What is Waqf?
In Arabic language the word "Waqf" or "Habs" means to stop or hold. Technically, waqf refers to making a property invulnerable to any disposition that leads to transfer of ownership and donating the benefit of that property to beneficiaries. In this regard, waqf can be described as the confinement of a property (movable or immovable) by a donor(s) and the dedication of its use and benefits in perpetuity for the well-being of society over generations.
As a continuous charitable contribution given away for goodwill, waqf is a binding commitment and once created, must stay permanent. This inherent perpetuity gives waqf the flexibility to accommodate the changing needs of society over time.
Waqf has been, throughout centuries, one of the cornerstones of the Islamic economic system. It provided education, health services, water, travelers' lodges, clinics and hospitals, environmental protection, mosques, schools, universities, and other public utilities.
Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. had in one of the famous hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah r.a. (Riwayat Imam Muslim), "When the son of Adam dies, his actions come to an end except for three; sadaqah jariyah (ongoing charity - waqf), knowledge which brought benefit and a pious child who makes supplication for him."
From the perspective of Islamic society, Waqf is seen as an essential pillar of the religious, social, cultural, scientific, economic and political life of society, which will eventually lead to sustainable development. Waqf is seen as a long-term investment into the overall community with continued benefits. Finally, with successful implementation of waqf, both society empowerment and poverty alleviation will be achieved.