Direct link to scholarships offered by  Govt. of India

List of Private NGOs offering scholarships

Abu Marwan Abdal Malik Ibn Zuhr: ‘Avenzoar’

Abu Marwan Abdal Malik Ibn Zuhr, known in the west as Avenzoar, was

Ummid Assistant

AMU declares entrance test dates for its UPSC coaching centre

Welcome Guest! You are here: Home » Views & Analysis

Waqf Misuse, most systematically managed daylight robbery in India

Sunday March 20, 2011 08:00:46 PM, Firoz Bakht Ahmed

Related Articles

Software majors given Wakf lands, alleges MIM, demands probe

The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) today demanded in the Andhra pradesh Assembly a thorough probe into allotment of thousands of acres of Wakf land for various purposes by successive governments in the state.  »

‘Govt, Corporate Houses encroached over Waqf lands’

Outlook terms wakf misuse as the biggest land scam in Indian history

APMRF demands probe into Wakf land allotment

Waqf boards have almost institutionalised the tendency to wheel and deal in land donated in the name of God. Only a transparent system of management can extinguish the culture of corruption, nepotism and greed that is consuming waqf endowments in India, writes Firoz Bakht Ahmed

Waqf corruption in India can be said to symbolise the most systematically-managed daylight robbery in India, perpetrated over decades. Waqf boards have almost institutionalised the tendency to wheel and deal in land donated in the name of Allah by the affluent for the upkeep of orphans, widows, divorced women, educational and charitable purposes and other social causes.

Waqf endowments in India are staggering. There are around 800,000 registered properties and as much as 6,00,000 acres of land ~ the largest in the world. About 77 per cent of the city of Delhi has been founded on illegally-acquired waqf land. The CGO Complex, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi High Court, Delhi Public School (Mathura Road), Anglo Arabic School, newspaper offices at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg besides umpteen Central government offices can be seen standing on waqf land. These waqf plots were lost because waqif management laws are inadequate and the Central Waqf Council is a toothless body.

Meaning of Waqf
The concept of waqf is rooted in Quranic injunctions dealing with charity: “And in their wealth the beggar and outcast had due share.” (Chapter-26: Verse-19). Also, “Ye shall never attain to goodness till ye give alms of that which ye love, and whatever ye give, of a truth God Knoweth.” (Chapter-3: Verse-86). Islam’s followers borrowed this concept of charity to set up the institution of waqf. It forms an important branch of Muslim Law for it is interwoven with the religious life and social economy of Muslims.

Literally, waqf means endowment of moveable or immovable property by Muslims for the welfare of the poor and the needy and for maintaining properties dedicated to mosques, tombs, orphanages, shrines, imambaras, madrasas and the like. The waqif (settler), in his deed, appoints a mutawalli (manager or caretaker) for the administration of the waqf. The waqif has the right to appoint either himself or any Muslim as mutawalli. Waqf endowments can be made in any form as enshrined in Qazis Act II of 1864, Dargah Khwaja Saheb Act of 1955, Central Waqf Act of 1954, Waqf Amendment Act of 1959, UP Muslim Act of 1960, to name a few.

“For over a millennium, emperors, nawabs and Muslims in India have been setting aside property and pledging it in the name of Allah for charitable work. They wanted the earnings from the properties to go towards the upkeep of orphans, widows and for other social causes but the waqf boards are not doing their job honestly. At least Rs, 10,000 crore could be easily raised each year just from the rent paid for waqf properties that have not been encroached upon ~ that is 30 per cent of the entire endowment in India,” said Aziz Burney, the group editor of the Rashtriya Sahara Urdu publications. He said: “The legal cells are reluctant to move court to rid Waqf properties of encroachers. The most convenient refrain is ‘files have been lost’. Besides, lawyers of waqf boards are usually on the payroll of encroachers who have already constructed multi-storey complexes on waqf land and have sold them or leased them out for staggering profits.”

The Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Mr K Rahman Khan, said as per a report of a joint parliamentary committee headed by him, waqf land is only third in India in terms of quantum after tracts owned by Indian Railway and the defence ministry, respectively.

Glaring examples
How waqf has become an institution deeply mired in corruption can be gauged from the land scam perpetrated by the Maharashtra Waqf Board. It sold a 4,535 square-metre Waqf plot in the upmarket Altamount Road to Mr Mukesh Ambani for a mere Rs 21.05 crore in 2003 when its market value was not less than Rs 500 crore. Mr Ambani’s 27-storey home stands on the plot now.

