One-day IOS-IAF Seminar on Auqaf in Bengaluru
A one-day seminar on “Protection, promotion and progress of auqaf in India: Moving from recession to refurbishment” was organised on December 8, 2019 in Bengaluru jointly by the Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) and the Indian Auqaf Foundation (IAF). Both are headquartered in Delhi.
The crux of the message given at the conclusion of the seminar was that waqf property belongs to God alone and its protection and struggle to get encroachment on it vacated is the responsibility of the Muslim community. Community leaders, intellectuals, lawyers and former government officials associated with waqf administration had a consensus over the issue.
The above stance was articulated by former Union minister of minority affairs and head of Indian Auqaf Foundation, K Rahman Khan, in his keynote address.
The seminar began after a solemn recital from the Quran by Maulana Maqsud Imran Rashadi.
In his welcome address, Obaidullah Sharif, editor Urdu daily Pasban, said that this seminar was planned after a seminar in Bengaluru in 2015, which tried to understand and rectify possible weaknesses in the latest amendment to Waqf Act in 2013.
Justice Jawad Rahim recounted his experience with waqf affairs when as a 23-year old lawyer he was hired in a huge waqf property alienation case. To point out that retrieving an encroached waqf property was a constant, protracted struggle, he said that the particular case he had mentioned was still there after decades and the encroachment had not been vacated so far.
He said that waqf protection is a religious duty for all Muslims.
In his presidential address Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam, chairman of the Institute of Objective Studies, said that the IOS had so far conducted 14 national and international seminars on the protection and development of waqf properties and published over a dozen books on the subject. “We are going to work further on the issue. The IOS and IAF will together launch a countrywide awareness movement on the importance of auqaf, Dr Alam said. He said Muslims should avoid an emotional response to issues, but always be aware of them and devise a courageous and well-thought out response to them. Dr Alam said that the IOS had produced an international inventory on auqaf.
Former minister and presently member of state legislative council Naseer Ahmed said the Muslim community should first reform itself. With internal reform and confidence Muslims could solve their problems. “In Belgaum district, we have brought back 4,500 acres of land from encroachers to waqf,” he said, insisting that “we must depend on our own initiative.”
A vote of thanks, ending the inaugural session was proposed by Nisar Ahmad, director, Indian Auqaf Foundation & former president, Institute of Company Secretaries of India.
The technical session was begun by K Rahman Khan with a comprehensive power-point presentation on the Amendments of Waqf Act 2013, largely steered by him through parliament. It combined enlightening information on how to use its provisions to get encroachments vacated and streamline management.
IOS secretary general, Prof. ZM Khan, advocated an institutional eco-system of the community’s collective economic assets like baitalmaal, waqf and assorted assets. This would need a more ilmi (knowledge) input than the usual amali (practical) dimension. He explained it with his personal experience in South Africa and Kuwaiti auqaf that were run superbly. He told the gathering that the International Fiqh Academy had granted permission for auqaf property being used judiciously for commercial purposes, subject to some conditions. He argued for new methods for meeting new challenges and needs.
Prof. M. Afzal Wani, Professor of Law, GGSIP University, New Delhi and Vice-Chairman of IOS gave a vigorous talk emphasising “vim, vigour, vitality, honesty and josh-e-Imani “to achieve the community’s collective goals. He recounted how the concept of waqf began when Hazrat Umar’s dedication of property for public use near Khyber was appreciated by the Prophet (PBUH). Prof. Wani exhorted the audience: “Give this cause some of your time and your effort. Give it a Fundamental Rights and Human Rights perspective”.
KAS (retd.) officer, Mujibullah Zaffari, who has a considerable experience in waqf administration, said that God had “protected our (waqf) properties better than those of the government or of the majority community from encroachment.” Still Muslims have done pretty little for waqf protection. “We will have to account for our inaction on the Day of Judgment before God”, he said.
He explained that the Waqf Board was established in 1961, but it became functional only in 2014. Still a large number of waqf properties are occupied illegally, a 605 acre waqf property and another 251 acre property are still illegally occupied right in Bengaluru. The status of 12,500 acres of property lies in limbo. “We and our progeny will struggle to vacate them”, he added.
Dr. Amirullah Khan of the National Law University, Hyderabad, made some brief observations like, “we should consider whether we have centralised. Or, is centralisation desirable at all?”. He observed that church properties in India were generally better administered than waqf. Their structure and function should be studied.
