Jumuah lecture delivered by Maulana Syed Aftab Haider on the 10th of February 2017 at the Ahlulbait Islamic Centre , Ottery, Cape Town.
After beseeching Allah (swt) to send his exclusive blessings upon Nabi Muhammad (SAW) and his infallible Ahlulbait (as), I would like to continue my discussion based on verse 46 of Surah Kahf:
الْمَالُ وَالْبَنُونَ زِينَةُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَالْبَاقِيَاتُ الصَّالِحَاتُ خَيْرٌ عِندَ رَبّـِكَ ثَواباً وَخَيْرٌ أَمَلاً
“Wealth and children are an ornament of the life of the world and the everlasting good works are better with you your Lord in reward and better in expectation”
To briefly summarise what we analysed last week, we said that wealth and children are important aspects in leading a comfortable and prosperous life. However, these enjoyments are limited to this world and hence the Quran draws our attention to the Everlasting good deeds since these special actions can be depended upon for eternal bliss in the hereafter.
We also mentioned that the everlasting good deeds generally are deeds performed with a pure intention, but the true exemplification of an everlasting good deed is found in three actions as according to the hadith of Rasullulah (SAW) when he says: “The deed of the children of Adam (as) comes to an end, except in three actions:
Training a virtuous child, a continuous charity, and a legacy of knowledge.” Other narrations indicate that even leaving a positive legacy is considered as an everlasting good deed.
One of the most common forms of the everlasting good deed is that of Waqf. “Waqf” from a lexical perspective in Arabic has three meanings, one of them being meaning “to stop.” Another meaning is “to imprison”, while an alternative understanding means “to freeze.”
In the sharia’, waqf is used when an asset is frozen in order for a specific benefit to be taken advantage of. The asset being “frozen” in this instance means that it cannot be sold. The purpose of the asset has a very specific benefit that it needs to provide, and therefore it cannot be used for any other motive.
In a local understanding, waqf is usually associated with any sadaqah or charity. But waqf from a shar’i point of view means when an individual makes an intention that the advantages received from such an asset will solely be dedicated to a hospital, school, masjid, etc.
Waqf in the history of Islam is recognised as one of the Sunnatul Hasanah – a pure institution that the Prophet (SAW) established throughout his life. Whenever the Prophet (SAW) received waqf, it never involved the transfer of that asset through economical means. That asset remained frozen in order for the correct beneficiaries to take advantage of what was their right.
One of the truly astounding facts of history is that whenever Nabi Muhammad (SAW) received a waqf, he had always organised a written agreement in which Imam Ali (as) was often the scribe. The Prophet (SAW) was persistent in this practice in order for the rights of the people to be protected under all circumstances.
Imam Ali (as) himself was known for digging various wells which he would declare as waqf for the people. The most famous example of this is that of Masjidul Shajarah, a miqaat where Imam Ali (as) had dug wells for the benefit of the hujjaj travelling from Madina to Makkah.
Similarly all Imams (as) of the Ahlulbait (as) continued this practice of Rasulullah (SAW), however one interesting example of this is found in the life of Imam Muhammad Baqir (as). It is said that he made a waqf for a certain property with the intention that whatever economic benefit is received from this land, it must be used in Mina in order to inform the Hujjaaj of the sufferings of the family of the Prophet (SAW).
WAQF IN ITS MODERN USAGE
Due to the emphasis of waqf in the Islamic tradition, we see that all across the world this institution continues to flourish. To cite one such example is that of Imam Redha (as), who is buried in Mashaad, Iran. Individuals all over Iran and outside of Iran have left waqf in the name of Imam Redha (as) to the extent that it is uncommon to find even a small town in which Imam Redha (as) does not own at least a single property.
Waqf for the sake of Imam Redha (as) has become so widely practiced that he is seen as the richest man in Iran!
These awqaf not only cater to the needs of the visitors of the shrine of Imam Redha (as) and the shrine’s expenses itself, but it has also been used to establish universities, factories and generally to improve the standard of living in Iran.
What is important to note is that these individuals that have left waqf may have passed away many years ago, however their contribution to Imam Redha (as) continues to benefit society on a daily basis. This is a true meaning of the “Everlasting Good Deed.”
Even in the western world, the practice of waqf has been established in what has been called a “trust.” This goes to show that the benefits of waqf is universally accepted and is not limited to the borders of Islam or religion in general.
WAQF ON A COMMUNAL LEVEL
Waqf is not something that can only be practiced by a rich class of individuals. Sometimes we tend to think that waqf is only applicable to a special group of individuals, while in reality it can and should be practiced by everyone at their own capacity.
Our criteria should not simply be monetary availability, rather it should be the mentality of willing to spend for the community to benefit in the future.
Another serious issue is that of Da’awah of Islam through the school of the Ahlulbait (as). Africa at this moment in time provides the most fertile ground for growth for Islam, and the proof for this is that we never witness the strong growth of Islamophobic movements in Africa. Unlike Europe and America where there are strong anti-Islamic approaches, Africa mostly still views Islam in a positive light.
Even in our community, we lack the encouragement to sustainably manage our da’awah programmes in the townships. Often when we see individuals who come from a unislamic background, we automatically find faults in their behaviour and etiquette. What we fail to realise is that these very individuals come from an environment in which every haram is easily accessible, yet they still make the effort to remain a committed Muslim. If many of us were to be placed in that same situation, who knows how sincere we would be to this faith.
The biggest challenge that we face is providing these dedicated individuals with adequate resources enabling them to practice their faith comfortably. If these facilities are not available, then we cannot expect beneficial results. Therefore it is of vital importance that we provide these basic necessities through the system of Waqf in order for the growth of Islam to be more than a statistic but rather a continuous movement that is sustained.
CONCEPT OF ONE THIRD (THULUTH) ENDOWMENT
In Islam, the Shariah regulates how a Muslim is supposed to distribute two thirds of their estate at the time of death. This is essentially pre-determined and one does not have any discretion in this regard.
However, the Shariah DOES provide individual discretion in determining how one third of your estate is distributed.
So, although we must provide our children and next of kin with their two thirds share, we should make a culture of providing at least one third for a beneficial cause!
By providing two thirds of our wealth to our children, we take care and nourish them. But should we not nourish ourselves by providing one third for a purpose which will bring an eternal elation?!!
Furthermore, what is detestable in the tradition of the Ahlubait (as) is that we should leave nothing for our children and create beggars for society. The entire idea of Thuluth and Waqf is that of moderation – we should leave sufficient funds for our children but at the same time ensure that our community has something to benefit from.
In these sad days of the martyrdom of the demise of Fatimah Zahra (AS), we send our condolences to all, especially the Imam of the time (AJ).
In addition to this, the situation in Bahrain continues to worsen day by day and we remember our oppressed brothers and sisters in that part of the world in our duas.
On a national level, yesterday we witnessed the SONA. Although we maintain our political independence from all parties, I will say that certain trends that promote anarchy, chaos and an image of an ungovernable South Africa is dangerous for our future.
Criticising other individuals is always good and encourages growth, however raising slogans that lack action is not something that we should be deceived by. As Imam Ali (as) says: “Speaking about justice is the easiest topic to talk about, however, justice is the most difficult subject to practice.”