Friday, December 25, 2009

Central Madrasa Board: An Attempt To Occupy More Waqf Properties

The apprehension expressed in the article that madaris under Central Madrasah Board will become government property, is based on a condition applied in Bihar that any madrasah under Bihar State Madrasah Board will have to be registered in the name of the governor. Nevertheless, Mr. Kapil Sibal did not mention the same condition.
The ongoing Central Madrasah Board debate while covering myriad aspects neglects a very important one. Madaris, plural of madrasah, are Waqf properties and hence cannot be used for any purpose contradicting the wish of the Waqif (donor).
In India, according to an estimate, there exist 1, 00,000 plus madaris and majority of them are run as minority institutions without gover
nment interfering in their management. A madrasah literally means ‘a place of education’ but nowadays it refers to the institutions imparting religious education to Muslim students. Any Muslim intending to pursue complete and comprehensive knowledge of his religion has no option but to resort to madaris; the largest NGO imparting free of cost education.
Madaris lands- besides those of hospitals, musafirkhanas, mosques, graveyards and dargahs- were donated by Muslim kings and landlords for the religious purpose. Their main objective was to equip the students with deep knowledge of the teachings of Islam.
The usage of the properties for a cause not serving Islam definitely goes against the will of the person who had made donation of the land. The managers of Waqf properties too, have no authority of letting the land be utilized for a cause going against the will of Waqif. The introduction of the Central Madrasa Board is supposed to pave the way for illegal occupation by the government over madaris and thereby harming the real end behind the endowment (waqf).
The Arabic word Waqf, literally meaning ‘to tie down’, implies to a form of property donation by Muslim individuals and institutions in the name of Allah for the benefit of the poor in the community. Waqf is a form of continuous charity (sadaqah jariyah), and the rewards for this type of charity continue even after the donor's death - for as long as people continue to benefit from the Waqf. In Waqf, the corpus cannot be inherited, sold, gifted, mortgaged, rented, lent, etc. because the subsequent transformation of the property for another cause not benefiting people will harm the very spirit of ‘continuous charity’. Waqf land will remain devoted only to the purpose mentioned by the waqif. Madaris, being Waqf properties, are no exemption in this regard.
Once, madaris are affiliated to the Central Madrasah Board the guarantee of them rendering religious service will elude. To take an example, the proposed CMB bill while giving no clarifications as to the concentration will be given on religious education, mentions in the list of subjects to be taught ‘philosophy’ instead of ‘Fiqh’. The centre by introducing the board, is trying to occupy also the Waqf lands devoted to madaris and then exploit them as per their will.
A startling 70% of Waqf properties have already been encroached upon by the government and some private corporate sectors. What the Sachar Committee report reveals is that the registered Waqfs all over India are 4.9 lakh and they cover around 6 lakh acres. A considerable number of them are located in city centres and their market value can be more than 1.2 lakh crore (1,200 billion) against the book value Rs 6,000 crore. Yet, the current income from these properties is only about Rs. 163 crores which amounts to a meagre rate of return of 2.7 per cent. The deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, K. Rahman Khan has said that the Waqf boards are the third-largest landholder after the railways and defence.
The government must manage first to remove the encroachments over the Waqf properties already registered. This revenue alone will supply adequate funds required for the educational, economical and social uplift of Muslims.
Muslims cannot take risk of handing over the madrasa lands to the government and then see them too being exploited by the government officials. Declination of education status and negligence towards Islamic subjects are common in the madaris already affiliated to state madrasah boards. A waqif will surely be repenting over his decision to donate the land for madaris if they happen to see the situation.

By: Mufti Zafeeruddin Qasmi

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