IOS organises two-day national conference on “True Nature and Management of Auqaf for Better Protection, Performance and Development” at Pune

IOS organises two-day national conference on “True Nature and Management of Auqaf for Better Protection, Performance and Development” at Pune

Pune: A two-day national conference on “True Nature and Management of Auqaf for Better Protection, Performance, and Development” was organised by the Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi, in association with Waqf Liaison Forum, Pune, Waqf Task Force, Pune, and Indian Auqaf Foundation, Bengaluru at Azam Campus, Pune, on November 26-27, 2022.

Inaugural Session

The inaugural session of the conference began with the recitation of a Qura’nic verse by Mr. Mansoor Ahmad with its translation in Urdu. The proceedings were conducted by Mr. Shaikh Nizamuddin, a member of the IOS General Assembly and All India Milli Council. Mr. Akramul Jabbar Khan, a retired Chief Income Tax Commissioner, welcomed the guests and introduced the topic and explained the purpose of holding the national conference.

Opening the conference, the former Union Minister of Minority Affairs, Mr. K Rahman Khan, said that the topic of the conference was very relevant and related to the performance of Auqaf. He noted that the purpose of Auqaf is charitable and religious. There are about six lakh Auqaf in India, which include masjids, graveyards, dargahs, etc.; all of which come under public property, and therefore, their income should be spent for charitable purposes. An effort was made to make the Waqf Act in 1924. Then the Waqf Act was made in 1995. In 1985, the upkeep of Auqaf was transferred to states. The Waqf Act amended in in 1995 had a provision to remove illegal occupation of Waqf property. The Act, however, had some shortcomings, and, in order to remove them, a parliamentary standing committee was appointed. Again, a comprehensive Waqf. Act was made in 2013. He said that India had a Waqf Act and state Waqf boards. Despite this, there were encroachments on Waqf property and illegal occupants were making money. Under the Waqf Act, 1995, Waqf boards had elected members, MLAs and government nominees. At the top level, there existed Waqf council. He demanded that Auqaf properties should be protected and their illegal occupation removed.

Mr. K. Rahman Khan observed that the Waqfs are not being seemingly used for why the Waqf legislation was enacted. Meaning thereby Waqfs were not being properly used. There was a law to protect Waqf properties, but this was not being implemented in letter and practice. He said that Auqafs should be made profitable. Waqf properties were donated for the welfare of the people. Thus it was the duty of every Muslim to protect the Waqf property. He held that people did everything possible to protect their property but did little to save the Waqf property. He said that the property donated by the forefathers as Waqf should be protected by the community or else they would be answerable to Allah on the Day of Judgement. He said that currently, 1.04 crore acres of land in India belong to Waqf, enclosing many cities of India. There would be a complete changeover if Waqf properties were properly used. He noted that even the Supreme Court ruled “once Waqf is always Waqf”. Conferences and seminars on Auqaf were being organised but what was needed was to develop an institutional mechanism to save Waqf properties. He referred to the setting up of a parliamentary committee headed by him and Sachar Committee report for the amelioration of a lot of Muslims. A one thousand crore rupees project encompassing all aspects of the community’s welfare was prepared but it could not move an inch after 2014.

Mr. K. Rahman Khan remarked that he got the Waqf lease rules drafted under which nobody could take land on lease against the law, and Waqf properties could be commercially developed in order to increase their income. Unfortunately, it was not being done. Waqf property belongs to Allah, and everyone is duty-bound to protect it. It could be done voluntarily as well. No community could progress with only emotional slogans. Auqafs should be looked after like five-time prayers and fasting. Since Waqf properties belong to Allah, Muslims have a duty to save them from encroachment and misuse. He referred to a state that possessed 5000-acre Waqf property. The apex court ruled that it was the property of Waqf. But the concerned state government sold about 2000 acres of property, and the rest were handed over to the Waqf board. He expressed confidence that the conference would yield positive results.

