The India Harmo
“Tie up your property and devote the fruits to the welfare of human beings, devote its produce to your children and to the poor.”
– Prophet Mohammed
The India Harmony Foundation is sponsoring a series of round tables of concerned members of civil society, who come to hear eminent individuals speak on relevant subjects. The lecture is followed by participative interaction between those present, including members of the judiciary, media persons, scholars and other professionals. On this occasion, The India Harmony Foundation sponsored a talk on, “India’s Forgotten Heritage: WAKF Properties”. A WAKF is an unconditional and permanent dedication of property, with implied detention in the ownership of God in such a manner, that the property of the owner may be extinguished and its profits may revert to, or be applied for the benefit of mankind, except for purposes prohibited by Islam.
The illustrated lecture was presented by Dr. M. R. Haque (Qaiser Shamim) – author, scholar and former secretary, Central WAKF Council, Government of India, Chief Guest, Shri Naseem Ahmed – Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, Government of India, Guest of Honour – Shri. K Rahman Khan, MP Rajya Sabha and former Union Minister of Minority Affairs, Dr. Arvind Mayaram – IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India.
Mrs. Kulsoom Noor Saifullah in her welcome address said that it was the long cherished dream of Late Zafar Saifullah (former Cabinet Secretary) to sponsor talks that benefit socio economic development of the country. He took keen interest in WAKF matters. Therefore, the Inaugural lecture was on the subject. Mr. Nasim Ahmad, Chairman of National Commission for Minorities was the Chief Guest, while Shri K Rahman Khan Rajya Sabha MP And former Union Minister of Minority Affairs, attended as Guest of Honour.
Said Mrs Kulsoom Noor Saifullah, (Managing Trustee of the India Harmony Foundation), “In keeping with the wishes of our late Founder President, Janab Zafar Saifullah Saheb IHF is sponsoring a lecture series on subjects that can strengthen the social and economic fabric of our nation. The inaugural lecture is on the development of the WAKF properties. Zafar Saifullah Saheb, was deeply committed to bringing about socio economic development of the backward Muslims through self sustaining initiatives such as proper utilisation of the WAKF properties. After years of dialogue and debate he was happy to see the passing of the WAKF bill. We thank K Rahman Khan Sahib for successfully steering it through Parliament. However, this is only the beginning- vigilant and tight management of these properties will go a long way in contributing to the national exchequer. In his speeches to young Muslims Zafar Saheb would often quote, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ He exhorted them to educate themselves, to be proud and self reliant. He would say, ‘This is the land of your birth and the land where your forefathers are buried, it is your unalienable right to breathe of its air and drink of its waters; but it is also your duty to fight for its survival and dedicate yourselves to the task of nation building.’ He dreamt of establishing quality institutions of learning across the country from the revenue generated by the WAKF properties. Today, we dedicate this lecture towards fulfilment of that dream.“
She continued, “As we all know WAKF is Arabic for a philanthropic endowment of property, the fruits of which are to be used for public good.”
The Guest of Honour – Shri. K Rahman Khan (MP Rajya Sabha and former Union Minister of Minority Affairs) said, “The management of WAKF, has been strengthened by the WAKF act and its recent amendments. Its implementation is now in the hands of the community. The WAKF Boards are in a pathetic condition with only the community to blame. Rs.15,000/- to Rs.20,000/- crore annual income can be possible if the law is well implemented. The Government of India can tap their potential for the greater good of the country. Only Muslims can bring in a change and increase awareness of the WAKF properties in the minds of the citizens.“
Chief Guest, Shri Naseem Ahmed (Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, Government of India) said, “Problems of auqaf differ from state to state, with problems of the past haunting them. After the mass exodus of Muslims from Punjab there were no Mutawallis (caretakers) for these properties. The Punjab WAKF Board established in 1961 by Govt of India, worked ceaselessly to identify properties that had the potential of fetching 1000 crore rupees as revenue. Sadly government officials or the public at large are not fully aware of what WAKF is. A whole range of problems need to be addressed for which public participation is essential to generate income from these properties. A recent training program to sensitise young IAS officers about the problems and solutions of WAKF management is a step in the right direction.“
Shri Virendra Dayal, Hon’ble Founder Trustee, India Harmony Foundation, and Former member, National Human Rights Commission commented that, “these matters should be a part of the curriculum of the IAS training academy at Mussoorie. Building understanding of WAKF matters at this level would greatly facilitate better administration of WAKF by Government of India.“
In his inaugural lecture Dr. M. R. Haque (former Secretary of the Central Waqf Council) said, “The Muslim community is sitting on a goldmine (i.e. WAQF properties), but the community does not have the capacity to dig it out, process it and make it usable for the market. That is where the entire problem lies.” He was delivering the inaugural lecture under the “India Talks” series of India Harmony Foundation.
