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Some Curious Trusts



            I did not intend to add anything about waqf after having finished discussing it and having mentioned the positions of the schools. But incidentally at the time when I had finished the chapter on waqf to go on to the chapter on hajr (legal disability) I read a curious and interesting account regarding Egyptian waqfs during the eras of the Mamluks and earlier 'Uthmanis. I had received two magazines, the Lebanese Li~an al-Hal and the Egyptian al- 'Akhbar dated 7th July 1964, and I set aside my pen and started perusing them so to know about the current developments and to relieve myself of monotony.  

            By chance I happened to read in the magazine al-'Akhbar that in the Directorate of Waqf, Egypt, is an iron vault that had remained locked for hundreds of years. The Directorate decided to open it to find out its contents. When the doors of this vault were opened, thousands of deeds and agreements covered with dust and piled upon one another were found. Twenty persons were appointed to study them. When they started this work they came across curious and amazing things: 300 deeds written with gold water, a deed executed a thousand years ago, and so on. It made an interesting and enjoyable reading either because it was actually so or due to my immersion in related research and writing. I mention a part of these contents hoping that the reader too would also enjoy reading them:      An immovable property was endowed for providing grass for the mule ridden by the Shaykh of al-'Azhar at that time.    

            A woman created a waqf of 3000 feddans (1 Egyptian feddan = 4200.833 sq. metre) for the benefit of the 'ulama' who followed Abu H. anlfah.      Some parha endowed 10,000 feddans for covering the graves of his relatives with branches of palm and myrtle.    

            A person endowed parts of his wealth for the water-carriers of the city mosque.    

            Another created a waqf for the reciter of the Friday sermon.    

            A lady created a waqf for providing ropes for pails used for supply ing water to a mosque.    

            A waqf for providing caftans and outer garments for old persons.    

            A waqf for incensing study sessions.  

             I remember having read in the past about a waqf inSyria whose income is used to buy new plates to replace th~se broken by maid servants to save them from the censure of their mistresses.    

            I have heard that in Homs there is a waqf for those who sight the new moon of the 'fd of Ramadan. For this reason there is a multi tude of claims of having sighted it in that region. There are also present waqfs in some villages of Jabal 'Amil for providing shrouds for the dead.  

             These waqfs, if they reveal anything, show the thinking prevailing at that time, the mode of living and habits of the society in which the waqifs lived, and that there were a large number of families who could not even provide their dead with a shroud.




NOTES:



      1. The difference between property purchased from the income of waqf and property purchased from the sale proceeds of a dilapidated waqf is noteworthy. In the former case, the property purchased will take the place of the waqf sold, while the property purchased from the Waqfs income will not take the position of a waqf.

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