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Citizens’ Participation in Protecting Waqf Properties

All religious and national groups should incorporate Waqf into their projects with importance. People from various schools of thought and ideologies need to come forward.

  

 

 

 

– Syed Ahmed Ali

Waqf (plural awqaf) is an Arabic term meaning assets donated or purchased for the benefit of society.

Allah encourages charity, as mentioned in the Quran, Surah 25, Al-Furqan, Verse 67: (The true servants of the Merciful One are) those who are neither extravagant nor niggardly in their spending but keep the golden mean between the two.

Maulana Maududi said: The true servants of Allah neither go beyond prudence and necessity in expenditure nor live in wretched circumstances in order to save and hoard money but are frugal. This was the characteristic of the followers of the Prophet ﷺ, which distinguished them from the well-to-do people of Arabia, who were either spending thrifts in regard to the gratification of their own lusts or niggardly in spending their money on good works.

According to Islam, extravagance is: (1) To spend even the smallest amount of money in unlawful ways. (2) To go beyond one’s own resources in expenditure even in lawful ways, or to spend money for one’s own pleasure. (3) To spend money in righteous ways not for the sake of Allah but for mere show.

On the other hand, one is miserly if one doesn’t spend money for his own needs and requirements and those of his family in accordance with his resources and position, or if one doesn’t spend money for good works. Islam teaches the golden mean between the two extremes. The Prophet ﷺ has said: It is a sign of wisdom to adopt the golden mean in one’s living. (Ahmad, Tabarani).

The importance of waqf property in Islam lies in its potential to foster selflessness in individuals, and this act of giving can have a positive and effective economic impact on society. Although waqf has a pure cause, it remains a topic of discussion and has been the target of many occupiers, encroachments, and various other issues. To understand how citizens’ participation in protecting waqf properties is possible, we have engaged in dialogue with experts, including Mr. Inam ur Rehman, Assistant Secretary, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind; Dr. Amir Jamal, a Ph.D. on Waqf; and Rubina A. Ansari, M.Ed., a teacher.

Inam ur Rehman, Assistant Secretary, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind

Waqf holds religious and legal significance, which is why the detailed regulations are outlined in various jurisprudential books. Regrettably, a large portion of the Muslim community is not aware of the religious and legal importance of Waqf. In most states, Waqf properties exist, with varying extents – some states have a considerable number, while others fewer. However, the common scenario in every state is that Waqf properties are vulnerable to issues due to neglect and a lack of interest from the government, administration, and the Muslim community.

Although mosques, madrasas, and graveyards, which are Waqf properties, are somehow secure in certain regions and in some states, they aren’t. Moreover, agricultural lands and commercial plots designated as Waqf are either encroached upon by others or leased out for very nominal amounts, resulting in meagre earnings compared to their potential. At some places, even the nominal rent is not received on time.

Here, the question is how the current condition of Waqf can be improved. The answer is straightforward: it requires public awareness. This task requires collective consciousness in the community. All religious and national groups should incorporate Waqf into their projects with importance, and practical implementation is essential. People from various schools of thought and ideologies need to come forward. It’s also a reality that whenever Waqf is mentioned before the community, it’s mostly perceived negatively. The general belief is that nothing productive can come out of Waqf, and the institutions responsible for the protection and management of Waqf are often seen as corrupt and self-serving. While the existing laws regarding Waqf are relatively better, they aren’t effectively utilized to protect and develop Waqf.

Much can still be done, and much can be achieved. It’s just a matter of determination, patience, and dedication. With the strength of perseverance and independence, along with sincerity, if efforts are made to create a well-thought-out plan, there’s no reason why positive results cannot emerge.

Dr. Amir Jamal, Ph.D. on Waqf

Initiating a comprehensive campaign to raise awareness about waqf properties is imperative, as a lack of awareness often leads to inadvertent encroachments. Leveraging various media channels can serve as powerful tools in disseminating crucial information about the significance and legal consequences associated with encroachment of waqf properties.

Establishing neighborhood-level teams and providing them with targeted training on the importance of endowment can yield a genuine public attachment. Formation of these teams should be complemented by efforts to strengthen the relationship between custodians of waqf properties and the community teams. This synergy is vital for reducing encroachments and facilitating recovery efforts through the active involvement of residents.

It is essential to identify influential figures within the community who can champion the cause. Empowering these leaders with specialized training and eliciting positive actions from them will play a pivotal role in building widespread public consciousness and support for the protection of waqf properties.

Rubina A. Ansari, M.Ed, Teacher

Waqf properties, vital to religious, charitable, and community purposes, face challenges like encroachment and mismanagement. Citizens’ involvement is crucial in protecting these assets. Raising awareness about waqf properties’ significance and the consequences of neglect is a key citizen action. Citizens can also monitor and report any encroachment or misuse, forming community watch groups and collaborating with local authorities to prevent unauthorized activities. Moreover, citizens can contribute to the maintenance and enhancement of waqf properties through volunteerism and community-led initiatives.

Advocacy for policies that support waqf property preservation, community stewardship, legal action against violations, and fostering partnerships with relevant stakeholders are ways citizens’ participation can be enhanced. Collaboration with religious authorities, local governments, and non-profit organizations is essential. Technology and innovative solutions, including digital platforms and geospatial mapping, can also empower citizens in protecting waqf properties.

Ultimately, citizens’ participation in safeguarding waqf properties aligns with upholding values of charity, community welfare, and religious endowment. By actively preserving waqf properties, citizens contribute to maintaining a tradition that has served as a cornerstone of charitable and communal support for centuries.

In conclusion, citizens’ participation is indispensable in protecting waqf properties, ensuring their proper use, and safeguarding them for future generations. Through awareness-raising, vigilance, community engagement, advocacy, and collaborative action, citizens can make a meaningful impact on preserving and enhancing waqf properties as essential resources for serving the needs of communities and upholding the principles of giving and welfare within Islamic tradition.

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