Assalamualaikum ustaz. What are the advantages of wakaf compared to other charities?
Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,
Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.
Allah SWT states:
لَن تَنَالُوا الْبِرَّ حَتَّىٰ تُنفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ ۚ وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِن شَيْءٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ
“Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allah] from that which you love. And whatever you spend – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.” 
Wakaf is one of the worships to get closer to Allah SWT. Wakaf symbolizes the purity of the faith for the people who give in wakaf, his inclination towards good, his determination to preserve welfare and love for the Muslim ummah.
The terminology wakaf lexically means to stop (السكن), prevent (المنع) and halt (الحبس).  Wakaf lexically also means impeding something from being traded and others (الْحَبْسُ عَنِ التَّصْرِفِ). The word wakaf, tahbis (تَحْبِيسُ) and tasbil (تَسْبِيل) have the same meaning. With this meaning, in most Arab countries, the Ministry of Wakaf Affairs is called (وِزَارًةُ الاَوْقَافِ). Only in Morocco, it is called (وِزَارَةُ الاَحْبَاسِ).
Jurists agreed to define wakaf lexically with “al-Habs” which means halting something, for it is the closest to the meaning by syarak. This is based on a hadith from Saidina Umar RA, the Rasullullah PBUH said:
إِنْ شِئْتَ حَبَسْتَ أَصْلَهَا وَتَصَدَّقْتَ بِهَا
“If you wish, you may ‘freeze’ it and give it in charity.” 
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani explained: “Freezing (giving as wakaf) and giving in charity of the benefit (that it results in) from it.” 
Whereas, wakaf according to syarak is giving the property on the road of Allah so that its benefits are given to the poor and travellers by maintaining its ain (original state) as the owner of the wakaf giver.
The terminology wakaf also means halting something from being owned and that its benefits are to be given to charity. Hence, the ownership of the property changes to the ownership of Allah SWT. 
The meaning of wakaf is defined by scholars of madhhab Syafi’i as:
حَبْسُ مَالٍ يُمْكِنُ الاِنْتِفَاعُ بِهِ مَعَ بَقَاءِ عَيْنِهِ بِقَطْعِ التَّصَرُّفِ فِي رَقَبَتِهِ عَلَى مَصْرِفٍ مُبَاحٍ مَوْجُودٍ
“Freezing a property but its benefits are reaped (to be given in charity) and the original state of the property is maintained. With the abrogation of the rights of the person giving it as wakaf on the benefits of mubah (non-prohibited) matters.” 
A hadith narrated from Abu Hurairah RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:
إِذَا مَاتَ الإِنْسَانُ انْقَطَعَ عَنْهُ عَمَلُهُ إِلاَّ مِنْ ثَلاَثَةٍ إِلاَّ مِنْ صَدَقَةٍ جَارِيَةٍ أَوْ عِلْمٍ يُنْتَفَعُ بِهِ أَوْ وَلَدٍ صَالِحٍ يَدْعُو لَهُ
“When a man dies all his good deeds come to an end except three: Ongoing charity (Sadaqah Jariyah), beneficial knowledge and a righteous son who prays for him.” 
Imam al-Nawawi said, the meaning of ongoing charity in the above hadith is wakaf. This hadith is also the evidence for the validity of wakaf and its great rewards. 
Al-Khatib al-Syarbini said: Scholars defined the word ‘Sadaqah Jariyah’ in the hadith as wakaf, as stated by Imam al-Rafi’i. The reason is the rewards of Sadaqah Jariyah are continuous for a person who performed it, while for other charities, its rewards aren’t continuous like beneficial ongoing charity or wakaf. 
Scholars presented the clear meanings of wakaf, among them are:
- Ibn Hajar al-Haitami defined wakaf as:
حَبْسُ مَالٍ يُمْكِنُ الِانْتِفَاعُ بِهِ مَعَ بَقَاءِ عَيْنِهِ بِقَطْعِ التَّصَرُّفِ فِي رَقَبَتِهِ عَلَى مَصْرِفٍ مُبَاحٍ
“Withholding a property for as long it can be benefitted from, by severing the ownership rights on said property and its benefits are changed for permissible interests.” 
- Ibnu Qudamah defined wakaf as:
تَحْبِيسُ الْأَصْلِ ، وَتَسْبِيلُ الثَّمَرَةِ
“Freezing the tree (the property) and give in charity of its fruits (yield).” 
- Sayyid Sabiq stated wakaf means impeding a property from being owned by the person giving it in wakaf and giving its benefits away in the road of Allah SWT. 
- Wahbah al-Zuhayli stated wakaf is freezing an asset where its physical attributes remain and can be benefitted from for welfare purposes and it is given to certain parties to be managed with the hopes that it can bring the person closer to Allah SWT. 
According to what has been stated above, it can be understood that wakaf can be defined as an act of worship by giving a part of the properties one owns to be benefitted by the society with the purpose of getting closer to Allah SWT. Wakaf severs any form of ownership or authority on the property that is given as wakaf.
A person who gives his property as wakaf will be rewarded with continuous rewards for as long as the property is benefitted from or isn’t destroyed.
This is surely different from other types of charity. For example, a person gives his money in wakaf for the building of a mosque. Hence, for as long as the mosque remains there, then the rewards continue to flow for him, Insha Allah. While, for instance, a person gives money to a beggar, the money is then used to buy food. After the food is consumed, the rewards of the charity stop there.
Thus, other than giving in other forms of charity, let’s grab this opportunity to give wakaf in the form of cash, asset, service and others.
May Allah SWT grant us all the right knowledge and understanding so that we can prepare ourselves the best we could for our eternal lives in the hereafter. Amin.
 Surah Ali-Imran: 92
 See Lisan al-‘Arab, 9/359
 Narrated by al-Bukhari (2772)
 See Fath al-Bari, 5/401
 See al-Ta’rifat, 1/85
 See Mughni al-Muhtaj, 2/376
 Narrated by Muslim (1631)
 See Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 3/89
 See Mughni al-Muhtaj, 10/87
 See Tuhfah al-Muhtaj fi Syarh al-Minhaj, 25/307
 See al-Mughni, 12/175
 See Fiqh al-Sunnah, 3/515
 See al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh, 8/155