Dr. Wajahat Mirza, the Chairman of the Maharashtra state Waqf board, shared his personal experience during one year of his term. He said that when he took over as the board’s chief, the registration of 2500-3000 mosques was pending. During one year, about 1800 of them were registered. People from far-off areas faced problems because of the distance of the headquarters of the Waqf board, which is situated in Aurangabad. Besides, against the sanctioned strength of 263, only 27 employees are currently working on the board. In March this year, the government granted permission to fill 170 vacancies. He said the board would organise camps in other towns of the state for the registration of Waqf properties.

Mr. Akramul Jabbar Khan, a retired Chief Income Tax Commissioner, pointed out that he was fully devoted to the identification of Waqf properties, their upkeep, and illegal occupation. He said that in many cases, encroachers have been sitting over Waqf properties for years. He observed that his main focus was on education. Arguing for the construction of big buildings on Waqf land, he said that they should be commercially used for increasing the income of those properties. This must be done to thank Allah for giving us the strength to perform the job. In Burhanpur, he found that there were 700-800 illegal occupations of Waqf properties. Stressing the need for the modernisation of Waqf properties, he referred to a Waqf property that was spread over 280 acres on which 2000-3000 tree plantations existed. Such cases were found in UP and Bihar too. Waqf boards were charged with the task of identifying illegal occupants and dispossessing them. He said that problems relating to Auqaf were many.

In his keynote address, Prof. M. Afzal Wani, Vice-chairman, IOS, pointed out that problems had multiplied during the last three decades. He said that if one had proper planning, he would achieve success, or else he would fail. Progress depends on the application of the mind. Exhorting the younger generation to develop a culture to face problems, he said that every leader thought that they had the last word. But, this was far from reality. Every effort of a Muslim is needed. They have to decide how to face challenges and save humanity. Muslims must use their resources to benefit others. Proper use of the property should be decided by taking all stakeholders into confidence. He advised that when a problem occurs, one should see what is lacking in it. Referring to the legislation made on Auqafs, he said that the properties should be properly managed to serve the Ummah. If the community did not become conscious, problems would only multiply. He called for critical thinking about how the work could be taken forward. Success could be achieved if the efforts were made with spiritual zeal. People could create Waqf properties because they were their institutions. With a view to properly managing such properties, they needed to be democratised, he added.

Dr. PA Inamdar, an eminent educationist, observed that things before 1950 were different from today. Elaborating on his point, he said that earlier, one had only clothes to wear, but today, there was no place to keep them. In spite of this, people are not happy. If the community wanted to progress, it would have to be very serious about its responsibilities. He held that about 27000 students were pursuing different courses on his campus. He reiterated that if Muslims started their work in the name of Allah, nobody could stop them from progressing. It was for the community leaders to brood about how Muslims could progress. In order to protect and develop Waqf properties, sincere and honest people would have to be appointed to Waqf boards, he remarked. 

Prominent cleric Maulana Aslam Rizvi commented that three systems are in existence today. There are capitalistic, participatory, and Islamic systems. The Islamic system is the best among all of them. Lakhs of acres of land are under illegal occupation today. Thus a plan of action should be formulated to free Waqf properties from illegal occupants. Pleading for holding more such conferences in the future, he said on the Day of Judgement, Allah will ask the faithful to what they did for the protection of Waqf properties. He assured the full cooperation of the Shia community to every effort being made for the preservation of Auqaf.

In his presidential remarks, Prof. ZM Khan, the Secretary General of the IOS, said that the IOS published five books on Waqf. Besides, 16 conferences have been organized by the institute so far in different places in the country on it. He observed that Muslims were living in a survival syndrome because they were being systematically destroyed. About 17.2 crore Muslims live in India, but their economic condition is not good. Calling Islam the best system in the world, he said that it covered all aspects of life. Islam offered the best democratic system. Advising against finding fault with Islam all the time, he noted that Muslims were caught in the vortex of neither leaving nor catching. A large number of the Muslim population in rural areas shifted to urban areas. But the better half section was of no help to them. Thus there was a need to promote others so that they could also progress. That was the only way out of the present impasse.

