Two-day national conference on Waqf

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Two-day national conference on Waqf

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The dismal performance of Waqf boards is a matter of concern: Rahman Khan

Pune: The poor performance of state waqf boards has become a major cause of concern to the Muslim community opined former Union Minorities Minister K Rahman Khan who was delivering an opening speech at the two-day national waqf conference held at the Azam Campus in Camp here. The conference passed a draft resolution that seeks to create a post of waqf ombudsman at the centre and states to keep a close tab on the waqf boards’ activities across India.

The conference held on November 26-27 titled “Understanding True Nature and Management of Auqaf for Better Protection, Performance, and Development” was attended by lawyers, academicians, intellectuals, former bureaucrats, and lawmakers.

Rahman Khan, who was the chief guest at the opening session, claimed that the reason why waqf boards were established was not being met, and as a result, they were unable to protect and develop thousands of waqf holdings scattered around the country.

“Illegal occupation of waqf land can be vacated and the law has given enough powers to the state boards to evict the encroachers but is the waqf board taking the necessary steps to remove them is a big question. It is seen that across the country, waqf boards have been showing dwindling and dismal performances. The board members including mutawallis (caretakers) are found fighting amongst themselves which in a big way has affected the functioning of the board and weakened them considerably,” the former minister underlined.

He further pointed out that “The very purpose of waqf is being defeated as the properties are not being developed for the upliftment of the community. The duty to protect and develop the waqf property is the religious right of every Muslim and if they ignore and keep silent on ongoing encroachment of waqf properties, they are committing a crime. It is the responsibility of the community and every Muslim to rise to the occasion to protect the waqf properties.”

It is to be mentioned that under Rahman Khan, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Waqf prepared an extensive report on waqf properties.

According to the Shariah law, waqf is a permanent dedication of movable or immovable properties for religious, pious, or charitable purposes.

Conference convenor and former chief commissioner of income tax Akramul Jabbar Khan bemoaned the Muslim community’s lack of interest in waqf issues. Jabbar Khan also suggested building colleges, hospitals, schools, skill development centres, and dispensaries on waqf holdings for the community’s empowerment.

“It is a shame that thousands of acres of waqf land have been lost due to a lack of groundwork and interest by the Muslim community. Until the community turns out in substantial numbers, the waqf land liberation work will not gather momentum. Waqf resources through development can bring about a transformational change in the lives of Muslims in the country and lead to the development of the nation. Commercial development of waqf land is the need of the hour to alleviate the community’s plight,” he said, who is also an advisor of Maharashtra Waqf Liberation and Protection and Task Force (MWLPT).

He also asked that the government quickly correct the incorrect numerical values assigned to acres of Waqf land.

In his remarks, Delhi-based Institute of Objective Studies (IOS)’s Vice Chairman, Prof Mohammad Afzal Wani said that the Holy Prophet Mohammad’s suggestion to Caliph Omar in response to a crisis led to the establishment of the waqf.

“The waqf property must be tied and it must get perpetuity and not get sold” was the original philosophy of waqf. Every effort made in this regard by Muslims now is a knee-jerk reaction. During the Ottoman Empire, 2/3rd of the Muslim property was waqf and only 1/3rd was with the public as they believed in the institution and were not afraid of the property. We must believe and trust in waqf and create the character and skill to manage it”, Prof Wani said.

Nobody else in the world, according to Prof. Z. M. Khan, Secretary General of IOS, has democratized waqf more than Islam.

“Indian Muslims are realizing the reality on the ground and waking up to the changing times. They are rapidly adopting urbanization and womenfolk are making painstaking efforts to educate their children. If mothers are taking such major steps toward child education, then a major change is on the anvil which will lead to the development of the nation. Waqf is one of the most important tools for national and social progress for the community,” Prof Khan said.

The conference has been planned, according to Salim Mulla, president of MWLPT, to raise awareness of waqf. For the two-day national waqf conference in Pune, about 40 intellectuals from diverse professions across India have gathered to discuss how to best use waqf properties for the benefit of the Muslim community, he stated.

The conference highlighted the legal point that state governments are required by law to provide yearly reports regarding waqf under their jurisdiction.

The resolution, emphasizes the boards’ need to provide the Central Waqf Council with annual audit reports. A waqf board must be disbanded if it fails to deliver.

The other resolutions included hiring workers, outsourcing, prioritizing, and setting up local committees in accordance with the legislation. A broad research cell made up of experts from diverse fields should be established concurrently at the national and state levels. The aforementioned organizations ought to communicate regularly with waqf boards and release an annual report on their operations.

Conference convener Jabbar Khan said, “The draft resolutions will be sent to Union and state governments. It is high time that the state waqf boards are made accountable to the government and measures undertaken along the lines of our resolution will lead to the socio-economic empowerment of not only the Muslim community but other citizens. It will lead to an increase in revenue for the boards including the government and the earnings can be channelized for construction of educational and social infrastructure as part of national development.”