Call to set up authority to manage Waqf assets

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 27 September 2011 | Posted in , , ,

Doha: There is a proposal to set up a governmental authority in Qatar to promote the effective management and investment of Waqf assets, the Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs HE Dr Ghaith bin Mubarak bin Imran Al Kuwari said yesterday.

Opening a regional workshop on “Endowments- Investment and Management” here yesterday the Minister underlined Qatar’ s interest in promoting the endowments at the legislative and institutional levels.

The Ministry has proposed the establishment of a governance authority, which will be in charge of overseeing and boosting the Ministry’s financial departments that are responsible for managing Waqf assets, in addition to preparing financial feasibility studies, said the Minister.

This aim will not be achieved without the implementation of rehabilitation programmes for the employees in collaboration with investment, banking and Sharia experts in the development of Islamic Finance, he added.

The Minister said the workshop was part of the Ministry’s strategic plan that aims at developing research programmes led by a number of scholars, economists and investment experts; identifying new areas of investments and new managing processes as well as carrying out a financial monitoring system according to the principles of governance.

The Minister also pointed to the civilisational and social dimensions of developing the endowment institution, which has always played a pivotal role in the history of Muslims.

He underlined that the scope of endowments was not limited to helping the poor and needy Muslims but extend to areas such as preservation of the environment.

The four-day workshop is organised by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in collaboration with the Kuwaiti General Secretariat of Awqaf and the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), a member of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

The workshop aims to provide professionals with expertise and skills needed to manage and invest endowments as well as training programmes to use modern means of financial management.

Some 45 representatives workings with Waqf institutions in several Arab and GCC countries are attending the workshop, along with Islamic scholars and financial experts.

(Courtesy: The Peninsula, Qatar)

Reviving Islamic endowment in its true spirit

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 29 August 2011 | Posted in

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)

Waqf Fund announces the launch of Diploma in Islamic commercial Jurisprudence for Shari’a Reviewers

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 14 July 2011 | Posted in , , ,

Manama: Waqf Fund, a Bahrain-based special fund to support Islamic finance training, education and research, has announced the launch of Diploma in Islamic Commercial Jurisprudence aimed primarily at those working for Internal Shari’a Review departments of Islamic Financial Institutions. The program, due to commence from October, is being offered with the assistance of BIBF.

Khalid Hamad, Chairman of the Waqf Fund explained about the program; “The Diploma program provides an opportunity to develop the understanding of Islamic commercial jurisprudence in considerable depth. The program, which will be conducted in Arabic, consists of seven modules. Each module is of 50 hours and will take a month to complete. Qualified teachers from within Bahrain and outside are being engaged to deliver the modules. The Waqf Fund will bear the cost of this program for its member institutions.”

The seven modules include: (1) The Theory of Contracts and its Legal Maxims (2) Objectives of Shari’a and Usul Al Fiqh (3) Principles of Fatwa and Applied Jurisprudence (4) Islamic Financial Transactions (5) Fiqh of Zakat and Waqf (6) Fiqh of Takaful (7) Shari’a Auditing and Compliance for IFIs.

Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq, BIBF Head of Centre for Islamic Finance, commented: “Quality education and training in Islamic finance have been somewhat lagging in comparison to the impressive growth of the industry. We have a duty to make available substantive and up-to-date training for those working in the Shari’a departments of IFIs in various capacities. The Centre for Islamic Finance at BIBF has been a pioneering contributor to this industry’s education and training needs and we are pleased to have this opportunity to make a difference. The Waqf Fund and BIBF have an ongoing partnership in serving the Islamic finance industry. We are confident that this new Diploma, reviewed and certified by AAOIFI, will be an important step toward filling the current void.”

Waqf Amendment Bill: Why the community needs to participate

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

By Shafey Danish

Muslims are probably the most talked about community right now. It is the community which is at the centre of different debates in different continents. Europe for example is debating immigration and social integration with its large immigrant Muslim population in mind. In the US debates around the issues of immigration, terrorism, Middle East, and many others focus on Muslims, because, whatever the specific nuances of specific debates, at their heart is the ‘Muslim question’. China, India, Russia, Sri Lanka and of course Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, all have urgent problems which deal basically with this question.

It is a question which wants to know what is to be done with this strange community, which is the second largest in the world, sits on a huge deposit of a commodity without which modern world cannot run, namely oil, and huge amounts of cash without which global banking institutions like the

IMF and World Bank cannot function. It is a community which is in a majority in 47 countries.

Yet it is a community which is hopelessly backward, inward looking, limited in its vision. It is a community which is under suspicion for terrorism, it is a community which has long supported dictators, (though the Arab world may be changing that), a community dependent on the West, backward in education, without quality schools and colleges, with an adequate banking system, without charismatic leadership, without anything comparable to China’s or even Israel’s industrial and technological achievements.