Similarly, in Bangalore, the land on which Windsor Manor Hotel stands is worth more than Rs 600 crore but has been leased out to the promoters of the hotel for only Rs 12,000 a month.

Most waqf properties have managers who treat even heritage sites as their fief where they think nothing of developing commercial structures and even homes as has happened in the case of Dargah Khwaja Sa’adullah Naqshbandi at the historic heritage site of Anglo Arabic School at Ajmeri Gate in Delhi. The Delhi Development Authority had declared it a heritage site in 1994 and in response to a PIL (no. 8759 of 2004) filed by this author, Delhi High Court ordered the eviction of as many as 51 families who had encroached upon the heritage property. But former occupants, property dealers, smalltime politicians and local musclemen are trying to re-encroach largely, as is rumoured, with the backing of the Delhi Waqf Board chairman, Chaudhary Mateen Ahmed.

There are tenets which forbid the desecration of a widow’s dying wish in the matter of pledging property for waqf purposes. But that is done without remorse in most cases with the pledged land ending up in the possession of builders, smalltime politicians or land mafia. The ordinary Muslim holds waqf boards in too much esteem to think of seeking legal recourse despite being aware of the staggering corruption that feeds on them.

Such widespread corruption is also spawning a culture of extortion. An optical shop had been set up illegally on the premises of Fatehpuri Masjid after its owner got the necessary documents changed with the help of waqf and mosque caretakers. Some so-called social workers launched a tirade against the shop owner seeking his eviction but curiously changed their stance after money changed hands.

If not corruption, waqf boards are hamstrung by apathy. The waqf property of Dargah Baba Kapur near the border that Uttar Pradesh shares with Madhya Pradesh is spread over 550 villages. But not a single penny from the income from the property goes to the local waqf board. A pre-Independence era government department enjoys the largesse. Though locals have repeatedly urged the board to move court seeking restoration of funds for charitable purposes, it could be hardly bothered.

Hand in glove
“Politicians, police, bureaucrats and land mafia covet waqf property because those can be found mostly in prime locations. This, despite the fact that waqf property cannot be sold or it’s use altered for eternity. The interested parties have found ways to circumvent this obligation. Many such properties are leased out after pockets of the officials concerned have been sufficiently lined,” said the journalist, Aziz Burney.
Unfortunately, most of the corrupt officials who sit on waqf boards are Muslims well aware of the implications of violating pledges made for charitable purposes. A builder or businessman first identifies a Waqf property, approaches the members or chairman of the local board and acquires it for a pittance after bribing the board members. Lack of accountability and a defined law in this regard come to their aid. Thousands of mosques and even graveyards have been encroached upon likewise across the country. “In spite of owning property spanning 600,000 acres, Muslims are one of the poorest communities in India,” said eminent historian and scholar Prof Mushirul Hasan.

The waqf boards invariably have members who are puppets in the hands of the state governments, which are instrumental in installing them in the first place. As such, most are clueless about waqf management and relevant laws. According to Mr Iqbal Mohammed Malak, a social worker in Delhi, people aiming to make it big in politics generally target waqf properties and funds donated at holy shrines.

Theologically, once properties are dedicated in the name of Allah and waqf endowments made, the donation becomes perpetual, irrevocable and inalienable and as such, a waqf entitlement always remains a waqf entitlement.

During Muslim rule in India, there was no central body to look after waqf properties. In British India, all endowments, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, were managed by provincial governments. In post-Independent India, the Central Waqf Council is responsible for the management of Waqf properties. But it’s glaring inefficacy, though exposed innumerable times earlier, scaled new heights when Delhi High Court ordered a probe into the embezzlement of funds by the Ajmer Dargah Khwaja Saheb Committee.

In Ajmer, of the umpteen waqf properties listed in the Dargah Khawja Saheb Act of 1955, Jannat Hotel had been leased for 15 years to Qayyum Khan. While the monthly market rent at that time had been Rs 100,000, the Dargah committee decided to charge only Rs 10,000 every month. The lease deed (of which the author has a copy) signed on 18 August, 1999 bore the signature of Prof Akhtarul Wasey, the Dargah committee president at that time. Any Dargah lease that goes beyond 5 years is deemed illegal as the committee is required to look for a better-paying tenant every three or five years so that the upkeep of the Dargah is not affected. The nine-member committee was dissolved after the author submitted a 70-page report to Delhi High Court pointing out the discrepancies.

