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OneUmmah Database & Waqaf

Waqaf: Its Meaning, Concept  and Benefit

Lecture delivered by Bilal A. Abdullahi at the Launch of the KMC OneUmmah Database & Waqaf, P.W. Jumma’ah Mosque, 31 Jan 2010.




For a couple of centuries now muslims all over the world have been struggling for progress, revival and development, after series of coordinated decline and underdevelopment they have been subjected to by the western Nations. More disturbing is the fact that a large number of disinformed scholars and so called experts believe that Muslim - nations revival, development and progress can only come from the west, through its values, systems and styles.

For decades now there have been attempts to import such so called western styles , values, progress and development. (in terms of financial dependence, economic power etc) through their ready-made norms and recipe. However we are all living witnesses that, these attempts and systems have all resulted in stumbles and failure.

            To overcome the seemingly underdevelopment, revive our status as bequeathed  to us by prophet (SAW) and get out of financial retrogression and crises, our system and search for excellence must be based on self-readiness, originality and creativity. Only then can an  inspiration from other peoples’ experiences and achievements could be relevant and beneficial.

We have to  rise up and develop potentials if we believe in ourselves; our position,  our ability, explore what we possess, develop it and use it as a basis, then we as muslims will talk of economic independence.

            Infact, the nations relying on themselves and their own cultural heritage can at last gain the ability to quickly adopt and harmonise between the adopted initiatives and system and the sound- cultural environment that receives, executes and interacts with these initiatives.

            The most outstanding mainfestations of our weakness, stumble and failure is our deep and aggravated crises in the social and economic fields. Unfortuately, indebtedness, unemployment, disemployment, poverty, the weak output in terms of productivity and education, failure in even overcoming illiteracy, and providing adequate education to our children, weakness of health care services are all permanant features in our (economic and social) situations, inspite of our rich Deen  (Islam)  and the large and diversified aspect of our wealth and population.

            Inspite of all these, we have not thought of taking recourse to our religion-Islam to solve these chronic problems; nor consider the experiences and systems that have proved their efficiency both in the past and present- such as the system of Zakkat, waqaf endowment and non- usurious economic system to solve these problems.

          Today’s discussion therefore is on one social/economic system that will attempt to define one of islamic economic and social needs,  either not known by some and or has been deliberately discarded by others who know. This economic/ social system practiced by our beloved prophet (SAW) and his sahaabas was WAQAF(endowment), which has been relegated to the  background nowadays.


Definition of Waqaf

The word waqaf is an arabic word, which literally means to come to a stop, to come to a standstill, (the verbform called-waqafa) or to bring to a stop, to bring to standstill, to arrest, to halt, to stop (another verbform -waqqafa). It can also mean to make a stand, to setup, to bring to a stop, to bring to a standstill, to postpone, to donate, to  bequeath (again another verb-awqafa).

            In noun form (waqaf- singular) and awqafa-plural means, stopping, halting, discontinuation, suspension, staying, standstill. In broad terms, generally, it is an endownment, typically donating a building or plot of land for muslim (religious) or charitable purposes. The concept  here is that of  “property reserved”, and its usufruct (stream of income) appropriated, for the benefit of specific individuals or for a general charitable purpose; the corpus becomes  inalienable, and Estates for life in favour of successive beneficiaries can be created, without considering the law of inheritance.

Others define it as the system of religious institution with revenue accuring from the property given. Such institutions are usually Masjids, schools or social institutions like hospitals. It (the waqaf) is therefore a permanent dedication of movable or immovable properties by a muslim for the following purposes  as recognised by Islamic law:

Ø Pious

Ø Religious

Ø Charitable.

Once the property is dedicated, the ownership is transferred to Allah. This would allow  the properties to be perpetually used for charity. In one of the prophet (SAW) hadith, it is stated that - (When the son of Adam dies, his/her acts come to an end except for three (3) reasons – sadaqat-ul jariya, knowledge that is beneficial and pious child who prays for him/her)

Linguistically, therefore, the word, waqaf in shari’a means to withhold the asset. e.g  if it is said that: the house is withheld for a mosque, this  means that the revenue of the rent of the house is withheld to be spent on the mosque. This therefore means that waqaf is to withold or stop ones money or (use of property) either in the form of a house or a commercial shop or any other form to spend same on whoever needs support like students, orphans, widows, etc. Others define it as a financial charitable institution established by withholding ones property to eternally spend its revenue on fulfilling certain needs depending on the choice and conditions made by the waqif or the person(s) who own(s) the property.

In some countries it is called Habs ( plural of Ahbas or Hubus). And from shariáh point of view, waqaf is defined as holding a maal (an asset) and preventing its consumption for the purpose of repeatedly extracting its usufruct for the benefit of an objective representing righteousness/philanthropy. Hence, waqaf is a continuos usufruct-giving asset as long as its principal is preserved. 