It is also a community which faces widespread, though subtle discrimination, and provides victims from Chechnya to China and from Palestine to India.

So the ‘Muslim question’ asks, how could this be? The two facts are veritably incompatible. With as much resources as this community has it should have something comparable in weight to the Christian West.

And why, asks the supplementary part of this same question, are Muslims themselves not bothered? Indeed the strangest reality of all this is that Muslims are not bothered. In India, they are not bothered by post-Godhra riots, they are not bothered by the Sacchar report, which sketches in grim detail the true depths of this community’s backwardness. (In some metrics Muslims are even behind the SCs and STs, says the report.)

The Sacchar Committee report is a landmark document. Not only did the committee dig up data which cleared the cobwebs of history but also made recommendations on how the situation can be remedied.

One of the suggestions that it made was to use the humongous land holdings of the Waqf board for the betterment of the Muslims. It said that if a cadre of dedicated personnel could be created on the lines of the Indian Administrative Services, the Waqf properties could generate revenues to the tune of Rs 12,000 crore annually, which constitutes 10% of the total market value of the Waqf properties, which stand at 1.2 lakh crore. (currently waqf properties generate 163 only.)

The amount is huge. If this could really become a reality, then programs designed for Muslims would never be short of funds.

Expectedly, Muslim organizations have been pressing the government to implement this particular recommendations. The matter has gained urgency in the light of the persistent corruption in the running of Waqf properties. It seems not a day goes by when a new story of blatant appropriation of Waqf property does not come to light. The latest is the case in which a Congress MLA rented out prime properties in Lutyens Delhi next to nothing. The Indraprastha Park is also built on Waqf Property without even a formal acquisition of the property by the government.

It is quite apparent that those who run the Waqf board have been blatantly misusing its properties, selling and renting it out, for personal benefits.

Were a dedicated cadre to be created, it is hoped, it would put a stop to such flagrant misuse. It would start to benefit the community it was supposed to benefit.

Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed, is pushing for the Waqf amendment bill which does not incorporate key suggestions of the Sachar committee recommendation. For example, the bill would not create a dedicated cadre, nor does it provide for enough powers for the waqf boards to evict encroachers, as authorities who administer religious endowments can do under Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959.

Prominent critics of the bill, like Zafar Mehmood of Zakat Foundation of India, say that the bill in its present form is too weak. Since the executives who administer the properties today are not qualified enough, they do not have enough traction with the government. For example the Waqf board head for Puduchery is just a matriculate, while that was Andaman and Nicobar is only holds a higher secondary degree.

The Sachar Committee had noted “up to 200 Group A officers are needed to service the wakf affairs across India. ..The government may, therefore, consider creating a new cadre of officers to be recruited by the UPSC so that they can deal with the specific affairs of the wakfs efficiently.”

Zafar Mahmood, who was also officer on special duty with the Sachar Committee, filed an RTI regarding the matter.

“We found that a deputy secretary with the ministry had struck down the recommendation for an Indian Wakf Service in three sentences,” he said.

Apparently the proposal had not been discussed at higher levels at all, with a cabinet note briefly saying, “This is not recommended.”

Salman Khursheed on his part has said that the “The recommendations of Sachar Committee Report are not divine like (the) Quran; they can be wrong also and that’s why one must approach them critically.”

It is clear that amount of money available for Muslim welfare schemes would be a crucial factor in the betterment of the community. It is therefore crucial that everything is done to provide the bill with enough teeth to actually turn matters around. It would be helpful if there was a more widespread discussion on this issue. But sadly it seems that the community is still to wake from its dogmatic slumber.

(Courtesy: Times Wire Service)

Muslim bodies demand Salman Khurshid must quit Govt. & Congress Party

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 28 June 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: A number of Muslims representing social and political organizations have demanded the resignation of Union Minister for Minorities Affairs Salman Khurshid from the UPA Government and the Congress Party for his reported statement committing blasphemy against the Holy Qur’an and rejecting the recommendations of the Joint Parliamentary Committee, (JPC), on Wakfs and the Sachar Committee.

A joint statement issued by prominent Muslim intellectuals said that Salman Khurshid must quit the Government due to the non-inclusion of vital recommendations of the JPC and the Prime Minister's High Level Committee on Muslims (Sachar Committee) in Waqf Amendment Bill 2010 drafted by his ministry.

The statement pointed out that Mr. Khurshid has reportedly said in Chennai that Sachar Committee Report is not Holy Qur’an. This is blasphemy, (Behurmati).

Earlier, in a letter to Zakat Foundation of India, Mr. Khurshid said that the JPC on Wakfs and the Sachar Committee cannot claim monopoly to wisdom (though he did not mention that he is weighing their wisdom against whose).

