“Is the Family Waqf a Religious Institution?” Charity, Religion, and Economy in French Mandate Lebanon

In: Islamic Law and Society
Author: Nada Moumtaz1
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This essay analyzes a debate among Muslim jurists in French Mandate Syria and Lebanon around whether the family waqf, a form of charitable endowment dedicated to the founder’s family, is a legitimate form of the waqf and whether it should be abolished. I argue that the new categorization of the family waqf as a deviation from real charitable giving was informed by new conceptions of the economy, religion, and charity. Because the debate was among Muslim legal scholars, it also allows us to examine modern changes in the Islamic legal tradition. I show how the debate displays the use of new scientific styles of reasoning among Muslim jurists in the derivation of rules, thereby transforming the legal tradition without rupturing it.

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