Sunset over a mosque

Famous Awqaf

According to Othman ibn Affan (ra), The Prophet (pbuh) said; Whom would buy “Romah Well” and make his share like the rest of the whole people?

Othman (ra) bought the well and did as the Prophet had said, and it was one of the first ‘endowments’ in the Islamic history. This example highlights the importance of the public services, and they should be available to everyone (Sahih Al Bokhary).

In addition, Ibn Umar (ra) said the Prophet (pbuh) first encouraged the concept of Waqf when Umar (ra) asked the prophet “Allah’s Messenger, I have acquired land in Khaibar. I have never acquired more valuable for me than this, so what do you command me to do with it?”

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “If you like, you may give the benefit to charity whilst preserving it, so that it can no longer be bought, nor be sold, nor may it be possible to give it away or bequeath it.”

Umar endowed the land as Waqf to the benefit of the community, and declared that the property must not be sold or inherited or given away as a gift. (Sahih Muslim)

Around the world we see Waqf, which has benefitted communities for hundreds of years. Here are a few examples from the Middle East and Europe.

The Middle East

Al Azhar Mosque and University, Cairo – Egypt
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 Waqf donation. This Waqf was funded by a number of donors, which enables it to keep its independence.

Al Andalus Mosque, Fez – Morocco
The Al-Andalus Mosque is generally accepted to have been founded as a Waqf donation to the community by Mariam Al Fihri.

Cairo University, Cairo – Egypt
Cairo University was founded in 1908 as Waqf. The initial Waqf funds were donated by influential individuals, intellectuals and members of the wider Egyptian society.

Zaytouna University, Tunis – Tunisia
Zaytouna was the second mosque to be built in North Africa and also serves as a university. With Waqf donations, it was built around the year 703, and is still used today.

Charity Foundation for the Memorization of the Holy Qur’an, Riyadh –KSA
The Charity Foundation for the Memorization of the Holy Qur’an was established in 1966 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Mohammed bin Rasheid Al Maktoum Foundation – United Arab Emirates
In 2007, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates announced the establishment of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation. The Foundation offers education and development programmes, promoting knowledge and entrepreneurship by supporting research.

King Saud University endowment, Riyadh – KSA
The King Saud University launched its Waqf programme with the aim of securing sustainable funding for scientific research, as well as supporting widowed or orphaned families.

Waqf in Europe

The contemporary civilization spotted the idea of Waqf, and comprehended its importance and effectiveness in serving and supporting communities. The Waqf principle has been embraced in Europe.

Here are a few European examples of Waqf – as well as endowments that are based on the same principles as Waqf.

National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) – UK
NESTA is an independent body which invests in innovation companies using principles closely linked to Waqf. They use returns on investments to fund these projects. However, unlike Islamic Relief, NESTA uses interest as source of funding.

Athens Community Centre – Greece
Donated to The Europe Trust and the Hellenic-Arabic Cultural Centre Association (HAC) in 2005, this centre houses the HAC cultural activities.

European Institute of Human Sciences, Wales – UK
EIHS is an institute in South Wales which educates students up to degree level in Arabic and Islamic studies. It is a Waqf institute, founded with help from The Europe Trust and the Hellenic-Arabic Cultural Centre Association.

Merton College, Oxford University – United Kingdom
According to Dr Paul Brand, the statute by which Merton College, Oxford, was founded was inspired by Islamic Waqf. The perpetual endowment ensured the college was kept running through the ages.

Read more about our Waqf programme.