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Potential of Waqf to Finance the Social Development Projects.

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Ministry of Islamic Affairs is the executive body responsible in Maldives to carry out religious tasks and waqf is also regulated by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. The concept of immovable waqf is not common in Male’ as land is a scarce resource and further, the Land Act prohibits land in Male’, to be declared as waqf. In this regard, it is observed that Section 37 of the Land Act states: (a) any land in the Maldives or any fixed assets on such a land can be declared to be a religious endowment only if declaring it to be a religious endowment does not conflict with government policies on land use for the particular island and this shall further be subjected to the attainment of a written approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Housing and Environment; (b) land or fixed assets on a land in Male’ cannot be declared as religious endowments. However, it is imperative to note that waqf is an Islamic social finance institution and a tool that could be utilized for the social developments of islands without relying on the government budget to support such causes.

What is Waqf?

Waqf (Islamic endowment) is an Islamic social financial institution which is also considered as a redistributive institution. Though the term “waqf” is not found in Quran, Muslim jurists have derived its legitimacy from various sources of Islamic law including Quran and Sunnah. There are two kinds of waqf: immovable waqf and movable waqf which is cash waqf that has been approved by the Islamic scholars.  Irrevocability, perpetuity and inalienability are essential conditions to create a waqf. The purpose in which waqf has been utilized is not limited only to religious matters; but it can be used for any purpose which is beneficial to the society that does not contradict with the tenets of Islamic law. Waqf is known as a sadaqat jariyah (on-going charity) while sadaqat is known as a one-time charity that could be given to any type of beneficiary identified by the giver at any time. Waqf is also different from zakat. Zakat is the third pillar of Islam which is compulsory for all eligible Muslims to pay to the legal beneficiaries mentioned in Quran. As such, zakat is a due right on specific items of assets/properties, in specific percentages with consideration of the passage of a year (hawl) and the satisfaction of nisab.

Awqaf Sector of Maldives

There are only two cash waqf funds established by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. They are the Religious Awareness Waqf Fund and the Mosque Waqf fund. These two funds are maintained in a Public Trust Account formed under the Public Finance Act 2006. There is a Trust Committee set up to specifically deal with the funds and the ultimate supervisor of the fund in the Ministry of Finance & Treasury. Dharul Eeman Waqf project is an innovative waqf project successfully implemented by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs where the Ministry has developed a building on a land and has dedicated all the revenue received from renting of the building to Mosque waqf fund. By doing this, the Ministry intends to have enough financial capability to renovate mosques every year without waiting the government to approve funding for the purpose. Due to weak governance, though the project faced issued in implementing it as anticipated, it is hoped that the Ministry would be able to resolve governance issued and implement the project in a sustainable manner.

 Sustainable Waqf Models for Island Councils to finance Social Development Projects

Island councils can play a leading role in reviving waqf in the country for social development activities. Below are some successful ways in which other countries in the world has implemented waqf for the purpose and the same approach could be customized and replicated in Maldives.

  • Waqf Share Scheme (successfully practiced in Malaysia, Indonesia, Kuwait and the UK): In waqf share scheme, any specified institutions appointed by the government may establish this scheme and become the mutawalli (trustee). The appointed trustee will issue waqf shares in different values and sell the shares to donors for a specific project. The donors can buy the shares according to their affordability. The donors will receive cash waqf certificates as evidence of purchasing the waqf shares of the specified amount for the specified project. The amount collected from the sale of waqf shares will be managed by the trustee in terms of investment of the funds. The revenue generated from the investment will be used for financing the specified projects.
  • Waqf Share Scheme (successfully practiced in Singapore): In this scheme, Muslim employees’ salaries are deducted through the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board, i.e. Singapore’s national social security organisation. Monthly contributions of between USD$1 and USD$7 are made by Muslim employees. The amount of deduction depends on the Muslim employee’s monthly gross salary. The salaries of the Muslim employees are automatically deducted through an automatic check-off system whereby the salary is deducted by their employer and channelled through the CPF with Majlis Ugama Islam Singapore (MUIS) as the collecting agent. The collected amount is to finance charitable purposes such as building and maintaining mosques, funding educational programmes and building da’wah centres.
  • Corporate Waqf Scheme (successfully practiced in Malaysia, Turkey, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh): In this scheme, first founder, either a private or public corporation known as the mother corporation/main founder, will establish an associated waqf institution as the trustee. The main founder will ask all its subsidiaries to contribute part of their profits or dividends to the corporate waqf on a regular basis, besides calling other donors such as individuals, companies and institutions to contribute cash waqf to this associated waqf institution. The associated waqf institution, in its role as the trustee, will manage and invest the accumulated cash waqf from the different contributors. The revenue generated is then channelled to the specific project after operational expenses have been deducted
  • Waqf Takaful Model (successfully practiced in in South Africa and Pakistan): In this model, Takaful operator donates a seed fund to establish a Waqf fund for the product/policy. On a monthly basis, premium contributions made by participants are split into two portions – a portion for tabarru’ contribution to Waqf fund and a portion to participants’ risk account. The appropriation (based on percentage of premium contributed) shall be decided and agreed upfront between the takaful operator and participants. Any takaful claims will only be paid/deducted from the participants’ risk account while any surpluses will be credited back into the same account. Both Waqf fund and participants’ risk account will be invested in Shariah compliant instruments to generate returns where the return from the participants’ risk accounts will be credited back to the account. Returns from the waqf fund however, will be channelled to the waqf beneficiaries as approved by the takaful operator’s Shariah Committee. In the event of death, the deceased’s beneficiaries will be compensated with the takaful benefit from the participants’ risk account. No further amount is paid on behalf of the deceased to the Waqf fund (hence, the contribution to waqf fund is limited to the amount contributed while the participant is alive).