The statement wondered: “Does this mean that the Congress and the UPA have been making fool of the Muslims for five years in the garb of Sachar Committee Report?” Also, by saying this Salman Khurshid has opposed the Prime Minister and the Union Cabinet which approved the Sachar Committee Report in 2007 and made the Ministry of Minority Affairs as the nodal ministry to monitor its implementation, the statement pointed out.

The statement stated that Salman Khurshid has also over-ruled the pivotal recommendations of the JPC on Waqfs without giving any reasons thereof while presenting the Waqf Bill in Parliament. Thus, he has violated the privileges of both the Houses of Parliament by showing down the JPC on Waqfs and hiding his non-compliance of JPC. He has gone against the Congress and UPA policy regarding Muslim interests and against the collective responsibility of the Central Government which is the cornerstone of our sacred Constitution.

Thus, Salman Khurshid must resign from the Government and the Congress, Muslims demanded. Also, the Government, the Congress and the UPA should clarify their position vis-a-vis Mr. Khurshid's statement committing blasphemy against the Holy Qur’an and rejecting the recommendations of the JPC on Waqfs and the Sachar Committee (most of which overlap).

The signatories to the statement included: Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood, President, Zakat Foundation of India, New Delhi; Dr. Zafrul Islam Khan, President, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, New Delhi; Mujtaba Farooq, General Secretary, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, New Delhi; Maulana Mohammad Mukarram, Shahi Imam, Masjid Fatehpuri, Delhi; Mufti Fuzailur Rahman Hilal Usmani, Mufti-e-Azam, Punjab & Shaikhul Jamia, Darussalam, Maler Kotla, Punjab; Ghayasuddin Babukhan, Chairman, Hyderabad Zakat & Charitable Trust, Hyderabad; Dr. Azimuddin, Coordinator, Federation of Minorities NGOs of Maharashtra, Mumbai; Haroon Mozawala and Ashfaq Vaid, Khair-e-Ummat Trust, Mumbai; Aftabuddin Sarkar, President, Federation of Muslim Associations of West Bengal, Kolkata; Anwar Premi, General Secretary, Sir Syed Educational Group, Kolkata; Major K. Ibrahim, President, All-Kerala Council of College Principals, Mallapuram, Kerala; Dr. Iqtedar Farooqi, Secretary, Urdu Scientific Society, Lucknow; Adv. Sajid Siddiqui, President of Social Democratic Party of India, (SDPI), Madhya Pradesh unit, Bhopal; and Adv. Haji Haroon, President Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, Madhya Pradesh unit (Madani Group), Bhopal.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

Imams & Khateebs urged to explain Waqf Bill problems during Friday ‘Khutba’: Zafar Mahmood

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 08 June 2011 | Posted in , , ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Zakat Foundation of India (ZFI) President, Dr. Syed Zafar Mahmood has expressed grave concern over the fact that 20 vital recommendations of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Waqfs and Sachar Committee have not been included by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs in the Waqf Bill, 2010.

Dr. Mahmood has urged Imams and “Khateebs” to talk about these vital issues in detail during their Friday sermons so as to make the Muslim Ummah well aware of the infringement of their rights and how the government is trying to hoodwink them.

In a Press statement he pointed out that in the Lok Sabha, the Minister of Minority Affairs did not mention these blatant omissions. There was no debate on these issues. On the other hand, the Ministry has unilaterally included some provisions in the Waqf Bill which are injurious to Waqfs and their utilization for needy Muslims.

Dr. Mahmood said that all this has been documented in English and Urdu by the Zakat Foundation of India and uploaded on its website www.zakatindia.org. There are also ZFI's 'power point' and video presentations on the website, he added.

He has appealed to the people of India, the well wishers of Auqaf and specially the Imams & “Khateebs” to kindly take printouts from www.zakatindia.org and carefully read as to how there is a move to take Auqaf from Muslim control and utilization. The Imam and “Khateeb” sahebaan have been particularly requested to talk about these vital issues in detail during their Friday sermons. The entire Ummah has to be galvanised to retain the ownership of Auqaaf. There are people in the Parliament, the Government and different political parties who sympathise with this important Muslim cause. But, we have to explain to them the nuances of the problems related with the Waqf Bill, 2010, the statement stated.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

Muslim NGOs demand review of Waqf Bill

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 07 June 2011 | Posted in , ,

By Mohammed Wajihuddin

Mumbai: Several NGOs and Muslim organizations have demanded a review of the Waqf (Amendment) Bill, 2010 and threatened a nation-wide agitation. The Lok Sabha unanimously passed the Bill on May 7, 2010 and it is currently before the select committee of the Rajya Sabha before the upper house passes it soon and it becomes an Act. The bill aims to prevent corruption in Waqf boards and protect Waqf properties.

