What is Waqf?

Waqf (singluar) or Awqaf (plural) is an Arabic word that means endowment, assets that are denoted, or assets that are purchased to be held in perpetual trust for certain charitable causes that are socially beneficial. Waqf meaning originates from the Arabic word waqufa, which translates to hold up or tie up. Waqf is also an ongoing and sustainable charity or sadaqah jariya.

The question “What is Waqf” can also be referred to as setting aside the original property and donating its benefits in the name of Allah. The original property here refers to something from which the benefit may be derived, such as shops, houses, gardens, etc. The benefits are the produce from the property, such as fruits, shelter, rent, etc.

Origin Of Waqf

For centuries, the Islamic community has used Waqf to support other people. Prophet Muhammad PBUH was the first to establish waqt. In a hadith, Ibn Umar RA narrated that Umar bin Khattab got some land in Khaibar, and he went to the Prophet PBUH to consult about the land and said that he had gotten some land in Khaibar better than any land he had ever gotten before and asked what he should do with the land. Hearing this, the Prophet PBUH replied that if Umar RA liked, he could give the land as an endowment and its fruit to charity.

Therefore, Umar RA gave the land as an endowment on the condition that it would neither be sold nor given as a present to anyone. Also, it won’t be inherited, but its yield will be given to the kith and kin, to the poor people, for freeing enslaved people, in the way of Allah, to the guests and the travelers. And that there would be no harm if the guardian of the endowment ate from it according to his need and with good intentions. And that it would be fed to others without being stored for the future. [Sahih al-Bukhari, 2737]

Although Waqf is not explicitly mentioned in the Quran, it is an important part of the Islamic society that assists in gaining good deeds and gaining the pleasure of Allah.

What is Waqf? – Types Of Waqf

1. Investment Waqf

This type of Waqf includes the donor making an investment so that later, the earnings from the donations are maximized and used to fulfill the community’s needs.

2. Cash Waqf

This type of Waqf also aims to help the community by using money to establish Waqf. Even during medieval times, cash Waqf was used to finance entrepreneurs, and the returns from those businesses were used for causes such as medical procedures, education, etc.

3. Physical Waqf

Physical Waqf is usually in the form of real estate, where it is invested and endowed, and the profits are later used to help the community. In some cases, the beneficiaries use real estate directly. An example of physical Waqf is the construction of a religious school or mosque maintained through Waqf donations.

4. Corporate Waqf

Corporate Waqf is a contemporary type of Waqf donated as corporate shares. These shares are managed and issued by takaful companies, Islamic banks, and Shariah-compliant investment companies.

5. Family Waqf

In this type of Waqf, the income is reserved for specially described people, usually family members or relatives.

Conditions of Waqf

  • The person setting up the Waqf has the authority to dispose of his wealth. Meaning he is mature, an adult, and free because the Waqf made by a minor, an enslaved person, or an immature person is not valid.
  • The property given as Waqf is something from which ongoing benefit can be derived while maintaining its original essence. For example, a garden can be used as a Waqf because it can grow more fruits after being harvested. On the other hand, food can’t be given as Waqf because it will no longer remain after use.
  • The property given as Waqf should be specified.
  • The Waqf should be established for a good reason because the true reason behind establishing a Waqf is to get closer to Allah. Therefore, mosques, books of knowledge for the poor, and Waqfs for relatives are permissible. On the other hand, Waqfs for places of worship for the kuffar, supporting those who look after tombs, etc., are not acceptable because they are assisting people in committing sin, kufr and shirk.
  • For the Waqf to be valid, it should be something specific that is in the firm possession of the founder. Thus, the one who can’t possess anything, such as the dead or the animals, can’t establish a Waqf.
  • A valid Waqf is a Waqf that is immediately executable. A suspended or temporary Waqf is invalid except when a person connects it to their death. For example, if a person says, “My house will be a Waqf for the poor after I die.”

Benefits Of Waqf

  • Since Waqf is a recommended sunnah, the person who establishes Waqf will be rewarded for following a sunnah.
  • A closer and stronger relationship with Allah can be achieved through Waqf.
  • Continued blessings can be obtained through Waqf.
  • Duas of those who are unable to provide for themselves.
  • Establishing a project that the younger generations can invest their time in and grow closer to the deen.

Some Rulings of Waqf

  • If the Waqf is set up for a certain someone, for example, a woman is to receive a certain amount of bananas from a tree, but the tree produces more than that; the rest should be given to charity.
  • Acting according to the wishes of the one who set up the Waqf is obligatory as long as it doesn’t violate the Shariah.
  • If a person sets up a Waqf for his children, all the children, males and females, should be treated equally.

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