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A waqf (Arabic: وقف‎‎) also known as habous or mortmain property, is an inalienable charitable endowment under Islamic law, which typically involves donating a building, plot of land or other assets for Muslim religious or charitable purposes with no intention of reclaiming the assets. The donated assets may be held by a charitable trust. The person making such dedication is known as wakif, a donor. In Ottoman Turkish law, and later under the British Mandate of Palestine, the waqf was defined as usufruct State land (or property) of which the State revenues are assured to pious foundations. Although based on several hadiths and presenting elements similar to practices from pre-Islamic cultures, it seems that the specific full-fledged Islamic legal form of endowment called waqf dates from the 9th century CE (see paragraph "History and location").

In Sunni jurisprudence, waqf, also spelled wakf (Arabic: وقف‎‎, pronounced [ˈwɑqf]; plural Arabic: أوقاف‎‎, awqāf; Turkish: vakıf ) is synonymous with ḥabs (also called ḥubs or ḥubus and commonly rendered habous in French).Habs and similar terms are used mainly by Maliki jurists. In Twelver Shiism, ḥabs is a particular type of waqf, in which the founder reserves the right to dispose of the waqf property. The person making the grant is called al-waqif (or al-muhabbis) while the endowed assests are called al-mawquf (or al-muhabbas).

  • be an adult
  • be sound of mind
  • capable of handling financial affairs
  • not under interdiction for bankruptcy
  • They must be identifiable. At least some of the beneficiaries must also exist at the time of the founding of the waqf. The Mālikīs, however, hold that a waqf may exist for some time without beneficiaries, whence the proceeds accumulate are given to beneficiaries once they come into existence. An example of a non-existent beneficiary is an unborn child.
  • The beneficiaries must not be at war with the Muslims. Scholars stress that non-Muslim citizens of the Islamic state (dhimmi) can definitely be beneficiaries.
  • The beneficiaries may not use the waqf for a purpose in contradiction of Islamic principles.
  • If the goods of the waqf are destroyed or damaged. Scholars interpret this as the case where goods are no longer used in the manner intended by the founder. The remains of the goods are to revert to the founder or his/her heirs. Other scholars, however, hold that all possibilities must be examined to see if the goods of the waqf can be used at all, exhausting all methods of exploitation before the termination. Thus, land, according to such jurists, can never become extinguished.
  • A waḳf can be declared null and void by the ḳāḍī, or religious judge, if its formation includes committing acts otherwise illegal in Islam, or it does not satisfy the conditions of validity, or if it is against the notion of philanthropy. Since waqf is an Islamic institution it becomes void if the founder converts to another religion.
  • According to the Mālikī school of thought, the termination of the waqf may be specified in its founding declaration. As the waqf would expire whenever its termination conditions are fulfilled (e.g. the last beneficiary). The waqf property then returns to the founder, his/her heirs, or whoever is to receive it.
  • Real property, mortgage and wakf according to Ottoman law, by D. Gatteschi. Pub. Wyman & Sons, 1884.
  • Waqf in Central Asia: four hundred years in the history of a Muslim shrine, 1480–1889, by R. D. McChesney. Princeton University Press, 1991. ISBN
  • Wakf administration in India: a socio-legal study, by Khalid Rashid. Vikas Pub., 1978. .


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