Wakf under Muslim Law


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Charity and dedication of property for the religious property is common practice among all the religion in the world. Endowments for religious and pious purposes in Muslim Law is called wakf. Acc to Wakf Validating Act, 1913 wakf means the permanent dedication by a person professing the Mussalman faith of any property for any property for any purpose recognized by the Mussalman law as religious, pious or charitable. In India, there are more than one lakh wakfs valued at more than a hundred crores, so it becomes a necessity to study and understand the concept of Wakf under Muslim Law.


In utterance of the prophet, wakf’s origin can be traced. One Omar   Ibnal-Khattab went to Prophet and asked, “O Messenger of Allah! I have got land in Khyber than which I have obtained more valuable property. What does thou advise me?”. To this Prophet replied, “if thou likest( if you like) make the property itself ALIENATE and give the profits from it to the charity. This encounter brings out the briefest definition “Tie up the substance and give away the fruits.” In its early days, the law of wakfs was highly uncertain. Later a body of rules based on ijma was developed in later centuries.

Types of Wakf under Muslim Law

Wakf under Muslim Law are classified into two categories :

  1. Family Wakfs: The family wakf or wakf for alal-aulad are primarily based on ijma. Family wakfs made exclusively for the benefit of wakif’s family are invalid. However, Wakfs made for the benefit of wakif’s family as well as for charity( no matter for the howsoever remote period it may be for) are valid. Howsoever illusory wakf maybe, if the ultimate benefit is for charity, then the wakf is valid.
  2. Public Wakfs: Public Wakfs are what wakfs are in ordinary meaning i.e., endowments for religious purposes. The purpose is to serve public at large.

Essentials of a Valid Wakf

  1. Permanent dedication of Property.
  2. The founder or dedicator(wakif) must be a competent person
  3. The subject-matter of the wakf must be a transferable property.
  4. The object of wakf must be religious, pious or charitable.
  5. Formalities required to constitute the wakf must be duly completed.
  6. It can be oral or written but should be clear and unambiguous.

Who can make a Wakf under Muslim Law

One who makes the wakf is called wakif(waqif). Any Muslim who has attained the age of majority (18 years) and who is sound mind can make a wakf. The Mussalman Wakf Validating Act,1913 makes it mandatory that only a Muslim can make a wakf.

Subject-matter of the wakf

The subject matter of wakf can be tangible or intangible or, movable or immovable property. Basically, it can be any property. However, wakif(waqif) should be the owner of the property at the time of dedication. Furthermore, it must be capable of being used without being consumed.

Laws governing Wakf under Muslim Law

Mussalman Wakf Validating Act, 1913 came into force on 7 March 1913 having retrospective effect. Then in 1923, central govt. passed the Wakf Act,1923 for the better management of Wakf properties and for ensuring the proper accounts of wakfs fund. The act was further amended by Wakf Act, 1954. The Wakf Act, 1954 is not in force in U.P., Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra and West Bengal. These states have their own state statutes governing wakf.

The Wakf Act, 1954 has created two main organs for the supervision of Waf administration

  1. The Central Wakf Council
  2. The State Wakf Boards

In India, there are more than 1 lakh wakfs valued at more than a hundred crores of rupees. There are numerous examples of mismanagement of wakf properties. The last amended act came in 1954. Therefore, the need of the time is to check and balance the power of wakf boards in India. The wakfs are unable to perform the divine purposes for which they were made because of corruption among boards and mutawallis.

Written By Anki Rautri, University School of Law and Legal Studies


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