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Historical Role of Islamic Waqf in Poverty Reduction in Muslim Society

Muhammad Tariq Khan

Since the emergence of the civilisation, poverty has been a big challenge and in present time, it is a worldwide spread problem. Poverty is an obnoxious situation when people are deprived from access to many things but most common of these are longevity (long and healthy life) health (adequate levels of health), nutrition (food), shelter (adequate housing), clothing, education, literacy, knowledge, water, sanitation, economic opportunity and economic resources and community participation, social relations, empowerment, security (safe living environment) social protection, social and other standards of their well-being, quality entertainment influence over their environment, and deprivation from other things that make a difference between truly living and merely living. It is now generally accepted that the poor have few assets (both tangible and intangible), are more vulnerable to different forms of risk, and are often at a lower end of a power continuum, with limited ability to influence policy and practice.

But in Islamic Society there are solutions of poverty problem suggested by Islam in the form of establishment of voluntary (Waqf, Sadaqat) and compulsory (Zakat) endowments. Establishing a waqf is the idea for the cause of humanity in the Muslim world. The waqf is a continuous charitable act for the sake of God and augmented by the prevailing spirit of altruism, which forms an integral part of the Islamic way of life. Muslims established various kinds of awqaf including those for, education and research, health care and public utilities. Awqaf for education also covered scientific research. In the Muslim world, many humanitarian projects today are operated through the institution of waqf such as building houses for the needy people, springs development for providing water for public consumption, helping the handicapped and the poor, building bridges, financing orphanages and homes for the elderly and financing the marriage of young people in need. History of awqaf is very rich with prominent achievements in enhancing the welfare in general and serving the poor in particular. This research study is dedicated to express the historical role Islamic waqf played in the reduction of poverty in Muslim world.