Where’s piety?
Possession of piety, honesty, Islamic scholarship, a good family background and sound knowledge of Sharia (Islamic Laws) is necessary to be considered for the post of mutawalli or waqf administrator. “Unfettered power that comes with the position often leads a mutawalli to corruption and nepotism,” said Masoom Muradabadi, editor of the Delhi-based Urdu weekly Khabardar Jadid. Mr Imtiaz Ahmad Khan, a former chairman of the Delhi Waqf Board, points out in his book What is Waqf? how Sultan Alauddin Khilji had sacked and punished a mutawalli, Sheikh Hassan, after allegations of defalcation of waqf funds against him had been found to be true.

In modern India, when upright officials seek a probe, the district administration is more often than not interested, insisting that removal of encroachments may lead to law-and-order or communal problems. “Most waqf board members have little or no community feeling or sense of accountability,” president of Zakat Foundation of India Prof. Zafar Mahmood said.

Seeking a solution
Mr Asif Mohammed Khan, the RJD legislator for Okhla in Delhi, who is fighting against encroachment on a graveyard in his constituency, said the need of the hour was greater involvement of the Muslim community in waqf affairs.

The Sachar Committee suggests an overhaul of the waqf board structure as the current system does not serve well to attract the right kind of people to the job of Waqf management. The panel mooted an Indian waqf Service on the lines of the Indian Administrative Service whose officers would work as chief executive officers (CEOs) of waqf boards. The panel pointed out that in UP, one CEO, as it were, was a Unani practitioner with little or no exposure to management practices while another in Shillong had not even cleared the school board examination.
There is a growing demand in the community for dissolving the current waqf boards and replacing them with a new umbrella organisation which will have sub-committees to look after education, welfare of widows, medical needs of the community, mosques, dargahs and the like. But what is even more important is that it should be done without foresaking transparency, accountability and empathy.

The writer is an activist and a commentator on social and religious issues .

This article first appeared in The Statesman







  Bookmark and Share                                          Home | Top of the Page


Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of

Comments powered by DISQUS




Top Stories

Minority Panel chief says can't do much on release of Muslim youths; Khurshid silent

Even as the demand to release the Muslim youths was vociferously raised by Maharashtra State Minority Commission at   »

Maha minority panel to demand Muslim youths' release at National meet

  Jail Bharo Tehreek now looks certain in Malegaon


  Most Read

48 killed as Western forces target Libyan air defence, Gaddafi defiant

At least 48 people were killed and 150 others wounded in air strikes carried out by coalition forces to enforce a UN resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, Xinhua reported Sunday   »

Autonomy recommendations fuel political debate in Kashmir

The reported recommendation to restore some autonomous powers to Jammu and Kashmir has fuelled a predictable political debate, with opponents suggesting it would create more confusion than solve problems in the troubled state. According to reports, the government appointed interlocutors    »


  News Pick

United colours of Holi splash India

Green, magenta, red, yellow, purple - clouds of coloured gulal, smiling faces smeared with them, joyful dancing  »

Hindus, Muslims celebrate 'Holi Baraat'

Indian pays blood money, saves four countrymen in Saudi Arabia

An Indian entrepreneur in Qatar offered "blood money" to save the lives of four of his countrymen sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia, a media report said Sunday. Cheril Krishna Menon, a businessman based in the Qatar   »

English or Konkani: Goa debates on what to use in schools

Lawmakers and parents in Goa are debating whether English or mother tongue Konkani should be the medium of instruction (MOI) in schools upto Class 8. Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate told the Goa legislative    »

BJP faces WikiLeaks heat on India-US deal

The target of the latest WikiLeaks expose, the BJP Saturday dismissed reports that its leaders had adopted different stands in their public declarations and private conversations on the India-US nuclear deal   »

Quake-hit Japanese towns overwhelmed with bodies

Quake and tsunami ravaged communities in northeastern Japan struggled to cope with an influx of bodies Saturday while a glimmer of hope was short-lived when news of a rescue from the rubble eight days after the quake   »


Picture of the Day

President of India Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil addressing at the inauguration of the National Festival of Tribal Dances, ‘PRAKRITI’, in New Delhi on March 16, 2011. Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Culture, Kum. Selja, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Kantilal Bhuria and Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Mahadev S. Khandela are also seen.

(Photo: Mukesh Kumar)



RSS  |  Contact us

| Quick links



Subscribe to

Ummid Assistant






About us




Government Schemes











Contact us





      Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.

© 2010 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.