Allah (SWT)  says that “The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah, is as the ikeness of a grain ( of corn) ; it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wills. And

Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower. (Al – Baqarah

: 261)”

Islam propagates the spending of ones wealth in the way of Allah and

promises multi fold reward in return. It is no wonder that the act of

giving one’s wealth to achieve ‘Bir’ or goodness can be traced back in the

time of Rasullullah’s s.a.w as narrated in a Hadith from Ibni Umar

r.a..Rasulullah s.a.w advise that Umar’s land in Khaibar to be converted

as a waqaf ( freezing it permanently) , and the fruits from the farm were to

be distributed to the poor and needy, to liberate slaves and for the

wayfarer”.( Shamsiah  Abdulkarin,)


In summary waqaf in Islam, though was not fully recognised before the coming of prophet (SAW), when he the prophet (SAW) came, he encouraged it as a kind of a sustainable giving of “sadaqa-Jariya” that benefits the poor and the needy in a sustainable way. Scholars have told us that the origin of waqaf started with a story of the second caliph Umar ibn el-Khattab when he was granted gardens after opening Khaibar and came to the prophet (SAW) asking him about the best way to make the poor benefit  from this land. The prophet (SAW) advised him to eternally withhold the land and spend its revenue on the poor without it being subject to be donated nor inherited to anybody.  Since that time, the idea of waqaf continued to spread among Muslims at the time of prophet (SAW)

Although, the running features of waqaf is its manifestation in real property and preserving same for poor, thisrunning  feature of waqaf can also be in different forms. It may be inform of pledging the income/usufruct of an asset for a period of time at the end of which the asset and its income returns to the founder, in terms of distributing both its income and parts of it assets over repeated instalment to the beneficiaries, or in terms of a right granted to the beneficiaries to receive periodically, at repeated intervals or when needed, a flow of mobile objects or cash waqaf which dated back to as early as the turn of first century of Hijirah.

Cash waqaf had two forms:- First,  cash was made into waqaf to be used for free lending to the beneficiaries and second, cash was invested and its net returns is assigned to the beneficiaries in the Ummah.

The history of awqaf is very rich with prominent achievements in serving the poor in particular and enhancing the welfare of Ummah in general.


Types of Waqaf (Endowment)

Broadly speaking, there are two types of awqaf (endowments). Thus the family endowment – or called private – or offspring – or succession or sometimes known as waqaf al- Ahli (waqaf Khas), whose objective is to benefit waqif’s family and members  of the family being the beneficiaries.

The other type is called waqaf al-khairi (waqaf ’am) - i.e public waqaf, or called charity waqaf- whose objective is charitable in nature(amal-jariya) and the beneficiaries are members of public and public related organisations or institutions. Public waqaf objective is to serve the interest of the whole society (e.g Masjids, schools, orphanages, poor, needy etc.)

While the private waqaf usually serves the family members or partially for public beneficiaries. This kind of waqaf (endownment) was initiated (by the sahaabas) when they (the companions) of the prophet (SAW) started making such Awqaf imitating the footsteps of the second khalifa Umar ibn  Al-khattab.

Some scholars however added a third one known as  mushtarak waqaf or the joint waqaf. This according to them is a type of waqaf which is targeting part of the withheld property towards philanthropy and the other part to the family. However, examining this carefully, there is little or no difference with the two categoriesnamed above.


Whether private or public waqaf (endowment), the purpose/goal for setting up waqaf is the same, that is, it relates to the idea of birr (doing charity out of goodness). The late shaikh Mustapha Al-Zarka used to advise that the only one thing that is undisputed in Awqaf is that, its objective must be an act of benevolence “Birr”. The objective of waqaf (endowment) can be generally stated as follows:-

Ø Compliance with the orders of Allah Almighty in giving and spending.

Ø To achieve the principle of solidarity among members of the Ummah and the social balance so that love and brotherhood and sustainability and stability can be spread.

Ø To ensure the existence of money and the perpetuation of utilising the income of the endowment

Ø To achieve the goal of community development in the areas of social, economic, educational, health and other services.

Ø Link to the kinship and ensure the future of relations not be dependent on others


Difference Between Sadaqa and Waqaf

There are differences between waqaf and sadaqa as stated below, though some of the differences sometime overlap each other:-

Ø Sadaqa should go only to the poor and the needy, whereas waqaf can be directed to both the poor and the rich although the poor has the first priority.

Ø Sadaqa could be owned, sent, or granted while the waqaf has to be eternally kept without any intervention in its ownership.

Ø Sadaqa could be on any useful thing like food or clothes, but waqaf is majorly restricted to properties or assets that have revenue and could be sustained and withheld.


Origin and Development of Waqaf in Islam

In the history of Islam, the first example of religions waqaf is the mosque of Quba in Madinah. It was built upon the arrival of the prophet muhammad (SAW) in 622.

Another kind of waqaf that also developed during the time of the Holy propjet (SAW) was philanthrophic in nature, which aimed at supporting the poor segment of the society and all other activities which are of benefit to people at large (e.g. education, health services, etc). We also remember the seven orchards given to the prophet (SAW) by one named mukharriq, as a Will  he left before his death. Few years later, when he died, prophet (SAW) took hold of the orchards and made them charitable waqaf to benefit the poor and the needy.

