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Held in Trust

Held in Trust: Waqf in the Islamic World

Edited by Pascale Ghazaleh
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Held in Trust
    Book Description:

    Waqfs (pious endowments) long held a crucial place in the political, economic, and social life of the Islamic world. Waqfs were major sources of education, health care, and employment; they shaped the city and contributed to the upkeep of religious edifices. They constituted a major resource, and their status was at stake in repeated struggles to impose competing definitions of legitimacy and community. Closer examination of the diverse legal, institutional, and practical aspects of waqfs in different regions and communities is necessary to a deeper understanding of their dynamism and resilience. This volume, which evolved from papers delivered at the 2005 American University in Cairo Annual History Seminar, offers a meticulous set of studies that fills a gap in our knowledge of waqf and its uses.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-522-6
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: Pious Foundations: From Here to Eternity?
    (pp. 1-22)
    Pascale Ghazaleh

    For centuries, waqfs(endowments or foundations) were a crucial part of the political, economic, and social history of the Arab and Muslim world. As service-providing institutions, waqfs were a major source of education, health care, and employment. As urban landmarks, they shaped the city and contributed to the upkeep of religious edifices.¹ By definition, these endowments were conceived to generate income and therefore played a crucial role in both rural and urban economies, helping channel surplus from the countryside to the cities. Rulers and subjects, Christians, Muslims, and Jews alike, could establish them; their revenue, while ultimately intended for the...

  5. 1 Dervishes, Waqfs, and Conquest: Notes on Early Ottoman Expansion in Thrace
    (pp. 23-40)
    Riza Yildirim

    In the medieval Islamic world, many of the services today provided by modern governments and municipalities were left to ‘civil agents’ such as waqfs and charitable institutions. States were to provide security, against both internal and external threats, and to distribute and maintain justice. Services such as education, health, relief of poverty, public and religious constructions (mosques, ablution pools, cemeteries, baths), and infrastructure projects (water supply, bridges, roads) were all provided by the waqf system. From this point of view, as a modern scholar observed: “it is not an exaggeration to claim that the waqf, or pious endowment created in...

  6. 2 Piety and Profit: The Haramayn Endowments in Egypt (1517–1814)
    (pp. 41-72)
    Husam ʹAbd al-Muʹti

    Long before the Ottoman period, the Hijaz had relied on Egypt’s governments to provide it with financial support and grain in exchange for religious and moral authority, validating Egypt’s rulers as leaders of the Islamic world. When the Ottomans annexed Egypt in 1517, responsibility for protecting Mecca and Medina was transferred from the Mamluk rulers to the Ottoman sultan in his capacity as Guardian of the Two Holy Cities, strengthening political and economic ties between the Ottomans and the rulers of Mecca. These ties were founded on mutual interests: in exchange for lavish gifts of money and grain sent each...

  7. 3 The Sadir al-Fuqahaʹ wa-l-Fuqaraʹ Endowment (Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi) in Alexandria during the Eighteenth Century
    (pp. 73-102)
    Nasir Ibrahim

    Waqfs, religious endowments, have played an important role in the lives of individuals and society in general at various times in the history of the Middle East. For most of the Ottoman period, these endowments, and the foundations they supported, were the sole providers of crucial basic services like education, health, utilities, and public works, as well as scholarly, religious, and social institutions, which fell outside the state’s remit. Because the state depended on such endowments for the provision of services to society, the institution came to play an influential role in ordering relations between state and society.

    Among the...

  8. 4 Control of Urban Waqfs in al-Salt, Transjordan
    (pp. 103-120)
    Michael J. Reimer

    As has been amply demonstrated by historians of the Middle East, the institution of waqf was essential to the support of religious and social services from the period of the establishment of military patronage states in medieval Islam¹ and on into the high noon of Ottoman hegemony over the region.² What is not so often remembered, but which is of significance for the study of the modern era, is that these foundations continued their work during the era of Ottoman reform and even into the post-Ottoman era. Indeed, inasmuch as Ottoman society could not have functioned without endowed properties to...

