New Delhi : The Ministry of Minority Affairs has taken a major step in the upkeep and maintenance of Waqf properties in the country and had designed a schedule for their development. This calendar year has witnessed a major move towards ensuring the benefit of waqf properties to Muslims, for which, the Ministry of Minority Affairs has identified more than 80 properties for development in various states.
These properties belong to 22 Waqf institutions or State Waqf located in states such as Rajasthan, Bihar, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Telangana and Delhi.A major scrutiny work had begun since last year, and during 2014-15, extensive efforts were made to create awareness about the objectives of NAWADCO and to identify the potential Waqf properties in urban areas.
A waqf, as explained under the context of ‘sadaqah’, is said to be an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically donating a building or plot of land or even cash for Muslim religious or charitable purposes with no intention of reclaiming the assets. These donated assets can rest in the hands of individuals, or may be held by a charitable trust. The grant is known as mushrut-ul-khidmat, and the person making such dedication is known as wakif.
The term waqf literally means ‘confinement and prohibition’ or causing a thing to stop or stand still. However, when interpreted on legal terms, the legal meaning of Waqf according to Imam Abu Hanifa, is the detention of a specific thing in the ownership of waqf and the devoting of its profit or products ‘in charity of poors or other good objects’. Although waqf is an Islamic institution, yet, it may well be the case that being a Muslim is not required to establish a waqf, and dhimmis may establish a waqf. The proceeds of the waqf would take its own course during the life cycles of individuals, and finally, if a person is fatally ill, the waqf is subject to the same restrictions as a will in Islam.
The property dedicated to waqf mainly falls under the category of immovable assets, such as estate. However, all movable goods can also form a part of waqf holdings, according to most Islamic jurists. The Hanafis, however, also allow most movable goods to be dedicated to a waqf with some restrictions. Some jurists have argued that even gold and silver (or other currency) can be designated as waqf.
The beneficiaries of the waqf can be either persons and/or public utilities. The founder needs to specify which persons are eligible for benefit (such the founder’s family, entire community, only the poor, or travelers). In the case of public utilities such as mosques, schools, bridges, graveyards and drinking fountains, these assets can remain stay put as the beneficiaries of a waqf. Modern legislation divides the waqf into two categories, namely — ‘charitable causes’, in which the beneficiaries are the public or the poor and ‘family’ waqf, in which the founder makes the beneficiaries his relatives. There can also be multiple beneficiaries like family, and public like ppor, needy — all inclusive.
Waqf is intended to be perpetual and last forever. yet, Islamic law envisages conditions under which the waqf may be terminated, and a series of exigencies are detailed out for such emergency exits. The waqf in Islamic law, which developed in the medieval Islamic world from the 7th to 9th centuries, bears a notable resemblance to the English trust law. The only significant distinction between the Islamic waqf and English trust stood on grounds such as — the express or implied reversion of the waqf to charitable purposes when its specific object has ceased to exist (in case of Islamic family trust), and matters like — the English vesting of ‘legal estate’ over the trust property in the trustee (though the trustee was still bound to administer that property for the benefit of the beneficiaries.)