influenced by the
waqf institutions in the Middle East.
Jerusalem Islamic Waqf
Islamic economic jurisprudence
Islamic economics in the world
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The Hoda Center in Gainesville, FL is also known (lovingly) as "The
Es Seyyid Osman Hulûsi Efendi
Waqf in Darende, in Turkiye.
Kuwait Awqaf Public Foundation
Waqfuna موقع " وقفنا "
Huge properties, little earnings: What ails the
Waqf Boards in India?