Women in Bangladesh standing in a field, having benefitted from a sustainable livelihoods project

What is Waqf?

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

A Waqf endowment usually benefits the community as a whole by offering a service that is useful to society, such as a hospital or a university.

In Arabic, Waqf, or the plural, Awqaf, means ‘restriction’ because it acknowledges that all properties belong to God. A donation – be it a library or a cash sum- cannot ever be owned by any person; instead its possession is transferred to God, but the benefits are reaped by man. The original donor no longer owns the endowment. Waqf is known in some Arabic countries as ‘hibss’ or in plural ‘hubouss’.

Imagine a field is donated as Waqf. The community may use the field in a way that is beneficial – by planting fruit and vegetables, for example. When ripe, the harvest will benefit the whole community. But because nobody owns the field itself, the donation is ongoing and will support generation after generation. Take a look at some famous examples of Waqf.

How does Islamic Relief implement Waqf?