The Zakat Foundation of India, one of the leading NGOs campaigning against the proposed Bill, has compiled a booklet which concludes that "vital recommendations of the Sachar Committee and the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on Waqfs have either not been included in the Bill or partially incorporated." The Sachar Committee (PM's high level committee to report on social, educational, economic and educational status of Muslims) submitted its report to the PM on November 17, 2006 while JPC on Waqfs, appointed in 2006, submitted its report in February 2008.

Muslim NGOs allege that the Bill, by ignoring these recommendations, has kept the doors open for land mafia to grab Waqf properties. "If the Bill's loopholes are not plugged, it will prove disastrous for the Muslim community who will not be able to protect the Waqf properties," says Zafar Mahmood, president, Zakat Foundation of India.

The JPC said that surveys of all the Waqf properties be made compulsory, but the Bill has made it optional. The Sachar Commmittee recommended that the secretary of the Central Waqf Council (CWC) be of the level of joint secretary to the government for effective communication and interaction with the authorities. The Sachar committee had also recommended that since there were not many senior Muslim officers to be appointed the CEOs of Waqf boards in different states, a new cadre called the Indian Waqf Service be created. But a deputy secretary in the Union Minority Affairs ministry vetoed it, ignoring the suggestions of the Sachar committee. An RTI query showed that the Maharashtra government, between 2001 and 2010, sold 130 Waqf properties worth crores, including an orphanage where a leading businessman has now built a mansion.

"The Bill, if not reviewed, will encourage the land sharks. We will be forced to come on the streets if the vital recommendations of JPC and Sachar are not included in the Bill," says Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind leader Mahmood Madni.

Activists allege that the Waqf (Amendment) Bill has kept the doors open for land mafia to grab Waqf properties.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

Worries stalk Waqf Amendment Bill

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 10 May 2011 | Posted in , ,

By Rana Siddiqui Zaman

New Delhi: The Waqf Boards in India have approximately six lakh acres of land. The income from Waqf land, which is a religious endowment, is used for the welfare of the Muslim community. Yet much of this has been encroached upon, especially in Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

The proposed Waqf (Amendment) Bill 2010 has kindled fears in the community that it might lose control even of what is left of the land. The reason for this is a provision in the Bill under which the succession of the mutawalli (the person responsible for a specified Waqf property) has to be clearly laid out and established in order for the community to access the income.

The fact that the word “community” has been left undefined is another big worry. Zafar Mehmood, president of the Zakat Foundation, says the Bill must unambiguously define “community” as the Muslim community to avoid unnecessary misinterpretation. “What is to stop the poor from other communities from claiming the income?”

The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha six months ago and has been placed before the Rajya Sabha with objections from sections of the Muslim community. It also appears to have overlooked important recommendations of the Sachar Committee as well as the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the functioning of Waqf Boards.

As per the existing Waqf Act of 1995, the CEOs of State Waqf Boards have to be Muslim. However, due to the fact that not many Muslims reach the higher bureaucracy, the positions have tended to be filled by junior government employees, inexperienced public men, and sometimes even government officials holding additional charge of the Waqf Board.

The Sachar Committee, which collected this information in 2006, recommended the creation of an Indian Waqf Service so that a new cadre of officers, conversant with Urdu and Islam, could become available to oversee the Waqf Boards. Mr. Mehmood says the proposal is “well-considered and fully fits into the Constitutional scheme.”

Aware of the pitfalls of employing junior officers as CEOs, the JPC too recommended that at the minimum, a CEO should be of the rank of Director in the State government. The new Waqf Bill proposes an Under Secretary in the State government for the same.

‘Diluted definition'

The other criticism against the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MMA) is that it has diluted the definition of the word “encroacher.” The Sachar Committee defined an “encroacher” to mean, among other things, a person “who has altered the property leased out to or occupied by him without the prior written permission of the Waqf Board concerned.” This definition finds no place in the Bill.

The Bill in its current form has so upset the Zakat Foundation that it has demanded the intervention of the Prime Minister and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi to sort out the mess. Mr. Mehmood says he wants the MMA to be prevailed upon to amend the proposed provisions before the Bill is taken up for passage in the Rajya Sabha.

Minister for Minority Affairs Salman Khursheed, however, has denied the charges vis-à-vis the Bill.

“Records will show that several important Muslim Members of Parliament contributed to the debate and the Bill was passed unanimously in the Lok Sabha. The Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha that has several leading Muslim MPs, including a Member of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, will give its report shortly,” he said.

