Author: Mohamed Hamza Ghaouri, Intern at FINTERRA
Waqf played an important role from the time of the Prophet (PBUH) until the beginning of the 19th century, particularly in the Ottoman Empire. Historically, Awqaf institutions played a crucial role in supporting the State by providing a variety of social welfare schemes covering multiple objectives. It was developed by Muslims jurists to meet needs which are now State funded. In the Ottoman Empire, it gained prominence by assisting the State in providing public welfare and services. Waqf services were so widespread at that time that it was said that a person’s life cycle may be part of Waqf. A person may be born in a waqf nursing home, educated in Waqf schools, worked in some Waqf institutions, received medical treatment in a Waqf hospital and could be buried in a Waqf graveyard.
Twenty-first-century witnessed the development of the institution of Waqf in the creation of Cash-Waqf. It has widened the scope of Waqf since it allows the acceptance of donations of Waqf in the form of money and other movable property. In addition, contributions are no longer limited to the wealthy since donations can be made in cash big or small. Many Cash-Waqf based models have been developed and implemented. A few of those are:
- Waqf shares;
- Deposit Cash-waqf;
- Compulsory Cash-waqf;
- Corporate Waqf;
- Waqf Sukuk;
- Deposit Waqf product;
- Co-operative Waqf;
The main objective of these schemes is to raise funds from the general public to support the welfare of the society. The potential of the Waqf has increased dramatically, offering the possibility of raising huge amounts of funds for different welfare without depending too much on government assistance.
Through various programs, Waqf institutions around the world are increasingly contributing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations in 2015. Following are some of the contributions of Cash-Waqf to various sectors in different countries for sustainable development:
- Education (SDG.4 Quality education): Financing the teaching of Arabic and Islamic subjects, paying the salaries of teachers, building centres to teach Arabic language, colleges, universities, giving scholarships in Chad, Gambit, Philippine, Albania and Kosovo.
- Health (SDG.3 Good health and well-being): Providing medical care, financing medical facilities, providing physical amenities, providing free medical services to the poor and needy, providing medical equipment’s and building hospitals, building dental clinics, building a hospital for cancer patients in Egypt, Palestine, Malaysia, Philippine and Kuwait.
- Training centres (SDG.7 decent work and economic growth): Computer training centres and providing entrepreneur development programs in Indonesia and many African countries such as Nigeria, and Uganda.
- Farms and productive projects (SDG.7 decent work and economic growth): Funding different farms and agriculture projects in Philippine, Bangladesh, India and Uganda.
- Orphans (SDG.10 reduce inequalities): Sponsoring orphans, building and maintaining orphanages and providing orphans with proper education in Uganda and India.
- Social projects (SDG.10 reduce inequalities): Sponsoring the cost of weddings, sponsoring productive projects for needy families, financing burials of poor Muslims, financing charity projects in Sudan and Palestine.
- Seasonal projects (SDG.10 reduce inequalities): Financing the cost of preparing meals for breaking the fast (iftar) during the month of Ramadhan, and distributing the meat during the month of sacrifices in Malawi, Nigeria, Cambodia, Kurdistan and Somalia.
- Water wells (SDG.6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all): Constructing dams, digging surface wells and supplying the poor and needy with water coolers in India, Jordan, Somalia, Africa, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Somalia.
- Economic empowerment (SDG1.No poverty): Financing widows, destitute and disabled persons, providing free interest loan and opening jobs for the majority of people.
Despite economic and civilizational progress, Waqf remains one of the powerful instruments that address modern socio-economic problems in society. It helps to redistribute wealth and offers a huge opportunity for humanity to reduce poverty and solve current socio-economic problems in a more equitable way and thereby help people to live in dignity.
Mohamed Hamza Ghaouri
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Setting a Maqasid-Driven Development Agenda for Islamic Finance – IV
Contemporary Awqaf and SDGs – I
Contemporary Awqaf and SDGs – II