What is Wakaf (Waqaf)?

In Arabic وَقْف‎ , Wakaf (Waqaf) means to stop or contain. In Islamic terms, it is a religious endowment. This voluntary action is an ongoing dedication of one’s wealth to benefit a community. An example of this would be to build a hospital or a school.

A person can’t own a Wakaf (Waqaf) donation and it isn’t something that can be sold. The benefits of this donation continues through generations.

Wakaf (Waqaf) with Islamic Relief

Islamic Relief delivers Wakaf (Waqaf) through its subsidiary, International Waqf Fund. Donations are put into sharia compliant investments and the profits are used to support our international development work. Furthermore, donations are also re-invested to aid growth.

Origins of Wakaf (Waqaf)

Some of the Muhajiroon didn’t like the water of Madinah as it was hard to drink. They were more used to the sweet Zamzam water in Makkah. In Madinah there was a well called Rumah and its water tasted similar to Zamzam. However, the owner of the well was greedy and charged people for even a handful of water.

The Prophet (SAW) offered a garden in Paradise for the one who would buy the well. When Uthman (RA) heard this, he purchased the well after lengthy negotiations and left it as an endowment.

Over time, date palms grew around the well and the authorities sold the dates. The sale of dates has produced a healthy income and many people around the world have benefitted from it.

The water well has since benefited lots of people, all adding to the good deeds of a man that passed away over a thousand years ago.

Wakaf (Waqaf) in the Quran

It is not explicitly prescribed in the Qur’an, however charity is.

Building on the importance of Zakat as a pillar of Islam and the need to give in charity, Wakaf (Waqaf) can be considered in comparison to Sadaqah – including Sadaqah Jariyah.

Hadith emphasise the importance of the Islamic duty to give in charity.

The Prophet (SAW) said:

“When a person dies, all their deeds end except three: a continuing charity, beneficial knowledge and a child who prays for them.” [Muslim]

In light of this, Wakaf (Waqaf) investments are an important part of Islam and many examples can be found throughout Islamic history.

Types of Wakaf (Waqaf)

Waqfs can be used for a range of purposes for the benefit of a community, including:

  • Learning institutes – schools and universities
  • Plots of land
  • Mosques
  • Offices
  • Hospitals – including doctors’ salaries, medicine, equipment and repairs
  • Medical schools – including building maintenance and salaries

The investments must be for the benefit of the public.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Wakaf (Waqaf)?

It is a sustainable, ongoing charitable endowment (such as Sadaqah Jariyah) which has been widely used throughout Islamic history to develop and support communities.

Is there interest involved in Wakaf (Waqaf)?

Never – this type of capital investment is Sharia compliant.

What is an example of a famous Wakaf (Waqaf)?

Al Azhar Mosque and University in Egypt is one of the oldest universities in the world, it was established over 1,000 years ago as a Wakaf (Waqaf) donation.

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