(Courtesy: The Hindu)

Caretaker encroaches on Wakf ground

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 02 May 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

By Mohammed Anas

New Delhi: Panj Peeran graveyard in New Delhi's Hazrat Nizamuddin area has been encroached on by its undertaker. This 40-acre land is the second largest graveyard in Delhi after Feroze Shah Kotla and is a Delhi Wakf Board property. It is located in the vicinity of Nehru Stadium and Oberoi Hotel and is estimated to be worth thousands of crores.

Ghulam Mohammed, the undertaker, has turned the graveyard into a professional burial ground. He told this newspaper that he charges Rs 1,000 to Rs 20,000 for digging graves. He also earns from the offerings made by relatives of the deceased when they visit the graveyard. "Sometimes, people even visit the graves of people like Captain Haneef Uddin, who was killed in Kargil War and was awarded the Vir Chakra, and of Atif and Sajid, who were killed in the Batla House encounter, and hand me over something for my services," said Mohammed.

Wakf officials say that it's the earning from the graveyard that made Mohammed to encroach on the ground. "The graveyard is a high-income business for him and that's why he has installed his camp inside the graveyard. In addition to digging graves, he is working as a self-styled peer by declaring some of the graves as resting places of some Baba Syed Noor and Baba Panj Peer. Believers of these peers keep providing him with regular income," said Mohammed Qaiser, the legal officer of the board.

But when asked why the board was not evicting him from its property, Qaiser said, "He has filed a case against the board challenging his eviction in the Delhi High Court and against the Wakf Tribunal at Patiala House court. The matter is sub judice."

A former Delhi Wakf Board member, Rana Parveen Siddiqui, a Supreme Court lawyer, said that there were similar instances of en croachment on Wakf property about which the board was not doing anything. "There is huge mismanagement in the board. Records of many properties are missing. Board officials shirk visiting their own sites. They do not properly follow the disputes in court. Worse, sometimes they collude with miscreants to usurp Wakf land," alleged Siddiqui.

(Courtesy: The Sunday Guardian)

National Seminar on ‘Management of Waqf Board Properties’ underway in Bhopal

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 15 March 2011 | Posted in , , ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: A two-day national seminar on 'Management of Waqf Board properties' was inaugurated by Madhya Pradesh Waqf Board Chairman Ghufran Azam here at R.C.V.P Naronha Academy of Administration on Monday (March 14, 2011).

Speaking on the occasion, Waqf Board Chairman Ghufran Azam said that the Waqf is not related to religion of Muslims but it is a social work. He lauded the efforts for holding a seminar on management of Waqf Board properties. He said that awareness could be created among the common people of properties of Waqf through the seminar.

At the outset, the Coordinator Dr. Mohammed Najmi threw light on the objectives of holding the seminar. He said that the social, economic and educational targets could be achieved through such seminars to make people aware of the importance of Waqf properties. Besides, Madhya Pradesh, Waqf Board officials from Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Punjab and Uttarakhand are taking part in the seminar being organised.

On behalf of Madhya Pradesh, former DGP Mr. R. K. Agnihotri, Mr. Omar Farooq Khatani, Legal Service Secretary Mr. A. J. Khan, Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, Mr. Chudawat and Mr. J. P. Rao are participating in the seminar.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

Tipu Sultan monument to receive conservation grant

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 12 March 2011 | Posted in ,

BANGALORE: Members of the Tipu Sultan United Front, who were demonstrating in front of Town Hall here demanding the State Government to protect Tipu Sultan monuments and name the airport at Devanahalli after him, withdrew their protest on Thursday.

A release from the front said that the Minister for Minorities Welfare Mumtaz Ali Khan, who received its memorandum, pointed out the Government initiative of allocating Rs. 50 lakh to conserve Tipu's monuments.

Rajnath Singh Assures Support to Minority Community on Awqaf Bill

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 22 February 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

Mumbai: ‘Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) will not provide any support to Malegaon blast culprits since it does not want to scare the Muslims, instead it desires to win their confidence, said BJP former national president and MP Rajnath Singh.

Rajnath was speaking at a seminar on minority issues held at Hotel Leela Kempinski, here on Sunday February 20.  The seminar was organized under the aegis of Etv Urdu and Hindi channels. 

Rajnath also assured that if a Bill on Awqaf properties will ever be presented in the Parliament, his party will give its complete support.

The Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan inaugurated the programme. The union minister for minority affairs Salman Khursheed was the chief guest on the occasion.

Many eminent personalities from politics and literature across the country including Samajwadi Party president and MLA Abu Asim Azmi, BJP MLA Pasha, Pune-based Azam Campus director P A Inamdar, Bhayyuji Maharaj, Maharshtra Minority Commission’s chairman Naseem Siddiq, movie director Akbar Khan, actress turned politician Naghma, MP Maulana Mahmood Madani, MP Parvez Hashmi, Shahnawaz Hussain, Maharastra minority affairs minister Arif Nasim Khan and NCP leader Nawab Malik among others were present for the event.

