What is a Waqf?

tab_01The Olive Tree Foundation functions as a Waqf, in that it is a public charitable foundation that promotes community development through the collection of endowed funds and charitable contributions, to fund services for the long-term benefit of the community.

Waqf (plural: Awqaf) is a form of charity, where a gift is donated to bring a charitable return. It is a collection of donations that are invested carefully, in perpetuity. In the case of the Olive Tree Foundation, the returns of this gift are disbursed to charities via grants. The base donation is never touched. For example, if a field is given as a Waqf, the crops and benefits derived from it can be used by the charity, while the field is held intact as the original investment. The Awqaf will provide a vehicle for Muslims to leave an ongoing legacy in Canada.

Grants are given to registered charitable organizations for projects that maintain or improve quality of life in the community within the fields of:

• Social & Health Services

• Education & Library Services

• Policy Institutes & Think Tanks

• Arts, Culture & Heritage

Historically, the practice of establishing a Waqf can be traced back to the time of the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). During his time, a Waqf generally took the form of a donated property or an institution to help others. It is a well known historical fact that a well-respected Rabbi, Mukhairiq, left 7 gardens for the Prophet in his will; upon his death, the Prophet distributed the inherited wealth and established what many consider to be the first Waqf  (charitable endowment) of Islam. Further, when Umar ibn Khattab, a companion of the Prophet, acquired some land in Khaibar, he asked the Prophet for advice on what he should do with it. The Prophet replied:  “If you wish, you can give its benefits to charity whilst preserving it – so that it can no longer be sold, nor bought, nor may it be possible to give it away or bequeath it.” Umar went on to dedicate the land to the benefit of the poor and needy relatives, to ‘set free slaves’ in the way of God, and to provide for guests and travellers. (Source: Islamic Relief UK; Wikipedia)