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Template:Fiqh-Eco A waqf (Arabic: وقف‎, pronounced [ˈwæqf]; plural Arabic: أوقاف‎, awqāf; Turkish: vakıf) is an inalienable religious endowment in Islam, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. It is conceptually similar to the common law trust.

Funding of schools and hospitals

After the Islamic waqf law and madrassah foundations were firmly established by the 10th century, the number of Bimaristan hospitals multiplied throughout Islamic lands. In the 11th century, every Islamic city had at least several hospitals. The waqf trust institutions funded the hospitals for various expenses, including the wages of doctors, ophthalmologists, surgeons, chemists, pharmacists, domestics and all other staff, the purchase of foods and medicines; hospital equipment such as beds, mattresses, bowls and perfumes; and repairs to buildings. The waqf trusts also funded medical schools, and their revenues covered various expenses such as their maintenance and the payment of teachers and students.[1]

Comparisons with trust law

The waqf in Islamic law, which developed in the medieval Islamic world from the 7th to 9th centuries, bears a notable resemblance to the English trust law.[2] Every waqf was required to have a waqif (founder), mutawillis (trustee), qadi (judge) and beneficiaries.[3] Under both a waqf and a trust, "property is reserved, and its usufruct appropriated, for the benefit of specific individuals, or for a general charitable purpose; the corpus becomes inalienable; estates for life in favor of successive beneficiaries can be created" and "without regard to the law of inheritance or the rights of the heirs; and continuity is secured by the successive appointment of trustees or mutawillis."[4]

The only significant distinction between the Islamic waqf and English trust is "the express or implied reversion of the waqf to charitable purposes when its specific object has ceased to exist",[5] though this difference only applied to the waqf ahli (Islamic family trust) rather than the waqf khairi (devoted to a charitable purpose from its inception). Another difference was the English vesting of "legal estate" over the trust property in the trustee, though the "trustee was still bound to administer that property for the benefit of the beneficiaries." In this sense, the "role of the English trustee therefore does not differ significantly from that of the mutawalli."[6]

The trust law developed in England at the time of the Crusades, during the 12th and 13th centuries. The trust was introduced by Crusaders who were influenced by the waqf institutions they came across in the Arab World.[7][8]

See also


  1. Micheau, Francoise, "The Scientific Institutions in the Medieval Near East", pp. 999–1001 , in (Morelon & Rashed 1996, pp. 985-1007)
  2. (Gaudiosi 1988)
  3. (Gaudiosi 1988, pp. 1237-40)
  4. (Gaudiosi 1988, p. 1246)
  5. (Gaudiosi 1988, pp. 1246-7)
  6. (Gaudiosi 1988, p. 1247)
  7. (Hudson 2003, p. 32)
  8. (Gaudiosi 1988, pp. 1244-5)


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