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Islamic jurisprudence and scriptural tradition have numerous compulsory and voluntary obligations to provide a safety net for the less fortunate in their communities. One particularly important instrument for solidarity and social development is the establishment of waqf (charitable trust or pious endowed property). Among many charitable faith-based organizations and institutions, waqf is an important option available to devout Muslims concerned with care for the poor and the earth, closeness to and love of God, as well as love of kin and neighbour. In this paper, I first present the institution of waqf and how it functioned historically. Second, I point to the crucial role of women as founders and managers of waqf. Third, I examine waqf amidst the whirlwind of modernity and colonialism. In conclusion, I affirm the significance of waqf today for Muslim societies in difficult political and socio-economic situations.

Open Access
In: Religion and Development