RELIGIOUS ENDOWMENTS (WAQF)
Religious endowment – waqf – refers to taking a tangible property out of one’s ownership and to tie it up inalienably for its use, by its benefits and profits, for a general or specific purpose.
is divided into two categories:
(1) That the endowment is bestowed without the particular beneficiaries in mind who will make use of it, such as the waqf of mosques and that of holy shrines.
(2) That the endowment is bestowed with the particular beneficiaries in mind, whether by a general reference, such as the waqf of a religious school for its students, or by a specific reference, such as the waqf of a shop in order to use the rent income for a mosque, or the waqf of a house for one’s children.
Establishing Waqf and Its Conditions
Ruling 560:Waqf is established by any means that indicates it, whether by word or by conduct, by the endower or his agent. This is a unilateral declaration, which means that the beneficiary is not required to reciprocally accept it.
Ruling 561:The following conditions apply for the validity of the waqf:
(1) The endower should have the intention of qurbah – gaining proximity to Allah Almighty – as an obligatory precaution;
(2) The endowed item should be taken possession of from the endower, and if he dies before this the endowed item will be passed to his heirs as inheritance. As an obligatory precaution taking possession should be with the endower’s permission;
(3) The endowed item should be used by the beneficiaries if the endowment is general in nature, as an obligatory precaution;
(4) The endowment should be perpetual;
(5) The endowment should be unconditional.
Ruling 562:The endower should fulfil the following conditions:
(1) He should have the right of disposal over the endowed item;
(2) He should be sane;
(3) His right of disposal should not be restricted due to foolishness or the like;
(4) He should be an adult, as an obligatory precaution;
(5) He should make the endowment freely, by his own choice.
Ruling 563: The endowed thing should be a tangible item, rather than a service or benefit; it should exist and be specified, and it should have a lawful benefit which is possible to obtain.
Various Rulings on Waqf
Ruling 564: It is permissible for the endower to appoint himself or another person as a custodian over the endowment, whether it is in respect to investing it, or building it, or using it, etc. In such a situation, nobody will have the right to deal with it without the custodian’s permission.
Ruling 565: It is permissible to appoint more than one custodian, and such endowments are of two types:
(1) Joint-custodianship, where all the appointees are collectively custodians over the endowment, such as the scholars or the relatives.
(2) Successive custodianship, where one or some of the appointees are custodians at a given time, such as one’s offspring where each generation have custodianship, one after the other.
Ruling 566: It is permissible for the endower to set payment for the appointed custodian in lieu of his work, from the yields of the endowed property.
Ruling 567: The appointed custodian for any period of time is obligated to observe and consider the interests of the endowment in respect to all generations and eras, not just the period of time in which he is the custodian.
Ruling 568: Once the endowment is completed and all the conditions are fulfilled, it becomes binding, and neither the endower can annul it, or his heirs.
Ruling 569: It is not permissible to sell a mosque or the like which are the subject of endowments of the first category (mentioned at the beginning of the chapter). As for endowments of the second category, like that of a house for one’s offspring, it may be sold provided certain conditions are met – which are mentioned in detailed books of Islamic law – or if the endower explicitly allowed for it to be sold when certain circumstances arise, such as a dispute amongst the beneficiaries or the like.
Ruling 570: A religious endowment is proven to exist by any of the following ways:
(1) coming to know of it by any way;
(2) with the testimony of two adil men;
(3) the informing of the person who holds it;
(4) the way the people deal with it which indicates that it is a religious endowment, such as praying in a mosque.
Similarly the particulars of the endowment are also proven by these ways, such as the purpose or the type of endowment.
Semi-Endowment by Alienation of Property (Tahbis)
This type of endowment is similar to waqf as explained above, whereby the beneficiaries may benefit from the usage of the given property, but differs from it in that the alienated property – the proceeds and yields of which are given to the beneficiaries – still remains in the ownership of the endower.
Therefore, such endowment is a charitable bequest based on restricting the usage of an owned item for a certain person or persons or cause, such as for pilgrims or for the poor.
Ruling 571: It is necessary for such endowment to be established by anything that indicates it, by word or conduct, and that it consists of the intention of qurbah, as explained above.
Ruling 572: It is a binding declaration for the period specified by the endower, and neither he nor his heirs can annul it. If no specified period has been stipulated, then if it is understood that he desired it to be waqf, then it will be considered as waqf, and if this is not understood then the endowment and alienation of the property will end on his death.
Ruling 573: Such alienation includes the scenario where one alienates a part of a house for the residence of a particular person, whether it is for a certain number of years or until his death.
Ruling 574: The alienated property can be sold by its owner; however, the buyer will not be able to use it until the endowment period ends.