National Student Waqf Drive aims to alleviate poverty in education and reduce state dependency


Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail|15 March 2017| 16 Jumadul Aakhir 1438

AWQAF South Africa, a charitable organisation based on the Islamic tradition of waqf – which is a perpetual trust held in the name of God whose capital or asset base cannot be eroded, traded or used for personal profit – had a successful launch of their National Student Waqf Drive campaign over the weekend (11 March).

The campaign is aimed at creating a long-term waqf capital fund, its profits from the investment capable of contributing positively to the overall funding of education in the country’s schools.

Waqf is a social upliftment mechanism first introduced by the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century when one of his companions, ‘Umar, bought land in Khyber (in modern-day Saudi Arabia) and the Prophet told him to make its produce a benefit for the poor. ‘Umar then decreed that the property could not be sold, inherited or given away as a gift.

Waqf became a major driver of civil society during the Islamic era, the Turkish Ottoman Caliphate – for example – only having to spend state funds on its judiciary and military. The waqf trusts looked after things such as mosques, schools, universities, roads, water supplies, markets, feeding schemes, libraries and even pigeon coops.

“The magic of waqf is its long-term ability to reduce state dependency. Its beauty is its permanency, and the fact that the original investment or asset remains inviolable and intact until the end of time. Waqf is a sovereign fund of the community tended by the community in the name of the community,” says Zeinoul Abedien Cajee, one of Awqaf’s founders in 2000.

Since then, Awqaf SA has been involved in projects such as boreholes, schools, leadership training, green buildings, maths literacy, educational publications and small business development. Awqaf SA’s work has not gone unnoticed. It garnered top honours at the 2nd Islamic Economy Awards in Dubai 2015.

At the launch of the National Student Waqf Drive held at Islamia College in Landsdowne, Awqaf Board chairperson, Haroon Kalla, said the aim of the project was to empower learners. By contributing to a central investment fund, not only could they become the architects of their destiny, but eventually not be a burden on the state.

The idea that learners, via contributing schools, would be encouraged to open up a waqf account with R100 seed funding was an encouraging start to Awqaf, and the community, being a major contributor to education.

Quoting the Qur’anic verse that says God only helps a people who help themselves, Kalla said such was the power of waqf that if 60,000 people invested R1,000 a month, R60 million could be raised a month, R720 million in a year.

Within 30 years such a waqf scheme could be the foundation for not only uplifting society, but eliminating poverty.

Applauding the news that the National Student Waqf Drive had attracted 10,000 learners nation-wide in 24 hours, guest speaker Advocate Hafiz Abu Baker – a former acting high court judge – said that participants would realise dignity and self-esteem, and would understand and appreciate the dynamics of giving and receiving benefit.

“The blessing of this project is for those who contribute to it and follow it. This pebble thrown into the pond, we hope, will become a wave (of change),” he said.

At the well-attended function, Awqaf SA announced that 22 schools and 10, 000 learners had already come on board, with Islamia College in Cape Town pledging R 170, 000 towards the drive.

Yusuf Atcha, principal of the Leadership College in Manenberg and one of the participating schools, said that the National Student Waqf Drive was a tremendous breakthrough for the transaction of knowledge.

“This means great benefits for children in disadvantaged areas. This is a collective benefit. When a child is freed from costs and given the best of education it affects the whole family, even their quality of life.”

Shaykh Igshan Taliep, rector of the International Peace College of South Africa (IPSA) said that educational institutions, particularly private ones, faced a continual battle for sustainability. The National Student Waqf Drive could go a long way to alleviating this ongoing anxiety that ultimately affected service delivery.

Written By Shafiq Morton
Contact: Mickaeel Collier, Deputy CEO (082 216 4269)

Hafiz Abu Bakr
Haroon Kalla