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Waqf

WAQF

An Islamic endowment created by its founder to dedicate specific property for the benefit of a particular public good (waqf khayri) and/or the donor's family (waqf ahli).

A waqf (Arabic plural, awqâf ) may be composed of any kind of durable property whose use or income provides communal benefits, including mosques, hospitals, libraries, schools, canals, roads, and water fountains. The donor will write the charter for the administration of the waqf and appoint its initial trustees. The kaʿba in Mecca, the center of the Muslim pilgrimage, is the archetype of a waqf.

The first waqf established by Muhammad's community was the mosque at Quba in Medina. Charitable waqfs were established soon after when Muhammad dedicated seven orchards inherited from a follower to provide for the poor and needy. During the caliphate of Umar some donors established family waqfs, dedicating the income from their estates first to provide for their own descendents, with the surplus going to the poor. In the classical period of Islamic civilization the waqfs were an integral part of the economic and civil society infrastructure.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, after the colonial powers had, to varying degrees, marginalized the waqfs, the secular states that succeeded them dismantled or appropriated them to a significant degree throughout most of the Muslim world. Motivations were partly economic (that the permanent nature of waqfs tied up resources that might be more effectively reallocated), but mainly political, aiming to increase state function, authority, and wealth at the expense of the civil (especially, the religious) sector. After appropriation of waqf lands for the benefit of multinational corporations by the shah of Iran, for example, migration of evicted tenant farmers to the cities contributed to the discontent leading to the revolution that established the Islamic Republic in 1979.

Despite the diminution in their properties, size, and autonomy, the waqf remains a significant element of Islamic society. In recent years they have experienced a resurgence, especially in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, and Algeria.

see also kaʿba.


Bibliography


Makdisi, George. The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West. Edinburgh, U.K.: Edinburgh University Press, 1981.

denise a. spellberg
updated by imad-ad-dean ahmad

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Waqf

Waqf (pl., awqāf). Legal term in Islam, to prevent something (by dedication) falling into the possession of another, hence especially the dedication of land, buildings, etc., to religious purposes, or for family endowments. The alienation of waqf land in Israel/Palestine has been a particular source of grievance to Palestinian Muslims.

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"Waqf." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Waqf." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/waqf

"Waqf." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved February 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/waqf

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