He called upon Muslim philanthropists to come forward and extend a helping hand to the poor and the needy in the community. He asked them to visit such areas that required the work to be done. No civilisation in the world could claim that it had not taken anything from Islam. He asked the Muslims to use their brain in solving problems facing the community. Problems before Auqaf were not confined to India alone. They were everywhere in the world. He said that the success stories relating to Waqfs should be shared with others for emulation. The IOS surveyed the economic status of Muslims in Haryana and Punjab, he concluded.

Mr. Mohammad Alam, Finance Secretary of the IOS, who represented the Chairman, Dr. M. Manzoor Alam, was also present in the conference.

Technical Session-I

Speaking at the first technical session, Datuk Dr. Mohamed Ghazali Md. Noor, Chairman, iWaqf, Malaysia, and former First Director Strategic Planning, IDB Group, Jeddah, emphasised to work for better protection, performance, and development of Auqaf. He highlighted the role and form of global waqf for the development of the ummah in the 21st century, changing economic realities/opportunities for global waqf, strategic positioning of Muslims through the waqf agenda for Nusantara and catalyst for change imperative of global waqf etc. Auqaf is akhirat duty for Allah SWT….it is everywhere anywhere…only yesterday it is nowhere.. So, we have to bring to SOMEWHERE or we will Go no Where”, he said.

Dr. Zafar Mahmood, Chairman of Zakat Foundation India, in his speech held that it was the need of the hour to organise such a conference to discuss issues relating to Waqfs. He called for having a telescopic vision of the entire issue. Tracing the genesis of the present legislation on Waqfs, he noted that in 1883, the Religious Endowments Act was passed, and since then, several amendments to the Waqf Act have been made. In order to properly manage, protect and reclaim Waqf properties, several states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, and Karnataka had a separate Waqf cadre.  The Sachar Committee Report had also recommended that a senior officer of the state cadre be appointed as CEO of the Waqf board concerned. Joint Parliamentary Committee too made a similar recommendation. The Sachar Committee had also recommended the constitution of an Indian Waqf Service. The National Waqf Academy, set up a year ago, would provide intellectual input to recruit young graduates for Waqf service, he concluded.

Dr. Zafar Mahmood was followed by Mr. M. R. Shamshad, Advocate, Supreme Court of India. He pleaded for mutually resolving issues. Things were not bad at the upper level, and it was the responsibility of the Ummah to see to it that masjids, graveyards and other Waqf properties were protected. Every Muslim has a right to enquire about the current position of Waqf properties. Muslims should be encouraged to engage with the Ulema in masjids and dargahs to sort out their issues and avoid approaching courts and Waqf boards. They should neither fall prey to temptation nor be vulnerable to charges. Muslims should be encouraged to engage with the Ulema in masjids and dargahs to sort out their issues and avoid approaching courts and Waqf boards. They should neither fall prey to temptation nor be vulnerable to charges. He emphasised the need to act unitedly to protect the interest of masjids. The Muslim community only gave and never sought anything in return. Calling for doing work on the ground level to benefit from it, he urged the IOS to publish literature on Auqaf.

Advocate Shamshad observed that Jains and Sikhs faced similar problems. Though there was law and courts to deal with the issues of Auqaf, one could not read the laws relating to them. He asked the community to be self-sufficient to financially manage Auqaf. Matters arising out of Auqaf were not religious but related to property. Thus it was also necessary to pay attention to record management. There was also a need to build a relationship with the trustee of Waqf because he was not a religious entity. He was there to generate financial resources. He remarked that the account of the Waqf property should be maintained.

In his concluding remarks, Prof. M. Afzal Wani suggested that a document should be prepared for future action. This document should be drafted from the legal point of view as well. Muslims should be awakened about the better use of the document. Describing the conference as significant, he said that its proceedings should be sent to those who are interested in Auqaf to enlighten them on the subject. A trustee of a Waqf property should also be invited to future Waqf conferences in order to share his experience. He suggested that a conference be organised in Mumbai in which he would also like to participate. He said that he was impressed by the unceasing efforts of Mr. Akramul Jabbar Khan in this direction.


