Muslim scholars have advocated the resuscitation of the waqf institution in a bid to ensure social security, promotion of communal/national development and better standards of living for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The respected scholars made the call at the grand finale of the activities marking the 10th anniversary of Muslim Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation (MUZASAF) held on Sunday at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, with the launch of N200 million waqf.
Muslim News gathered waqf, meaning endowment fund, is an indispensable financial tool employed by Muslim societies in times past, which has been held with lesser importance for a very long time and as such has not fulfilled its purpose.
It’s a relevant tool in ensuring social security – Sheikh AbdurRahman Ahmad
The National Missioner of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Ahmad, who spoke on the theme: “Increase your Blessings”, described waqf as the dedication or endowment of a property to a course to finance it.
He said, “Waqf is the equivalent of endowment. It involves dedicating a property and holding it to finance education, research, or health among others and the proceeds or product is used to finance the said cause.
“It is a structured system with coordinated financing, administration and management. It has been used to finance many educational projects including the first university ever known, Al-Azhar University in Cairo. It is a long-term and relatively more sustainable means of funding projects, inherited by Muslims.”
He noted that a waqf is a relevant tool in ensuring social security.
“Waqf endowment can be used to fund many projects. If you go to Saudi Arabia for hajj today, you’ll see many freebies based on waqf. Some buildings around Haram and the Prophet’s (SAW) Mosque in Madinah are awqaaf (endowments). They were dedicated to education, poverty eradication and healthcare service, so, waqf is multipotent.”
The respected Muslim scholar identified nationalism and westernization as reasons responsible for the backslide in the practice of Waqf which was popular before the 20th century and opined that increased awareness will help in reviving the Islamic finance tool to ensure the fulfilment of its purpose in society.
Distinguishing between zakat and waqf, he said, “Zakat is fixed and obligatory, not everyone is eligible for it while waqf is done at a person’s discretion.”
Why waqf is not popular In south – Imran Eleha
Corroborating, the President of Daaru Na’im Academy, Sheikh Imran Eleha said Muslims are not supposed to be poor, adding that the Islamic financial system has tools for equitable distribution of wealth but abuse or boycott of the said tools can result in the prevalence of poverty among Muslims.
Some Muslims are poor because they have been robbed by the rich, Eleha says.
He added: “Wherever you see poor Muslims, you should know that some rich men have robbed them of their supposed wealth. This means that the rich have failed to fulfill their responsibilities towards the poor. They have refused to pay zakat and failed to invest in waqf. So, they lavish in la dolce vita (sweet life) while their neighbours wallow in abject poverty. That’s exactly what happens everywhere you find Muslims in abject poverty.”
Muslim News findings revealed that waqf institution is well established in the northern part of the country, and has been employed to finance many projects such as mosques, hospitals, and boreholes, among others.
In January 2023, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto signed into law a bill on zakat and waqf, but such a laudable gesture has not been deployed in southwest Nigeria.
Sheikh Eleha, however, disclosed that lack of knowledge and awareness is the reason most people don’t invest in waqf in southern Nigeria.
“Unlike the north, it is not very common in the south, because most people don’t know the right thing. It’s up to scholars and clergymen to educate them on right and wrong and make them see the relevance. Failure to convince them of the benefits will not make people invest in the course. It is a call on scholars to set their priorities right as many are only chasing frivolities,” he said.
Why we floated the foundation a decade ago – DG
Alhaji (Engr.) Mutiu Olajobi, MUZASAF Director General, while welcoming guests to the event, said the foundation was established with the aim of empowerment, making people self-sufficient and creating sustainable sources of income for the poor.
According to him, “The vision has always been to Assist Muslims to fulfill their divine obligations to their Creator as prescribed in Qur’an 9: 105; and we’ve always been on the mission of providing avenues for zakat and sadaqah administration for individuals and corporate bodies.
“MUZASAF’s purpose remains empowering people to be economically self-sufficient, creating sustainable income sources for the poor, and meeting individuals at their points of need. All these have the goals of returning zakat to its rightful position in the community of believers, bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, creating a credible channel of distribution of zakat, reawakening the spirit of social responsibility among Muslims, and ensuring even distribution of wealth among the less privileged ones.”
The DG expressed a strong belief in the fact that more can be done, even with increasing demands and fattening challenges.
“We believe we can still do more as the challenge of meeting requests continues to be enormous. Over the period, our disbursement performances still hover around 30% of requests. We think that more is still to be done to get more funds to support those who need our assistance. We also reckon that some of our donors also respond to calls from other people, societies, and organisations as well, hence, we need to device sustainable means of increasing funds generated annually to avoid what we call “donor fatigue.”
“Therefore, this occasion shall also be used to institute an endowment fund (waqf) to raise a substantial amount in the range of N420 million (in the first instance) as seed money, to be invested for annual returns, which profit can be deployed to empower more people annually. We hope more people will join us in this course. We also pray for Allah’s blessing over these efforts”
MUZASAF honours eminent Muslims
The 10th anniversary also featured an award presentation to some Muslim personalities who were recognised for their contributions to the growth of the Foundation. One of them is the Group Managing Director of Complete Communications Limited, Nigeria’s pioneer sports publisher, Alhaji Dr. Mumini Alao.
Speaking with Muslim News, Alhaji Alao said, “It shows that the organisation, MUZASAF, appreciates what one has been doing and when one is recognized, one is encouraged to do more, but more importantly, the glory goes to almighty Allah for granting one the grace to make the contributions one is being recognized for, so, Alhamdulillah.”
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