  9. 5 Zawiyat Sidi al-Ghazi: Survival of a Traditional Religious Institution
    (pp. 121-134)
    John A. Shoup

    The zawiya, or hospice, of Sidi al-Ghazi in the Tafilalt is one of the most important in the western part of the Sahara. It figures among the six most important of those located along the northern fringe of the Sahara, which include Sidi Ma’ al-‘Aynayn (Tiznit), Sidi Ahmad u-Musa (Iligh), Sidi Sa‘id Ahansal (Zawiyat Ahansal), Sidi Muhammad bin Nasir (Tamaghrut), and Sidi Bu Ziyan (Kandasah).¹ The founder of thezawiya, Sidi Abu al-Qasim al-Ghazi, was a member of the Sharifian Idrisi family and a direct descendant of the early Idrisi Sufi leader, ‘Abd al-Salam ibn Mashish. The Sufiisnad(chain...

  10. 6 Guild Waqf: Between Religious Law and Common Law
    (pp. 135-154)
    Nelly Hanna

    The study of waqf is a field that has known intensive scholarly work, this institution having for many decades been explored by legal scholars and historians who have scrutinized waqf law and the provisions that regulated it. They have studied the application of this law on the ground in specific contexts, and they have explored the impact of waqf on societies and economies. The literature on this subject is consequently extensive and has allowed historians to understand waqf better than many other Islamic institutions. Studies on Mamluk waqf have been particularly developed, and as a result we now know a...

  11. 7 Waqfs of Cyrenaica and Italian Colonialism in Libya (1911–41)
    (pp. 155-178)
    Anna Maria Medici

    In Cyrenaica, as elsewhere in the Muslim Mediterranean, waqf constituted a major resource and so was an important part of the Italian colonial authorities’ efforts to sustain the initiative of occupation. The importance of waqf in the economic, strategic, and cultural fields, especially in Cyrenaica, and its relevance to the religious and cultural identity of the colonized people, meant that waqf policy was a crucial component of colonial projects. In this sense, it was repeatedly at stake in the struggle pursued by the colonial authorities to impose competing definitions of legitimacy and community.

    Italy first occupied the Ottoman territories of...

  12. 8 The Waqf System: Maintenance, Repair, and Upkeep
    (pp. 179-196)
    Dina Ishak Bakhoum

    It is essential that the principles guiding the preservation and restoration of ancient buildings should be agreed and be laid down on an international basis, with each country being responsible for applying the plan within the framework of its own culture and traditions.”

    —The Venice Charter

    Successive Islamic regimes in Egypt constructed a variety of magnificent buildings such as mosques,sabils(water dispensaries),sabil-kuttabs(water dispensaries with Qur’anic schoolrooms above),wikalas(warehouses with an inn), madrasas (Islamic theological colleges),bimaristans(hospitals), houses, andkhanqahs(monastic residences for Sufis).¹ Although many of these buildings no longer exist, some are still in...

  13. 9 The Role of Waqf in Shaping and Preserving Urban Areas: The Historical Commercial Center of Adana
    (pp. 197-208)
    Tuba Akar

    In the Ottoman Empire, waqfs or pious endowments were the main force behind construction and public works. The Ottoman state, rather than discharging a modern state’s duties of providing social welfare, left such tasks to institutions like the waqf. Social, cultural, economic, and educational services were provided and maintained by waqfs of different sizes and varying degrees of importance; so, as waqfs served public welfare, they also contributed to shaping space throughout the empire, especially in the urban areas. Mosques, madrasas, khans, baths, shops, and other facilities that existed thanks to waqf revenues offered social, cultural, and educational services to...

  14. Conclusion: Ottoman Waqfs as Acts of Citizenship
    (pp. 209-229)
    Engin F. Isin

    The waqf as an institution of beneficence is well known among Islamic scholars. The idea that waqfs provided many of the social and cultural services to ‘citizens’ of diverse Islamic polities ranging from the Mamluk and Ottoman empires to India, Indonesia, and Iran would not surprise many scholars. But to interpret the Islamic waqf as an ‘act’ of citizenship is at best unconventional. This argument requires changing our modern understanding of citizenship as contractual status. It requires considering the ways in which the concept of citizenship has evolved through history and how it enabled a division between modern and traditional...