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Wikipedia: “is, under the context of 'sadaqah', an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically donating a building or plot of land or even cash for Muslim religious or charitable purposes with no intention of reclaiming the assets.” The article also includes a comparison between waqf law and English trust law, including a speculation that the latter was influenced by the former.


  • Hoexter, Miriam. “Waqf Studies in the Twentieth Century: The State of the Art.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 41, no. 4 (1998).
    • “it long served as a major instrument for delivering public goods in a decentralized manner” - but, the inevitable erosion of donor intent has led to a decline in legitimacy of the system, leading to widespread gov't confiscation in modern period. (841/abstract)
    • known also as “Islamic trust” or “pious foundation” (842)
    • “Originally the assets had to be immovable, although in some places this requirement was eventually relaxed to legitimize what came to be known as a “cash waqf.” (842)
    • A waqf's activities need not be religious or solely benefit Muslims; only the law protecting them is sacred.
    • The example of lighthouses - a public good that waqfs provided
    • Argues that the waqf was a means for property-holders to achieve economic security and shield assets from revenue-seeking rulers (843). Also that the waqf may have led to underdevelopment of Islamic world because the lack of flexibility given to managers. There was no “indigenous” ransformation of the waqf to modern corporate status.
    • Since flexibility required bending the rules, argues that the waqf structure fostered a culture of corruption (844)