This examplary life of the prophet was imitated and practiced by the companions of the prophet (SAW):-

Ø According to Abdullahi.  Ibn Umar (RDA), Umar (RDA) obtained a land lot in Khaibar and later endowed it as charity for the poor, relatives, slaves, wayfarers, and guests.

Ø Similarly, when prophet (SAW) arrived In Madinah and realized that the city had very little drinking water except the water of Bir Ruma (Ruma Well). Companions were contacted to buy the well andOthman (RDA), bought the well and endowed it to Muslim Ummah.

Ø It was narrated that Abu Talha (RDA) also endowed his garden (Bayruhaa) as charity to Muslim Ammah. From then Endowments from the prophet companion’s continued coming one after another.

Ø During Umayya Age, a lot of endowments increased due to the Islamic conquest e.g. a special department was set-up to oversee endowments at the time of Hisham bin Abdulmalik.


The same practice continued during Abbasid, Mamluk, Othman ages.


Many Islamic countries nowadays have given attention to endowments in various areas. For example in Saudi Arabia, a special Ministry of Endowments Affairs, to manage its affairs in a Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Advocacy and Guidance is in place.

As one travels in other Islamic World, from West Africa to China, where there is an established oneMuslim Community, one finds one form of waqaf or another. This practice has made waqaf endowments as a primary source of funding for social and economic services, such as building/maintaining masjids, education, health and other enterprises.


Benefits: Social and Economic

The importance of waqaf charitable activities is highlighted in several verses of the Holy Quran and also theSunnah of Prohpet Muhammad (SAW). These teachings, guidance also form the basis of legal aspect of the waqaf:- Allah (SWT) says in the Quran:-

Ø “Those who spend their wealth (in Allah’s cause) by night and day, in secret and in public, they shall have their reward with their lord. On them shall be no fear, no shall they grieve” (Al-imran; verse).

Ø “Verily, those who give Sadaqat (i.e Zakat and alms), men and women, and lend Allah a goodly loan, it shall be increased manifold ……..theirs shall be an honourable good reward (i.e paradise)” (Surah: Al-Hadid, verse 18).

Ø Those who spend (in Allah’s cause) in posterity and in adversity, who repress anger, who pardons men, verily Allah Loves al-Muhsinun (the good-doers) (surah: Al-Imran verse 134).


There are tens of such examples in qurán and books of sunna. There is no denying the fact that Islamic waqafhad and will continue to greatly contribute to the decrease of poverty and increase of education to largersegments of the society.

The educational role of waqaf started in  masjids which were not only a place of praying and worshipping, but were also a source of education where students used to come to learn. Similarly, it is this role of catering for our children to have a sound and Islamic oriented education that such endowment is alsocontemplated nowadays.

In addition, waqaf system will significantly  contribute to the health services sector through building hospitals and will also be used to support the underprivileged segments of the society, including orphans, elderly, people with special needs to alleviate their poverty and health care needs  in addition to complying with prophet (SAW) of Allah’s injunction on mixing men and women.

On the economic front, apart from generating employment in the enterprise set-up through waqaf (endowment), it effects in distribution of wealth and redistribution of income in the economy.


All these cannot be effectively achieved unless we unite as one Ummah overlooking our differences insocial/economic status, tribal difference, and political affiliation. At this time when muslims all over the world are made the target of perscution and humuliation we should do all it takes to assist KMC-which is our Umbrella body to effectively harness our human and material resources to be united  and be counted as one Ummah. It is equally in that regards that we need to know ourselves and have means of communicating to our selves easily and effectively; thus the need for OneUmmah database.

The idea of setting up Ummah database can be traced back to history to the time of Umar ibn Khattab, who was the first to conceptualise similar idea called diwan following  army expedition. As a result of this, one of his lieutanants (Al-Hamazan), suggested to him that “this is an expedition in which you ordered funds to be distributed among its people, but if anyone of them stayed behind, how would your companions know about him? Why don,t you keep a record (register-diwan) for this?”

As a result of this Umar therefore consulted the muslims about recording of the Dawawin and summoned ‘Aqeel ibn Talib and Makhrama ibn Nufayl and Jubayr ibn Ma’tam and told them to “ prepare a house to house census”

It is therefore in similar vain that, KMC’s effort in establishing this OneUmmah database for the whole kubwa muslim ummah should be supported and encouraged by all and the easiest and best way  to assist our Umbrella body i.e. KMC do this is to have our personal (names, phone numbers etc) profiles kept and managed as one database.



The Islamic system of Awqaf revolutionises the non profit section and its role in social welfare. It creats a permanent, cumulative and ever- increasing capital base and infrastructure for benevolent activities.

            Awqaf expands the scope of benevolence to cover all areas of social welfare and economic wellbeing.

            The concept and application of waqaf and its benefits are uplifting the social and economic life of the muslims in the  society as a whole. It emphasises that the fulfillment of Islamic obligation is not only in the rituals of prayers and fasting; but more importantly also , to help create a just and secured society  for the muslim- ummah. We therefore called on all brothers and sisters in Kubwa to please embrace this brotherhood and revive this Sunna for the betterment of our children and Islam.