Business Session-II

The second business session focused on the aims and objectives of Waqf management. Speaking in the session. Mr. Akramul Jabbar Khan referred to Alamgiri masjid Waqf, where he made a proposal for the setting of a vocational training school. A similar proposal was made in the Kali masjid Waqf complex in Solapur city. He called for maintaining proper accounts and registration of Waqfs. He said that the resources of Waqfs should be generated for the benefit of the community. The entire world knew that Muslims were a poor community. Thus there was an urgent need to save Waqf properties, he added.

Advocate-on-record, Supreme Court of India, Mr. Rauf Rahim, explained the legal perspective of laws relating to Auqaf.

Former CEO of Maharashtra State Waqf Board, Mr. Abdul Rauf Shaikh, said that he remained in the post from 2006 to 2008. He made several suggestions for empowering Auqaf. He noted that the Waqf Act was fine in its present form but required some minor changes even though a few amendments were made in the Act of 2013. He expressed concern that some people were planning to get the Waqf Act scrapped. This should not be allowed to happen at any cost, and efforts should be made to protect and develop the existing properties. He also suggested that a bold, honest, and regular CEO of the board should be appointed, and the CEO should belong to the All India Waqf Service. Nearly 90,000 acres of land in Maharashtra came under Waqf. Under the new Waqf Act, encroachment on Waqf property had been made a cognizable offence. But the impediment to the encroachment removal was the non-availability of manpower. Thousands of masjids had not so far been registered. Thus there was a need to register such masjids by organising camps. Laying stress on the minimisation of litigation, he said that building mafias sold the Waqf land in connivance with trustees.

Dr. Abdul Halim Zeidan, Chairman, Glocalobe Development Programs Institute, Lebanon, shed light on futuristic Waqf. According to the new definition, Waqf was an organised voluntary allocation of sustainable empowerment resources. The community had extended resources that were different from classical resources. It required re-energising the futuristic Waqf thought. He also said that Waqf should be redefined from the civilisation revival perspective. He called for developing competencies in all fields and sectors, paralleled to leadership. Mr. Salim Mulla, President of Waqf Land Task Force, said that the course of action in the matter should be decided. Millat was also duty-bound to cooperate in the task of overseeing and upholding Waqfs. And all the stakeholders would do well if taken interest in it, he stressed.

Mr. M. Farid Tungekar, Director, Waqf Liaison, observed that the first Surah of the Holy Qur’an laid emphasis on education. According to the Qur’an, there were two types of knowledge. First, religious knowledge, and second, secular knowledge. The Indian Constitution defined religious and linguistic minorities. Under Article 29, the interests of minorities have been protected. While Article 26 gives freedom to manage religious affairs subject to public order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any section there of shall have the right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes; to manage its own affairs in matters of religion. Article 30 gives the right to the minorities to establish and administer educational institutions. He said ‘once a Waqf, always a Waqf.’ He explained the concept of tolerance, charity, and philanthropy in Islam. He also referred to the endowments in India by Muslim rulers as well as Shivaji, the Maratha ruler. Tracing the history of Waqfs, he said that there had been a shift and reciprocity. But about 68,550 acres of land still had no management. He clarified that the mutawalli was the owner of the Waqf. This was due also to the lack of interest and awareness in the community. Thus the community needed to be awakened. There has to be a mode of development of Waqf properties. Besides, measurement of performance and accountability needed to be put in place, he pointed out.

Mr. Usman Ghani from Hyderabad emphasised that the protection of the Waqf property was very important. He said that till Muslims got their rights guaranteed in the Constitution, Waqf property could neither be properly managed nor protected. Criticising the inaction of the Telangana Waqf Board, he said that land worth Rs. 20,000 crores in the state was going to waste.

Business Session-III

Mr. Salim Mulla, President, Waqf Land Task Force, remarked that he devoted his life to Auqaf. He asked the Muslims not to allow the feeling of weakness to affect them. Waqf boards could do much for strengthening Auqaf in terms of better management if their funding improved, he added.