Rajnath Singh further added that his party came into power only for 6 years in the 63 years of independent India. It is the party in power, which had to first address the issues of the minority as BJP cannot be blamed if the minorities are backward today. He said that there is a need to uplift the intellectualism in Muslim community, by focusing on education and employment sectors. He also added that CBI is investigating cases of Malegaon, Hyderabad, Ajmer blasts and waiting for the results by trusting in the judiciary.

Rajnath denied that he or L K Advani ever went to see Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in prison.

CM Prithviraj Chavan assured that the government will definitely take the action against the culprits of Malegaon blast. He assured that the justice will be delivered to every individual of the state, an innocent will not pay for someone else’s crime and a criminal will not be let free to create massacre.

He also said that for the development of minorities, a better financial scheme is a must. The government will definitely put this issue in front of the union government. The government also intends to establish Haj Houses at Nagpur and Aurangabad, he added.

Muslim Community is fighting and demanding for the Awqaf properties’ since a long time, but either the Awqaf plots are under some goons or with the big business houses, but there is a sigh of relief for the community that both the national parties, Congress and BJP assured that the Awqaf property belongs to the Muslim community and should be given back to them. Whereas union minority affairs minister Salman Khursheed assured that his government is taking appropriate steps towards the development of Awqaf property.

Samajwadi Party MLA from Mumbai Abu Asim Azmi said that the Muslims in  Maharashtra are politically in a mess. They don’t know whom to approach or support as at one side they have Congress and NCP government and at another side Shiv Sena and BJP. Muslims are scared of saffron policy of BJP and Shiv Sena and hence their vote goes to the Cong-NCP camp.

Azmi also said that Muslims should avoid giving negative vote. Azmi demanded that government should uplift the ban from SIMI and should release all the innocent boys detained for 2006 Malegaon blast. The union and state government should apologize to innocent boys and their families for ruining their lives. The government should also compensate them. The government should also arrange employment for them as they have been jailed for years and have lost their careers.

Azmi further added that the government should take stern action against the officials, who implicated innocent boys and deliberately tried to misdirect the investigations.

Noted Sant Bhayyuji Maharaj asked the people to come forward for brotherhood and national interest. He also said that the need of the hour is to educate our current and future generations.

Film maker and director Akbar Khan said that Muslims at first should stop calling themselves as minority, then a situation will not arise that will defame Indian Muslim community.  He also said that there is a need to form a Muslim Economic forum. Where as Dr Manzoor Alam from Delhi, said that the country is being run by the poorest of the nation. He asked the government why it is not implementing on Sachchar and Mishra Committee’s reports. He also said that the Muslim community needs to come together on the issues of development.

MP Sayyed Shahnawaz Hussain BJP from Bhagalpur said that whatever has happened in the past at the time of partition was not influenced by his party. He said that the party is concentrating on current generation and its prevailing issues.

He further added that if the government brings a resolution based on Sachchar Committee report for the development of the minorities in the parliament, his party will fully support it.

Manikrao Thackrey, chief Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee said that the country can not develop without the development of minorities, hence the need to concentrate on minority development on priority basis. 

Many other dignitaries addressed the elite political and literary gathering, which was telecasted to more than 20 crore audiences of ETV Network.

The event also proved an efficient platform for the different political parties to come on the same platform and share their views on minority issues.  The event was live telecasted on ETV Urdu and Hindi channels.

(Courtesy: Daijiworld Media Network)

Is Ambani House on Wakf Land?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 11 February 2011 | Posted in , ,

Central Vigilance Commission to probe the Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani’s skyscraper home, Antilla, alleged to have been built on an illegally obtained Wakf land.

Mr. A. U. Pathan, a Pune-based member of the Maharashtra Wakf Board, has filed a complaint recently that the skyscraper, touted as the world’s most expensive private residence, has been built on land meant for an orphanage. The Union Minority Affairs Ministry has referred the matter to the Central Vigilance Commission.

Allegations that the Altamount Road plot belonged to the Wakf was first made in 2007. After the issue was raised in the state cabinet, then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, appointed former district judge A. K. Shaikh as a one-man inquiry commission to investigate the matter. The commission is still to submit its report.

“The inquiry is still on. This property is not the only complaint that the commission is inquiring into,” Maharashtra’s minister for minority affairs Naseem Khan said. “There were complaints from other parts of the state too, especially Marathwada.”

The plot which was acquired from Wakf Board by Ambani to built his residence named ‘Antilla’ is claimed to be really owned by Currimbhoy Orphanage Trust.

