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How Waqf, Zakat can boost infrastructural needs of Nigeria

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Chairman of Jaiz Zakat and Waqf Trust Foundation, Imam Abdullahi Shuaib: Photos: Twitter.


Islamic poverty alleviating tools, Waqf and Zakat have been described as a veritable tool to solve the infrastructure deficit and improve the social well being of the citizenry.

Waqf is an endowment made by a Muslim to a religious, educational, or charitable cause. It is an essential tool towards achieving socio-economic development, while Zakat, the giving of alms to the poor and needy, is one of the five pillars of Islam.Financial experts in the field of Islamic endowment who spoke at the University of Lagos Muslim Community (UMC) Quarterly Public Lecture, said the tools are designed for the socio-economic development of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities and therefore should be wholly adopted by Nigerians.

They agreed that Waqf and Zakat are instrumental in funding sophisticated community empowerment initiatives and has the potential of solving many of the present day challenges. Speaking on the theme: ‘Islamic Endowment (Waqf) in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects of an Unexplored Heritage’ the UMC Chairman, Professor Lai Olurode said Nigerians have failed to exploit the tools for poverty reduction in the polity.He said: “This part of the world, we are ignorant (of Zakat particularly). The theory is there, but the practical is in deficit.

There’s no way to sustain Zakat as a key tenet of Islam other than to practice it. Muslims are rich, but we are very poor. That’s a paradox. We are here to see how we can reconcile our irony of rich but poor. We want to take action on how to invest in education, tackle endemic poverty and bridge the gap between Waqf and Zakat deficit.”

The Chairman of Zakat and Endowment Committee of Sokoto, Dr. Muhammad Lawal Maidoki, noted that in many societies, Waqf-based institutions were the sole providers of education, health care, water resources and support for the poor and even for the welfare of animals without any state intervention.

While explaining the models of the Islamic endowment, he said the models cut across governmental-based created by federal or a state government, emirate-based, NGO-based and mosque-based platforms.He argued that Waqf concept is not a religious agenda but an essential instrument of combatting endemic poverty and economic adversities worldwide.

“Waqf has worked perfectly in many countries of the world. It is currently working in Indonesia, Thailand, Sudan, Turkey among others,” he stated.He called for the enforcement of Waqf laws and establishment of a National Board of Waqf Administration, adding that the Muslim majority states should consider it in their developmental programmes.

Chairman of Jaiz Zakat and Waqf Trust Foundation, Imam Abdullahi Shuaib, expressed optimism that the Nigerian constitution recognises the operation of Waqf. He said,”Waqf derives legal backing from Sections 262 (1), 272 (2), 39 (1) paragraph 9, 2nd Schedule part 2. Section 41 of the Land Use Act of Nigeria. Impressively, these sections of the constitution also allows for the Sharia Court of Appeal to set up in any state that wishes to. The goal of zakat is not different from Waqf.

Noting that the Islamic endowment is a responsibility of the government, Shuaib said economic melt down or recession doesn’t affect it provided the sources are not tampered with.“Waqf is investment for the future and accumulation of productive wealth that benefits the future generations. One of the challenges is that some governments have the legal backing but they fail to enforce it,” he said.

But, going forward, he said there is need for the establishment of Waqf Management Committees at various levels in Nigeria to handle the administration of waqf. Former Chief Imam of UNILAG, Prof. Murtala Bidmus stressed that it was about time Muslims began to work out actionable plan that will yield meaningful transformation in the next two decades.

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