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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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MNP to decide on going to court over Villimale’ WDC by-election

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Maldives National Party (MNP) has stated a decision will be made soon on going to court over concerns related to the Women’s Development Committee (WDC) by-election held for Villimale’ constituency in Male’ City.

The by-election, which was held on May 14, was contested by candidates from MNP and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). The election was won by PPM’s Fathimath Nazima with 359 votes, just one vote ahead of MNP’s candidate Aminath Sheeza who received 358 votes.

Speaking at a press conference, Vice President of MNP Ahmed Usham said the party has some valid concerns over the way ballots were counted in some polling stations. Usham stated there were inconsistencies in declaring null or invalid votes at different stations, noting ballots at some stations were counted out due to an additional line on the ballot paper while ballots with the same issue were counted as valid in other stations. He said the party is thinking of going to court over the case, and would be making a decision after the case is fully analysed.

Following the by-election, MNP requested a recount of the ballots to confirm the result. After reviewing MNP’s request, ECM decided to recount two ballots which received complaints during the vote. However, after recounting the two ballots, ECM stated there is no issue that would lead to a change of results.

 

Source: psmnews

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Dr. Ahmed Shaheed: Solih administration joins ranks of most repressive governments, time to CMAG Maldives?

Hamdhan Shakeel

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Former Maldivian Foreign Minister and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Dr. Ahmed Shaheed has stated that the Solih administration has joined the most repressive governments.

Following yesterday’s arrest of key activists associated with the India Out campaign which seeks to expel the Indian military forces in the Maldives and the ensuing protest and arrests last night, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed took to Twitter to express his disapproval of the Solih administration’s suppression of people’s right to freedom of expression.

In his Tweet, the former Foreign Minister state that “if the news reports of arrests to suppress dissent against Indian military presence in Maldives is true, this government has joined the ranks of the most repressive governments in Maldives”.

He also questioned whether it is time to add the Government of Maldives to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group’s agenda.

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Police attacks on Media contributes to decline in accountability and democratic backsliding.

Hamdhan Shakeel

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Staff Sergeant Solih is alleged to have threatened local media on the night of 18 May 2022.

The recent rallies and protest calling for the removal of Indian military forces in the Maldives has one undeniable fact, that the Maldives Police Service has become highly critical of local media outlets.

The advent of democracy marked the ushering in of a new era where unlike the yesteryears of Maumoon and his predecessors, the public were free to criticize and call for reform within the government and military forces. No longer were the police able to arrest people in the middle of the night and hold them in solitary confinement till a verdict is passed against them in a highly politicized judiciary.

Just as with every other sate institution, the police were held accountable, senior officers were prosecuted for their actions. Massive reform was made within the institution to hold them accountable and to develop a modern police force.

However, following the appointment of the former officer Mohamed Hameed who had been dismissed for leaking intelligence documents, as the Commissioner of Police, the whole institution has undergone a dramatic backsliding in its reform and development.

As a member of the press, we deal with the Police on a daily basis, submitting queries on a wide range of cases. Maldives Police Service has always not been on much good terms with the media thanks to their apparent prejudice that the media is the antithesis to the police in executing their duties during protest and rallies. However, under Commissioner Mohamed Hameed, the Maldives Police Service has adopted an unprecedented stand against media, actively barring media from covering domestic events.

Echoing the Maumoon era police brutality, the Solih administration has also utilized the Police to cover the brutality towards protestors and the media. Several high-profile attacks on the media has been brought to the attention of international media organizations such as RSF. However, this does not even remotely do justice for the countless attacks against the press, as they too perform their duty.

Their alienation and refusal to cooperate with the fourth estate is evident from their official police media group where the police repeatedly decline to even comment on any query by the press, only releasing statements and other messages they see fit.

Unforeseen to he general public, this poses a serious threat to the fundamental checks and balances in the democratic system where state institutions with overwhelming powers are kept in balance by independent state institutions and the fourth estate. In this case, the police’s refusal to cooperate nor allow the media to freely operate and cover political and other protests pose a direct threat to and contribute to the democratic backsliding in the Maldives, by removing the element of accountability from the equation.

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