Dr. Zahir A Kazi, Chairman, Anjuman-e-Islam, referred to Waqf laws and stressed that the Waqf institutions should be strengthened. In order to free the Waqf properties from illegal occupation, an unauthorised occupation bill must be brought. Besides, the community should be acquainted with civility and good mannerism. He said that Waqfs in several states were engaged in implementing welfare schemes. What was important was to ensure that the office bearers of the board worked. He suggested that the functioning of the board and the management be improved. Every board should have an educational wing, and the GPS and remote sensing technology be used for better functioning, he argued.

Advocate Rashid Siddique of Waqf Matta Suraksha Force, Aurangabad, regretted that the well-off people from the community were least concerned about the well-being of poor Muslims. He said that the Waqf board consisted of Muslim functionaries, but the loot was rampant. Allah created all the Waqf land for human beings. Thus both the giver and receiver of Waqf land continued to be the owner of the said land. He maintained that land worth about Rs. 8 lakh crore was still untraceable. With a view to recovering Waqf land, a movement could be launched, and his organisation was willing to cooperate in the task. Muslims were poor despite Zakah (charity) to the tune of Rs. 25,000 crores being distributed. He urged the Waqf experts to maximally use social media to reach out to the community.

Dr. Shariq Nisar, professor at Rizvi College of Management, Mumbai, spoke on cash Waqf and its relevance in India. He said that liquidity was the main problem in cash Waqf. However, cash Waqf was very much in circulation in countries like Malaysia and Bahrain. He briefly threw light on understanding the Waqf and its relevance, structure, types, categories, innovations, and challenges faced by Waqf and Waqf in India.

Sayed Anwar Ali, MELLM, Joint secretary, Indian Union Lawyers League, focused on innovative financing for Waqf development projects. He pointed out the drawbacks of the existing financial institutions. He also referred to current financing regimes for Auqaf development and the National Waqf Development Corporation Limited. Proposing solutions to such issues, he said that there should be sharing-based instruments. Besides, there should be instruments yielding predetermined returns. He concluded by saying that innovative financing of Waqf could be mobilised.

Valedictory Session

Delivering the valedictory speech, Prof. M. Afzal Wani said that there should be a networking system to connect with people. In addition, there should a media arm, a hospital, and a knowledge-sharing system. Waqf is an institution that enabled typing up of property for a pious cause like alleviation, promoting human good, facilitating collective human activities at all levels, and making humanness sustain in its endurance and dynamics. The institution had historically helped people in meeting the problems of health education, food, and so on in various situations, especially when the normal institutional functioning was ceased by internal malevolence and external challenges of subjugation, deprivation, and colonisation. He said that the role of Auqaf was perpetual and continued in most parts of the world for the benefit of many.

Prof. Wani maintained that at present, India has lakhs of significant Waqfs with a potential of a few billion economies. The people, whose fate could be different that destitution because of an honest and effective Auqaf system, were not truly able to avail the support to their lives, in spite of these endowed resources being there. The issue was doing rounds and rounds among a few members of society for unclear ideas and motivations. He said the issues needed to be seriously addressed and considered with new needs and new techniques. Ulema, academics, activists, journalists, Waqf administrators, beneficiaries, Waqf bound members, politicians, research scholars, and persons interested in the establishment of Auqaf must all sincerely engage themselves in the process of understanding true nature and management of Auqaf for better protection, performance, and promotion with all knowledge in faith, philosophy, and technology. Any kind of indifference and laxity shown in the matter was a clear violation of the basic principle of universal brotherhood and advancement of welfare measures, which were fully prominent at the heart of the Islamic faith, he emphasised.

Dr. M. Manzoor Alam, Chairman, IOS, who could not physically attend the conference, in his message, said that the fundamental idea behind the concept of Waqf was focused on the socio-economic assistance, strength, stability, and the development of the Muslim population. The humanitarian emphasis of the concept was entirely Fi-Sabilillah (charity for the sake of Allah for His pleasure). Any asset/possession which had been given/donated/purchased for the Waqf had no longer any individual claim regally and was used for the benefit of ummah. He observed that the Constitution of India under Article 26 gave every religious denomination or any section the right to organise, maintain, manage and administer institutions for religious and charitable purposes. However, there had been many encroachments and illegal occupation of Waqf properties. The assets under Waqf needed the utmost attention of the Ulema, Islamic institutions, organisations, and Ummah to change the present status by presenting a comparative plan to challenge each problem with logic and rationale and come up with solutions, he emphasised.

