#362: Book Wakaf

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the ruling of book wakaf? I heard in Arab countries it is a common practice, such as the actual price of the book is RM70, but it is on sale for RM10 because the remaining cost of the book has been wakaf. Hope for an explanation.

Answer:

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.

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.” [1]

Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani explained: “Freezing (giving as wakaf) and giving in charity of the benefit (that it results in) from it.” [2]

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 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.” [3]

Briefly, wakaf can be understood as halting a property that its ain (matter) is permanent and can be benefitted or used for the purpose of welfare and it is handover to certain decided parties, prevented from being traded and widely utilized the wakaf property and benefitted with the hopes of getting closer to Allah SWT.

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.” [4]

Al-Mawardi in al-Nukat wa al-Uyun said: Regarding the word al-bir (الْبِرَّ), it is divided into three opinions, which are:

  • Rewards from Allah
  • Good deeds that are rewarded
  • Paradise. This is the opinion of al-Suddi.

While the word ‘until you spend’ (حَتَّىٰ تُنفِقُوا), there are also three opinions, which are:

  • Obligatory charity. This is the opinion of al-Hasan
  • Obligatory and sunnah charity. This is the opinion of Ibn Umar.
  • All good deeds from charity and others.

According to the narration of ‘Amr bin Dinar, when the verse is revealed, Zaid bin Harithah came bringing his horse named Sabal to Rasullullah and said: “Give this horse to charity O Rasullullah,” Then the Prophet PBUH gives it to Usamah, then Zaid said: “O Rasullullah! Indeed, I wanted to give it to charity.” The Prophet PBUH answered: “Indeed, your charity is accepted.” [5]

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.” [6]

Imam al-Nawawi in Syarh Sahih Muslim 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. [7]

According to the above question, the ruling of book wakaf is highly encouraged in Islam. The reason is for as long as the book is benefitted by its readers, surely, the rewards are continuous for the person that gives the wakaf.

The practice of book wakaf is everywhere in Arab countries. Even in the place where we used to study in Medina once upon a time, there are philanthropists who’ll visit bookstores and donate large amounts of money for wakaf to the store’s owner so that the prices of books will be lowered. This makes students like us happy for we’d now be able to afford books which were expensive previously. This is still practised even today.

Furthermore, there are numerous expensive books that are given free to students so that they are able to benefit from them. Such things are greatly encouraged in the practice of wakaf. Moreover, if a student later becomes a faqih and a scholar due to the fact that he is able to refer to and study the book that was given through wakaf and he then teaches it to others, surely the rewards of the wakaf will continue for the person who performs the wakaf. So true are the words of Allah SWT:


مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنبُلَةٍ مِّائَةُ حَبَّةٍ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يُضَاعِفُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

“The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” [8]

This verse also clearly shows the advantages for a person who gives some of his wealth for Allah SWT’s road. Some commentary scholars stated that this verse was revealed to inform the greatness of the donation made by two of the Prophet PBUH’s companions namely Abd al-Rahman bin Auf and Uthman bin Affan. However, this verse includes anyone who follows in the footsteps of these two companions and uses his wealth on the road of Allah SWT. [9]

May Allah SWT increase our rizq and grant us sufficiency so that we are able to give in the form of wakaf on His road and grant us all understanding in this religion. Amin.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] Narrated by al-Bukhari (2772)

[2] See Fath al-Bari, 5/401

[3] See Mughni al-Muhtaj, 2/376

[4] Surah Ali-Imran: 92

[5] See al-Nukat wa al-Uyun, 1/408-409

[6] Narrated by Muslim (1631)

[7] See al-Minhaj fi Syarh Sahih Muslim, 3/89

[8] Surah al-Baqarah: 261

[9] See Tafsir al-Wasit, 1/602

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