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Waqf as empowerment of communities and development

Waqf as empowerment of communities and development
August 21, 2020
August 21, 2020 August 21, 2020

ZEINOUL ABEDIEN CAJEE argues that there are many ways to become an empowered and strong community.

WAQF is a powerful medium or mechanism to empower communities.

In the context of community development, empowerment can be defined as a process by which members of a community organise themselves to mobilise, own, control, invest, and manage their collective resources.

This will enable and lead to community resilience and self-reliance to pursue community concerns, needs and objectives, and also actualise and realise them.

On the other hand, to be disempowered is to lack resources – whether financial or social, capacities, abilities, to be deprived of rights, to be leaderless – whether individually or collectively.

We have seen how communities have been decimated by land deprivation, educational deprivation, family structure destruction, economic resource theft, eco-system destruction in many communities by tyrannical governments.

To be disempowered is to be relegated to slavery, to be the underdog, to be the oppressed, to be the beggar, and to be denied human dignity.

So, if a community wants to be in charge of its own destiny, protect its valuable human and material resources, its culture and traditions, its environment, intellectual legacy, its security then it has to pursue a course of action that will be empowering rather than disempowering.

To be empowered is to have the capacity to do good, to be resilient, to avert oppression, to be benevolent and to pursue social justice.

Abu Huraira (RA) reported Allah’s Messenger (SAW) as saying: ‘A strong believer is better and is more lovable to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone…’

A further question may be asked: In which way should a believer be strong?

There are many ways to be strong: physical strength; courage and fearlessness; strength in character, values, spirit, morals and ethics, imaan and/or faith; strong in stature, dignity, human rights, and being responsible and accountable.

We can be strong individually, as family, as a neighbourhood or collectively, as community and as ummah.

We can be strong intellectually with a great culture of learning, reading, research and writing; by having a strong economic base in various sectors of the economy – businesses, industries, property, agriculture, mining, technology, healthcare, leisure, recreation; in sport and recreation; in science and technology; in being creative in finding solutions to human and environmental problems and issues; and in having highly qualified members of the community who are also in high demand by the public for their excellent and committed service to the community – as indispensable.

We can be strong in leadership and management. And more.

Allah commands in Surah Aale Imraan: ‘O you who have attained faith, persevere in patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other and be conscious of God, that you may prosper.’ (3:200)

Furthermore, Allah commands in Surah al-Anfal: ‘And prepare for them what you can of strength [of arms] and horses tethered [for battle]…’ (8:60)

The above verse exhorts believers to prepare in whichever way possible of power and strength – even military strength.

There are many ways to become an empowered and strong community. One tried and tested way is the waqf system – mobilisation, own, control and manage our collective resources.

Today, it is our collective duty – those who have the capacity and the means – that each of us should become contributors to the cause of Allah.

The waqf way is the most powerful and enduring way to mobilise our collective resources.

Let every Muslim family in every village, town and city contribute a minimum of R100 per family (or R20 per person per month).

Let’s do the sums:

100 000 families: (average five persons per family, at R20 per person per month) (R100 per family per month) 100 000 X R100 = R10 000 000 per month X 12 = R120 000 000 per annum.

In 8,3 years, the ummah would have a collective fund of R1billion. Can you imagine in 20 – 50 years? Can you imagine if all Muslim families in South Africa become contributors to our central waqf fund?

Is this achievable? A resounding ‘yes’ from many that we have spoken to. Would this not make the Muslim ummah in South Africa a formidable force?

As a result of this capital mobilisation, we would, as a community, wipe out poverty within the ummah. We would ensure that every Muslim child has the best tarbiyyah and education.

We would strive to have adequate housing, healthcare and security, and we would be able to make great contributions in all spheres of South African life: poverty elimination, addressing inequalities, food and water security projects and dawah centres.

We could have a strong media presence, building schools and clinics, develop future youth leaders, fostering social cohesion and promoting positive ideals … and any imaginable contribution to developing and empowering communities.

If each one of us joins hands to strengthen our collective resources, indeed we will be able to achieve unimaginable feats and restore the greatness of the ummah of Rasoolullah (SAW) – all for the pleasure of Allah.

But we need to shift focus and shift gear to the most sacred, powerful, sustainable voluntary Islamic charity. Awqaf SA is leading and showing the way – the waqf way, the empowerment way towards community solidarity and community sovereign funds.

Zeinoul Abedien Cajee is the CEO of Awqaf SA.

 This article was first published in the July 2020 print edition of Muslim Views.

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