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Waqf Definition

In language term per se, the word Waqf literally means “confinement and prohibition” and is derived from Arabic word "Al-Waqf" (اَلْوَقْفُ) which may be translated in simple english as religious endowment. It also means the property detained, stand still, hold still and not to let go "Al-Habs" (اَلْحَبْسُ) or property blocked "Al-Mana" (اَلْمَنْعُ) by preventing it from becoming the property of a third person. Notwithstanding that and according to Islamic terminology, the endowment brings the purpose of preventing a property from waqif (donor or founder) by dedicating an asset or property for the benefit of a defined group i.e. provide benefits for the welfare and interests of Islam and Muslims as a whole or to the recipients who have been pre-determined, pre-specified and stated by the waqif earlier on (as mentioned in the proof of waqf property or deed) and will be endowed from the beginning to the end in the name of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala and could not be taken back or owned by any individuals forever.

In other words, the proprietary rights are wholly and undisputedly relinquished. It belongs to Allah S.W.T. and it cannot be sold, be given away or inherited forever as the asset/property now exists in perpetuity until the end of time. Waqf is also irrevocable gift of tangible asset or property for the benefit of waqif’s (founder/donor) family members or someone else or something, in perpetuity. A simple definition of waqf is the dedication of a property by a person through a will or otherwise – for religious and charitable purposes.

 

Types of Waqf or Endowments

Generally, Waqf is divided into two types namely:

i) Waqf Member (Family Endowment)

This waqf will be devoted to and will benefit family members who have been determined and specified by the waqif (founder/donor). The waqf asset/property will be held for the family of its founder, until the extinction of his or her descendants.

 

i) Waqf Khairi (Charity/Welfare Endowment)

This waqf is divided into general and special waqf and it involves the permanent dedication of asset/property to charitable purposes.

For general waqf, it can be defined as an endowment established by waqif (founder/donor) for general purposes and for the benefit of Muslims as a whole such as facilities and economic development for the Muslim community through a variety of activities to be carried out in accordance with Islamic law.

For special waqf, it is interpreted as an endowment established specifically by waqif (founder/donor) for the benefit of Muslims according to Islamic law such as endowment of land for the purpose of building mosques, surau, religious schools, cemeteries and others as specified by waqif.

From the above definition of Waqf, it can be explained that good deeds and practices will have a continuation of benefits or rewards and those rewards will continue pouring in for as long as the waqf is still utilized by the general public. Above all, the rewards will continue for as long as the waqif (founder/donor) is still alive (in the world) and will also persist despite his death (afterlife).

 

Endowment-based activities are:

i) Any tangible goods or assets or something to be endowed.

ii) Items that will be used or utilized on an ongoing basis.

 

 

Examples of Endowment-based activities are as follows:

1. Mosque building and places of worship

2. River water drainage projects

3. Writing mushaf, religious texts and books as well as reading activities

4. Supply of well water, tap water and the like

5. Agricultural development

6. Knowledge and educational programmes which are useful and good for practice

7. Happy family development programme that will serve as example for all

 

In his book entitled Tanbihul Ghafilin, Abullaits Assamarqandi went on to describe activities that would give benefit and long-lasting reward as narrated below:

"Yazid Arraqqasyi narrated from Anas r.a. : 'There are seven kinds of acceptable deeds and will be rewarded even after his or her death’ :

1. Those who built the mosque will get their rewards so long as there are people praying in it.

2. Those who siphoned river water, so long as there are people drinking from it.

3. Those who wrote the mushaf, so long as there are people reading it.

4. The man who dug the well, so long as there are still people using the water.

5. Those who planted crops, so long as they are eaten by humans or birds.

6. Those who taught useful knowledge, so long as they are practiced by their disciples.

7. Those who left behind children who will always pray and ask forgiveness for them; i.e. Where his father taught useful knowledge and the Al-Quran to his son, the father would also be rewarded so long as the child practice what he has learnt, without reducing the child's own reward; Conversely, if the child familiarized to do evil deeds and ungodly acts, so his father would also be accountable and will get his share of sins as well.

The Messenger of Allah said, "He who calls others to follow the right guidance will have a reward equal to the reward of those who follow him, without their reward being diminished in any respect of that account".

 

Hence, it is abundantly clear that the scope of endowment programme is wide-ranging and not only confined to purely religious projects alone but also includes any activities which will lead to good deeds, community-minded and concerning public interest. This can also be concluded that any ongoing activities which will bring benefits to other parties are also included in the scope of the endowment or under the context of sadaqah jariah.

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