 Conclusion

Apart from the above described waqf models, there are many other successful waqf models practiced in the world as well. The other successful waqf models that could be considered are: cash Waqf-linked Sukuk; Cash Waqf Deposit Product; MyWakaf Initiative; Waqf Fund Model for Education; Waqf Unit Trust Fund; and Waqf Using Blockchain Technology. It is anticipated that the stakeholders of waqf in Maldives will try to revive waqf in the country by adopting the contemporary application of it.

Dr. Aishath Muneeza is an Associate Professor at the International Center for Education in Islamic Finance. 

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Top10 students need to become teachers: Dr. Aishath Ali

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Education Minister Dr. Aishath Ali has stated that students who were placed in the Top 10 need to become teachers and educators.

She made the statement speaking in the Top Achiever’s Award 2019 ceremony, held Sunday night.

In her address, the Minister said that Maldives had the capacity to press ahead in academic endeavors, and one of the ways to do this was to invest in teachers. Therefore, she said, it was imperative that the best minds present head towards teaching and educating.

The Minister said that in the past 30 years, several thousand Maldivians had been placed in the global top ten. Success, she added, was not solely dependent on academic achievement but also on how much one contributed to the society and country.

Dr. Aishath further commended the parents for their unwavering belief in their children and the innumerable sacrifices.

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Maldives to host an annual invitational football tournament

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Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof says that the President has instructed him to host an annual invitational football tournament.

Speaking to the press, Minister Mahloof said the success of the Oooredoo SAFF Championship highlighted the passion the country has toward football. This, he said, was the core factor for the success of the tournament. Based on this, the Minister said that the President had given a recommendation that the Maldives must host an annual invitational tournament.

Mahloof did not reveal additional details. However, he said that Bassam Adeel Jaleel, President of the Football Association of the Maldives, we’re hammering out the details.

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President says government stands ready to support all students to achieve their ambitions in their field of choice

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President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has stated that his government has and will continue to stand ready to fully support all students to achieve their career ambitions in their field of choice. The President made this statement tonight at the official awarding ceremony for A-Level Top Achievers of 2019 held at Thaajuddeen School. President Solih said that the students, now graduates, are at an important crossroads where they have to contemplate and decide on the road to take for their future. He urged students to make full use of the higher education and training opportunities offered to them by the government, in the Maldives or abroad, and fulfil their dreams in their field of choice.

President Solih congratulated all the top achievers who received awards, naming them the true guests of honour at the ceremony tonight. He stated that in addition to the students, their educators, including teachers, lead teachers and principals, and parents also deserve praise and appreciation for enabling the students to reach their dreams. The President extended his gratitude to all educators and parents for their diligence in helping the younger generations achieve their potential.

Speaking further, President Solih advised students to align their goals with the fast pace of today’s world, utilising modern technology and science for innovation and out-of-the-box thinking to create openings and develop themselves in professions that hold their interest. He urged students to aim to use the tools and opportunities available to them in today’s modern world in innovative and creative ways rather than chasing after a specific job immediately following graduation. The President described diversity and innovation as crucial for swift economic and national development, calling on parents and educators to foster creativity and innovative thinking in whichever field holds the childs’ interests.

President Solih also underlined the central role of teachers and educators in the nation, stating that there are 9119 teachers in the Maldives today; 6498 permanent Maldivian teachers, 1730 expatriate teachers and 891 temporary teachers. He expressed concern that the number of temporary teachers is on the rise, and that a lack of interest in the teaching field could lead to students not receiving the ideal education and nurture they need to achieve their individual dreams. He revealed that the government aims to conduct research into the state of the education sector and teaching vocation to determine the reason for the scarcity of permanent Maldivian educators. He further urged more Maldivians to join the vocation, stating that the younger generations need Maldivian teachers who can train them in the holy principles of Islam and foster future generations of innovative, empathetic and patriotic individuals.

Concluding his statement, President Solih entreated parents and teachers to support the government to shape the younger generations into creative thinkers who can surmount the challenges of the 21st Century, praying to Almighty Allah to bless the efforts.

First Lady Fazna Ahmed and Vice President Faisal Naseem accompanied the President in conferring certificates and awards to the top achievers at tonight’s ceremony.

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