International models of running trusts should also be studied to improve waqf administration in India. Australia solved similar problems 150 years ago. This should be looked into, Dr. Khan suggested.
For efficient administration of waqf, resort to greater use of computers and latest software is essential. He said that under former IAS officer Zamir Pasha’s guidance remarkable computerisation of waqfs was done. “What use are we making of it? Is it possible to turn Waqf into a financial institution from a land institution?” Dr. Khan enquired. People working on waqf issues should also learn from successful institutions like Malerkotla’s, he advised.
Asstt. secretary general of IOS Prof. Haseena Hashia, revealed that “Kashmir Waqf Board runs a parallel economy” and has been known to loan money to governments in financial trouble. Narrating a historical incident from the 12th century she said that Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam had started a caravan which everybody should join.
Two successful, young lawyers from Delhi, Tariq Siddiqui from the Delhi High Court and Wajeeh Shafiq from the Supreme Court, talked about their experiences in waqf litigation and described ways of dealing with them legally. Anwar Pasha (IAS retd.), who heads the state government’s deptt. of Skill Development, Entrepreneurship and Livelihood, made an impressive presentation explaining how their programme trains young people in 2,000 types of jobs for free. Everyone joining the training is offered five courses valid for all over India, or train for foreign jobs. If they lose their job abroad or somehow return, they are rehabilitated in India, Mr. Pasha said. “We pay for everything. The total cost is borne by the government. At the district level, skill development officers and DMS help”, he concluded.
An interactive session, chaired by Dr. Mohammad Ilyas of Karnataka State Board of Auqaf, was followed in which mutawallis from Karnataka state and other stake-holders from the floor participated, and interacted on issues related to protection, promotion and progress of auqaf.
At the end, Prof. Z.M. Khan, secretary general of the IOS, proposed the following resolution which was adopted by the house.
The seminar concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Mohammad Yusuf.
It is a matter of immense satisfaction that a one-day National Seminar on “Protection, Promotion and Progress of Auqaf in India: Moving from Recession to Refurbishment” jointly organised by the Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi, and Indian Auqaf Foundation, New Delhi, was held on Sunday, December 8, 2019 at Devaraj Urs Bhawan, Bengaluru, Karnataka. It was a well-attended seminar where the audience showed full interest and involvement in the proceedings.
Following is the 17-point resolution presented before the house for approval and passed unanimously:
1. The seminar calls upon the Muslim community to rise to protect the Waqf properties as Auqaf belong to Allah and to protect and develop them is fariza (duty) of every Muslim.
2. To impress upon the state governments to immediately establish waqf tribunals in every state, as required under Section 83 of the Waqf Amendment Act 2013.
3. To pursue with the state governments who have not yet taken up the survey of auqaf to immediately order the survey of waqf properties in their respective states and notify them as required under Section 4 and 5 of the Waqf Act.
4. Without the development of waqf properties, the benefit from the auqaf will not reach the community. The National Waqf Development Corporation (NAWDCO) established by Government of India for this purpose should be activated and the corporation should take up the Development of Waqf properties by involving the community.
5. To impress upon the state governments, wherever the boards are not existing to adopt the Waqf Amendment Act 2013 in its letter and spirit and ensure that Waqf Boards are constituted immediately according to the rules.
6. The seminar feels that the state governments are mainly responsible for poor functioning of the Waqf Boards. Hence they must take necessary steps to improve the functioning of the State Waqf Boards.
7. The seminar further feels that the state governments are violating statutory obligations to administer the implementation of the Waqf Act.
8. This seminar urges the state governments to maintain the list of Auqaf as required by the Waqf Act in addition to the Waqf Board’s tribunals.
9. Governments should transfer all waqf properties under their occupation under Section 104 of Waqf Act.
10. It is proposed to have a research unit that should concentrate on research & studies in auqaf and zakat institutions.
11. Efforts may be made to compile details of auqaf in different states, particularly in north India.
12. Awareness campaigns may be organised – special materials for print and electronic media may be made ready.
13. Upgradation of auqaf records may be looked into – RTI may be used extensively for extracting information.
14. Issues relating to auqaf and zakat should be put together and should be studied in a comparative way. Examples from Kuwait, Algeria, Sudan, Malaysia etc. may be studied.
15. A viable networking is urgently needed with concerned organisations.
16. Departments in universities like those of Islamic studies, sociology, political science, economics, management etc., should be approached to take up research in areas concerning auqaf.
17. Auqaf should be related to areas of education, health, community services, including old age homes. It would make auqaf a people-oriented movement.