The 550-feet high building has a 400,000 sq. feet of interior space. The living quarters of the Antilla are accessible by nine elevators. Parking lots occupy six stories. It is said to be largest and costliest home for a family and may carry a price tag of $ two billion. (Courtesy: The Hindu)

Panchkula's Muslim burial ground plan stuck

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 05 February 2011 | Posted in ,

By Pankaj Dhiman (TNN)PANCHKULA: Despite Haryana Urban Development Authority allotting five bighas in Sector 28 for Panchkula's first graveyard in December, members of Muslim community are still waiting to get its possession.

The reason for delay in this case has been that some part of the said plot is disputed as Punjab claims it is its land.

Muslim community has been demanding the graveyard for the past five to six years as the closest burial ground is in Chandigarh.

Members of Muslim Welfare Society said the much awaited graveyard would be a big relief to the community in Panchkula and its nearby areas like Barwala, Kot bila, Morni and Kalka, because the site was close.

''They were supposed to give the possession of land but it was found later that the plot is less than five bighas as some of the intended land is apparently in Punjab. The burials in Chandigarh led to tension there as the people demanded we should get our own ground in Panchkula,'' said vice-president of the society, Hazoor Hasan.

''The matter of the dispute came to light just 4-5 days ago. We are still trying to solve the problem so that land can be utilized. We will check the actual position at the site, only then can we take further steps,'' said HUDA estate officer Ashwani Sharma.

New inputs on the issue of demolition of a New Delhi mosque

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 13 January 2011 | Posted in , ,

Pursuant to our story on the demolition an old mosque in New Delhi, built on a waqf land, captioned “Masjid demolished in New Delhi, assured to be rebuilt”, we have some inputs from Zakat Foundation of India which has gathered definite information through RTI regarding the legal action of the government body. Apparent from these documents is the fact how the local government has discriminated between the cases of Noor Masjid and Valmiki Mandir situated in the same neighborhood and that the DDA’s claim on a legal prohibited land being a waqf land is untenable. (IMO)

"Noor Masjid, Jangpura, New Delhi

(situated on Muslim graveyard land measuring 6 bigha 13 biswa owned by Delhi Wakf Board)
Khasra no 633, Village Aliganj, Jangpura, New Delhi

A: 1.9.1975

Delhi Government Gazette shows ownership of the land by Delhi Wakf Board

B: 9.7.2008

Delhi High Court order WP No. 9358 of 2006.

It is stated by the Counsel for the respondents that any further grievances that the Petitioner may have, including those made in the present application, will be promptly looked into and appropriate action will be taken thereon. In view of this statement, this Court does not consider it necessary to continue to monitor the progress of the implementation of its directions.

C: 28.10.2009

Delhi Government Home Dept’s letter to the DDA.

The Religious Committee in its meeting held on 1.6.2009 considered the matter and has recommended the removal of the Masjid. As regards the Balmiki Mandir it has been recommended that the DDA should consider the request for re-allotment of land. The Hon’ble Lt Governor has approved the above recommendation of the Religious Committee. I would therefore request you to take appropriate action in the matter accordingly in the matter and send an action taken report to the Home Department.

D: 30.4.2010

Lt. Governor’s Secretariat’s letter addressed to Commissioner (LLM), DDA asking him to remove the encroachment / illegal structure in the form of Masjid from Jangpura in view of the Religious Committee’s clearance.

E: 26.8.2010

Delhi Wakf Board’s letter to the DDA that the Masjid is built for several decades on wakf land and should not be demolished. Documentary references were given. (copy attached)

F: 19.11.2010

Zakat Foundation of India applied under RTI Act to the Lt Governor seeking the following information:• Detailed composition of the Religious Committee.

• Agenda of the Religious Committee meeting held on 16 June 2009.

• Names & addresses of the Religious Committee’s meeting present in the meeting on 16.6.2009.

• Minutes og the meeting of Religious Committee held on 16.6.2009.

• Approval document issued by the Lt Governor in respect of the Religious Committee minutes.

G: 25.11.2010

Lt Governor’s Secretariat letter addressed to Commissioner-cum-Secretary, DDA asking him to respond to Zakat Foundation of India’s RTI queries.

H: 1.12.2010

Sr.R.O. (RTI), DDA forwarded ZFI’s application seeking information about Jangpura Masjid to Sri GC Suman, Dy, Director (NL-I), DDA, A-303, 3rd Floor, Vikas Sadan, INA, New Delhi-23 phone 24626005

No reply was received by ZFI till the Masjid was demolished by DDA on 12 January 2011.

A-H referred hereinabove are the date-wise docuemtns compiled by the sender.

Further details may be found on www.zakatindia.org and www.wakfwatch.org

Indian Muslim News - WAKF

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 16 January 2010 | Posted in

Central Wakf Council opposes Punjab Law Commission report on wakf

The Central Wakf Council took strong objection to the Punjab Law Commission recommendation for a review of the status of registered wakf properties, saying that this was totally unacceptable under a view held by the Supreme Court.

