Published On:29 August 2011
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Reviving Islamic endowment in its true spirit

By Faisal Tahir Khan

At times one does not need to re-invent the wheel to solve certain burning issues faced by any nation.

Perhaps, one can solve those issues with tools that already exist in the eco-system. We could adopt organized structured thinking patterns to deal with such matters.

If we analyze Islamic history, particularly from the 10th to 15th centuries, one can witness that the Institution of Islamic Endowment (Waqf) played a crucial role in social progress and prosperity.

This was clearly reflected in educational and health infrastructure, research and development that paved the way for scientific invention and huge libraries. They in turn spawned scholars and thinkers who are considered specialists in many subjects.

It is quite evident from Islamic history that properly managed Waqf can play an important role in the growth and development of Islamic civilization.

There is a need to consolidate global Waqf’s efforts to build state-of-the-art educational and health facilities and research and development institutes in developing countries of the Muslim world to promote new technologies.

It is also essential to develop entrepreneurship as an eco-system to increase job opportunities and alleviate poverty.

This collective effort will also help certain weak economies, which cannot afford to achieve Millennium Development Goals because of budget limitations.

As the true purpose of Islam is to ensure equity, equality and justice, the Muslim world needs a common vision and unity to address the most burning issues so that the financial resources could be utilized in the most effective manner through the medium of Waqf.

From Casablanca to Jakarta, there are billions of dollars of Waqf properties which at times are not managed properly. Hence they lose their value, leading to depletion of revenues.

There is a crucial need for more legal reforms to regulate Waqf and develop cohesion between its legal and economical aspects to support those who are in need.

It is necessary to have modern laws and an effective regulatory system to gain trust and confidence from those who aim to establish Waqf. These structures could be similar to those we currently have for banking, investment or trade sectors. We should develop an effective mechanism to regulate Waqf similar to the ways we manage our personal investments through private equity, venture capital or mutual funds.

In today’s world, we cannot blame governments for all social ills. A meaningful private-public partnership is required to solve our issues in the current dynamic world.

According to the Ernst & Young Islamic Funds and Investment Report 2010, there are nearly around $105 billion worth of assets in Islamic endowment that need more intelligent ways of investing. These investments should be diversified into more sustainable financial products such as sukuk, as usually real estate has taken a larger share of Waqf funds.

There is a need not only to increase the value of Waqf assets but also to increase the revenue base for beneficiaries.

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates recently started a campaign to motivate worldwide billionaires to at least give half of their wealth before they die or in their will to the favorite causes they believe in.

The campaign received an amazing response as they target to raise $600 billion. Now, we can call it reformist and responsible capitalism.

[Faisal Tahir Khan is a Saudi-born entrepreneur and consultant. He can be reached at ftkhan@gmail.com]

(Courtesy: Arab News)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on August 29, 2011. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on August 29, 2011. Filed under . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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