WAQF (endowment) is an important institution in the Islamic social framework that can harness the potential of selfless charitable giving for better economic impact in targeted segments of society.
Basically, waqf is similar to the endowment concept demonstrated by universities such as Cambridge, Harvard and Oxford, which were established under endowment programmes. Harvard Endowment, Harvard University’s largest financial asset, is made up of more than 13,000 individual funds invested as a single entity.
Waqf has a solid connection to syariah guidelines. Cash waqf is usually formed when the pooled donations are used to build institutions such as schools, hospitals and orphanages.
To me, waqf is an economic system of the people led by the people for the people. It leads to the creation of a third sector that complements the public and private sectors.
The practice of waqf in Malaysia can be traced back to the Malacca Sultanate in the 15th century. It went through remarkable changes during the colonization period by the Portuguese (1511-1641), Dutch (1641-1824), and British (1826-1946).
Under the Federal Constitution, waqf management was placed under the respective State Islamic Religious Councils. On March 27,2004, the government established the Department of Wakaf, Zakat and Haj to monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of waqf, zakat (alms-giving) and haj administration in every state.
Waqf also played a major role in the scientific and cultural achievements of the Islamic world, such as dissemination of knowledge, building of schools, mosques and public libraries, and paying for the upkeep of students.
During the Golden Ages of Islam, there were also waqf for astronomical and science laboratories, and educational hospitals to teach medicine, nursing and pharmacology.
The contemporary application of waqf can be established either by dedicating real estate, furniture, fixtures and equipment (FFE), other movable assets and liquid forms of money and wealth like cash and shares.
The 2021 Budget shows the government’s determination in empowering the management of waqf through collaborations between the Malaysia Waqf Foundation (MWF) and Federal Government agencies, Government-Linked Companies (GLC) and Government-Linked Investment Companies (GLIC).
In fact, such efforts were already underway when I took up my post as Religious Affairs Minister.
MWF, through Tabung Wakaf Malaysia (TWM), which will be established, will act as a huge umbrella for all types of wakaf collection with the cooperation of government agencies, GLCs, GLICs and the general public. It is expected to maximize the reach and awareness of wakaf to society.
A National Waqf Masterplan will also be established to ensure a more efficient waqf management and assets mobility in the future. Indeed, one of the most pressing issues in need of waqf support now is science and technology. The use of new technological solutions, such as blockchain technology, will enable the wise tracking and monitoring of waqf donors, recipients and businesses.
Quoting the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah: “Technological advances are being made every day, and emerging breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, nanotechnology and biotechnology will, no doubt, further enhance the potential of the waqf system in ways that we cannot imagine today.”
SENATOR DATUK DR ZULKIFLI MOHAMAD AL-BAKRI , Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs)
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