Waqf has the power to transform society through it’s unique method of funding projects and good works – a fact proven through history.
The Story of Waqf
Waqf has had a profound impact on the world since the Prophet ﷺ instituted it in Madinah. Sadly, it’s impact has curtailed dramatically over the past few centuries. Yet, Waqf is now ready to rise again in the 21st century. Learn more.
Waqf – Fundamental Principles
In order to be considered Waqf certain rules and conditions need to be present. This in turn raises challenges that need to be carefully considered. We have initiated a campaign to ensure new Waqf adheres to certain standards. Learn more.
Waqf Fatwa Center
All Waqf need to abide by certain rules in order to be properly formulated. Our Waqf Fatwa Center is the best place to explore questions relating to Waqf in details. Learn more.
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The Story of Waqf
The history of Waqf is rich with examples of its power as a concept. Explore the past, present and future of Waqf. How did Waqf begin and develop? What happened to lead to its decline and how can it now be re-implemented? Learn this and more in the Story of Waqf.
Have a question about what Waqf is? Check out one of our FAQs to see if we have the answers.
Waqf is a permanent endowment. This just means that when you declare Waqf over an asset, it is thereafter no longer sold & spent, gifted or inherited. The asset is instead retained and any income can be used.
The word Waqf (the plural of which is Awqaf) literally means to stop, confine, restrict. The hadith literature uses various terms for the concept of Waqf such as ‘habs’ which also have come to refer to the same concept of Waqf.
Not only is Waqf permissible, it was the Prophet ﷺ who actually encouraged his Companions to establish their own Waqf. As a result, Waqf was an integral part of the financial system of Islam right from the outset and continued to grow over the next thousand years.
Far from being the pursuit of a few wealthy individuals, the narrations mention that every Companion who had the means to do so, created their own Waqf. After the time of the Companions, Waqf became an integral part of Muslim society and whether rich or poor, Muslims and non-Muslims alike benefitted from the widespread presence of Waqf in Muslim lands, created by people at all levels of society.
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Waqf is its incredible flexibility and versatility. Waqf has in the past, and can now once again, be created for almost any cause or need. For example, in the past Awqaf were created to replace broken utensils and provide grazing land for old animals. If you have a particular passion, organisation or project, then creating a Waqf fund to provide long-term sustainable funding can be the first step to real growth and progress.
Muslims scholars have in the past classified Waqf according to the intention with which it was created. A Waqf which was created primarily for the benefit of the individual and their family was termed a private or family Waqf. Similarly, a Waqf which was intended mainly or wholly for public or charitable causes was labelled as such. There were also those Waqf which fulfilled a combination of the two, so that a percentage of any funds generated by the Waqf were held for family and a percentage for public or charitable use. The reality is a single Waqf may go through multiple phases where it moves from being wholly for private use, to a mixture or public and private, and also a wholly public Waqf. To a great extent this will all depend on the needs and wishes of the Waqif.
Yes, as the Waqif (the one who establishes the Waqf) you have near complete control over the terms of the Waqf and can decide who is to benefit, including yourself, your family, charitable and other causes, so long as the cause is not something which is contrary to the principles of Islam.
There are two forms of Waqf, perpetual and temporary. A perpetual Waqf, if managed correctly, can in theory go on without end. There are Waqf still in existence from the time of the Prophet ﷺ. A temporary Waqf will be able to provide for its beneficiaries for as long as the time-limit of the Waqf does not expire. Once this time-limit (usually some years) is reached, then the property will return to the ownership of the Waqif.
Although perpetual (i.e. ongoing forever) Waqf is the most beneficial and widely practiced and should be the default position, temporary Waqf has been allowed by both past and contemporary Muslim scholars in order to encourage the creation and growth of Waqf as a concept and institution.
Under Islamic law, the Waqf fund and the assets (such as property, gold and cash) that comprise it, are treated separately from the individual who created and gifted the assets (known as the Waqif). This means that they are no longer a part of the Waqif’s estate and would not be inherited by their family, according to the Islamic rules of inheritance. What the position is for legal purposes, will depend largely on what steps the individual took to ensure his Waqf fund was valid. iWaqf can advise individuals on all these points.
The capital of the Waqf should not be spent or consumed once added to the Waqf. The reason for this is that it defeats the very purpose of Waqf as a concept. Instead, the beneficiaries can receive from the income that is generated from the Waqf and some should also be used to maintain and grow the capital. This ensures that the Waqf can continue to grow and be available for the beneficiaries needs long into the future and provide a greater benefit then if the Waqf capital was all spent upon the beneficiaries.
The Prophet ﷺ generally recommended the practice of regular and continuous good actions as opposed to one-off acts of kindness, as regular actions provide the greatest benefit to both the one doing the action and the one receiving the benefit of the deed. Unlike one-off donations, which end once the resource, good or service has been used up, sadaqah jaariyah or ongoing charity has this attribute and is one of the three actions which the Prophet ﷺ explained in a famous hadith continues after a person’s death. Waqf is the best form of sadaqah jaariyah, because it is designed not only to continue regularly over time, but actually increase over time. This is why creating a Waqf which fulfils some need of society can be the most beneficial act that an individual could look to undertake.
Its estimated that between 30-70% of the property and land in different Muslim regions was at one time owned in the form of Waqf. The institution of Waqf funded everything from roads, schools and masjids to some of the first hospitals and the early Universities (a model later copied by the likes of Oxford and Cambridge University colleges). Find out more about the history of Waqf on our Story of Waqf page.
This is partly as a result of the decline and dissolution of much of the Waqf in the 19th and early 20th century due to colonialism and nationalism that swept Muslim lands and partly because there has not, until now, been an easy and comprehensive way for individuals to create a properly formulated Waqf for themselves. iWaqf is changing that with our individual Waqf funds.
The model employed by Waqf means that it is ideally suited for financing long-term sustainable growth. There is no reason that not only charitable causes but also business ventures, educational projects and scientific ventures, amongst other things, could not all benefit from the funding which would be available if Waqf were to once again become widespread. By enabling individuals to create their own Waqf funds iWaqf believes that we can re-establish this now lost Sunnah aspect of Waqf.
It may be that you have a question about how to establish your own Waqf, in which case check out our resources on the Establish page and the FAQs on that page which summarise the major discussion points. We also have our Waqf Fatwa Center which covers questions in more detail with answers from our leading Shariah Consultant, Mufti Faraz Adam. If you still cannot find an answer, why not send us a question on our Contact page and we will endeavour to get back to you soon.
Waqf Fatwa Center
Our detailed analysis of Waqf have allowed us to design solutions that work. Check out our growing fatwa bank of questions and answers on Waqf from our leading Shariah consultant.