In his presidential remarks, Prof. Z M Khan remarked that in terms of Auqaf, India presented a pathetic situation in terms of the potential and size of Auqaf and the performance of Auqaf over the centuries. The stakeholders were overwhelmingly selfish, incompetent, and weak, as a result of which Auqaf were in bad shape. As it was claimed, Waqf was a redistribution institution, and its objective was to support the general good and welfare of the whole society. But, the most important issue relating to Auqaf in India was how to salvage and improve the system and working of Auqaf in India. Waqf endowments in India were staggering. He said that there were around 8 lakh registered properties and as much as 6 lakh acres of land, the largest in the world. Prof. Khan observed that over the years, Auqaf had fulfilled crucial needs in various sectors like education, healthcare, national security, commercial and business activities, transportation facilities, shelter, and food for the needy, creating jobs for the unemployed. Waqf, in its constructive sense, was one of the redistribution institutions for the welfare of the whole society, he concluded.

On this occasion, an eleven-point resolution unanimously passed by the delegates of the conference was read out by M. Farid Tungekar. The resolution read as:

It is a matter of satisfaction that a two-day Waqf conference in Pune on November 26-27, 2022 is finally concluded.  It was rewarding to participate in the deliberation.  To sum up, the following are proposed resolutions to be adopted by the house.

A- Ministry of Minority Affairs Govt. of India & State Minority Departments should issue rebuttal of the false propaganda/untruths about the WAQF ACT through media in various quarters. This can be easily done by issuing a White Paper about Waqf properties, purpose, and history thereof.

B- Digitisation through sorely needs SUPERVISION AND RECTIFICATION of glaring mistakes. No business/project has ever succeeded with incomplete and incorrect INVENTORY. Digitisation should be REAL TIME, CORRECT, AND COMPLETE.

C- The Central Waqf Council should exercise its power of calling for information from the WBs more regularly and STRINGENTLY. The members of the CWC are advisors to the government of India on WAQF MATTERS, and as such that institution should further be refurbished, if need be.

D-  State Governments are bound by law to put up in the assembly annual reports about Auqaf in their jurisdiction on the basis of reports submitted by the Waqf Boards as provided. Submission of such reports and publication thereof be ensured.

E- Submission of annual AUDIT REPORTS by the WBs to the CWC should be ensured. If a Waqf Board does not deliver, it should be dissolved in the interest of protection of this very important tool of social welfare.

F- Concerned Waqf Boards should ensure that the legal limit of a total of five years for a property being in their management and the requirement of annual reports relating to such properties should be STRICTLY ADHERED TO.

G- Recruitment of staff, outsourcing, prioritisation, and formation of local committees as provided under the law should, needless to say, be taken up IMMEDIATELY.

H- Developmental work, as provided under section 32 (4,5,6), be taken up in consultation with the local area committees. The objective of development should be the maximisation of income therefrom to finance aids, scholarships, etc.

I- A wide-bodied research cell comprising experts from various concerned fields should be formed at the national level with similar bodies at the state level. This body/bodies should be in constant interaction with CWC/WBs as well as Mutawallian and publish the annual report of their activities for the information of the community.

Simultaneously, this body should elect personnel of eminence to serve as a "WAQF OMBUDSMAN". This institution should be at the National level as well as State level.

J- An appeal to the community suitably and widely advertised through local zimmedarans/activists for the institution of a WAQF FUND. This is necessary for effectively carrying out the Waqf Liberation and development work.

K- Lastly, all efforts should be made to engage actively with all elected representatives who talk about minority interests.

The conference concluded with the presentation of a vote of thanks. 

A view of audience


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