"The Supreme Court has already said that once a wakf property, always a wakf property," Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told reporters, while briefing them about the decisions taken at the Central Wakf Council (CWC) meeting here.

Mr Khurshid said the CWC had decided to convey to the Punjab Law Commission its strong opposition to its suggestion.

Besides, it would also request the Home Ministry to convey the suggestions of the CWC to the Commission.

Under the law, status of a property registered as that of the wakf could not be changed, it could only be challenged in a court, he sought to point out.

The Minister said the Law Ministry had returned the final draft of the amended Wakf Act which had been sent to it for whetting, and it would soon be taken to the Cabinet and come up in the next session of Parliament.

Replying to a question, he said he could not give much details about the proposed legislation before it came to the Cabinet, but could only say that it was aimed at strengthening the Wakf Administration.

One of the important decisions taken at CWC meeting was that all wakf records would be computerised to remove the problem of their availability and their retrieval.

Besides, a decision was taken to launch a massive campaign for informing the public about the ongoing survey of wakf properties.

A scheme for training in wakf management would be started at the Bhopal Institute of Management.

He also announced that the Human Resource Development Ministry had given in principle approval to the proposal of the CWC to set up three universities -- in Ajmer, Kishanganj and Mysore -- on land endowed by the community.

These universities would be Central universities and would not come in the category of minority institutions though aimed at promotion of the educational interest of minorities, Mr Khurshid said in reply to a question.

Details of the model were being worked out, he added.
(Courtesy: IndLawNews.com)

Indian Muslim News - EDUCATION

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 14 January 2010 | Posted in ,

Plan to set up 3 central varsities on wakf land

The government is working on a proposal to set up three central universities in the public private partnership mode specifically for educationally backward Muslims. The ministry of minority affairs, which is spearheading the proposal, has suggested that these universities be developed on wakf land. The plan has the in principle approval of the ministry of human resource development and ministry of finance, and is being currently vetted by the law ministry.

These universities will be modeled on the BR Ambedkar University and the Indira Gandhi Tribal university.

Both are central universities which seek to primarily serve educationally and socially groups. “The proposed universities are somewhat different in that the beneficiary group is contributing to the effort,” minister of state for minority affairs Salman Khurshid said.

This will be another model of setting up universities — public private partnership. The wakf board will donate the land on which these universities will be set up,” the minister said.

By opting to set up these universities on wakf land, the government hopes to pre-empt controversy over their minority status, thereby avoiding a legal controversy like the one Aligarh Muslim University has been embroiled in. The minority status of the AMU is a matter that is still being considered by the Supreme Court.

The university was stripped of its minority status first in 1968, then restored by Indira Gandhi in 1981. In 2006, the Allahabad High Court once again stripped the university of its minority status. It is argued that the AMU was set up by an act of legislature and not by a minority community. With the wakf board offering its land for the university, they become partners.

This would allow for classification as an institute set up for the promotion of educational interests of the weaker sections, as outlined in Article 46 of the Constitution. This would also allow the universities to set aside 50% of its seats for Muslims. The universities will be set up in Ajmer (Rajasthan), Kishanganj (Bihar) and Mysore (Karnataka).

The university in Karnataka will be called Tipu Sultan University of Science and Technology; the one in Kishanganj will be called Rafi Ahmed Kidwai University of Health Science; and the one in Ajmer will be named Khwaja Gharib Nawaz University.

The proposed universities would be “a right mix” of modernity and tradition. The decision to set up the minority universities followed several representations from religious leaders.
(Courtesy: The Economic Times)

Indian Muslim News - Wakf

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 09 October 2009 | Posted in

Draft Bill for amending Wakf Act, 1999 being given final shape

The Central government is in the process of finalising a bill to ensure that the Wakf boards across India will function in a streamlined fashion. “The ministry of law has given its final shape to the draft bill for amending the Wakf Act, 1999. We will introduce it in the next session of parliament,” said Union Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid after a Central Wakf Council meeting held in New Delhi recently to discuss issues related to minority welfare. The proposed bill is being introduced on the recommendations of a joint parliamentary committee and adheres to the Sachar Committee policies.

According to Khurshid, the Central Wakf Council will be empowered to function independently. Central Wakf Council acts as the intermediary body between state Wakf boards and central government. Currently, there are 27 Wakf boards in the country, functioning under different state governments. Haryana and Punjab have a joint Wakf board.

Since financial condition of many Wakf boards is not very promising, we have also stepped in to give small aid and grants from the central government. But for this the boards will have to accept certain conditions regarding their management,” Khurshid said.

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