He said that the gold mine will remain useless unless the community is helped to develop the capacity to make use of it for providing education and health services and social amenities to Muslims and other citizens of India. Pleading for budgetary support to the WAKF Boards till they become self reliant, he argued that the community had created auqaf, but the WAQF Boards are the creation of the State. They are required to be supported financially on the line of similar statutory bodies. He also pleaded that “betterment of law does not get automatically translated into betterment of administration,” unless efficient govt. mechanism for the implementation of WAKF law is in place.
As outlined by Late Shri Zafar Saifullah (Former Cabinet Secretary, Government of India), “WAKF properties are a sacred trust. It is our noble duty to administer them with dedication and honesty so that the revenue from these properties may be fully utilised for the upliftment and education of the weaker sections of the Muslim Community.”
The India Harmony Foundation strives to create understanding of diverse cultural and philanthropic traditions of India’s Minority communities. These traditions have contributed to enriching the social fabric of our country and fostered brotherhood between communities. The WAKF is one such tradition that is worthy of deep respect.
ILLUSTRATIONS AND EXAMPLES OF WELL MANAGED WAKF PROPERTIES
During the time of the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Singh, a Muslim soldier fighting with the Sikh Army was killed. The Guru established a Masjid in his memory at Hargobindpur. After the exodus of Muslims in 1947 the Masjid lay abandoned. The local Nihang Sikhs became the caretakers. In 2001, Dr Haque as administrator of Punjab WAKF Board visited the site and requested the Baba Sant Singh to restore the property to the WAKF Board. He promised that the Nihangs would remain the caretakers. The agreement was signed and the entire village turned up to witness the first Namaaz being performed in the Masjid. What a beautiful symbol of communal harmony! The Masjid continues to be known as Guru ki Maseet.
The oldest and finest example of a successful WAKF endowment is the Mohsin Hooghly College near Kolkatta. Established in 1836, it was affiliated to University of Calcutta in 1857. A Muslim noble, Mohammed Mohsin created a WAKF or Trust in 1806 and divided his fortune in three parts. The largest part was for education and prayer halls, the second for pensions to the elderly and disabled and the third for administration and management. It remains a landmark college today.
Established in 1958 by the hereditary trustees of the 600 year old Sufi shrine of Khaja Banda Nawaz in the Deccan, the society first established an engineering college and later set up an ultra modern institute of Medical Sciences. The Alumni are of all faiths and are successful professionals the world over.
The Jamia Hamdard University is a fine example of a family trust set up by the Hamdard family who have not only provided the whole country with the best of Unani medicine but through their college of Pharmacology and Institute of Medical Sciences, imparting high quality education to successive generations.
The Mewat Engineering College is the most recent addition to quality WAKF institutions in Haryana. Established near Nuh, 100 km from Delhi, one of the most arid and backward regions of Haryana, rich in heritage but largely underdeveloped, this college has brought hope, opportunity and employment to the local people.
The India Harmony Foundation (IHF) was established in 2010 by its Founder President Late Shri Zafar Saifullah – former Cabinet Secretary, Government of India with Dr. A.R. Kidwai – former Governor of West Bengal, Bihar and Haryana, Shri Rehman Khan – M.P. and former Deputy Chairman, Rajya Sabha, Shri Virender Dayal – former Chef-de-Cabinet, United Nations New York and former Member, Human Rights Commission, Lt. Gen. S.A. Hasnain (Retd) – PVSM, AVSM, Shri Keki Daruwalla – Poet Writer & former Chairman, JIC, Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, Smt. Louise Khurshid – former M.L.A. and Senior journalist, Dr. Spalzes Angmo – former Member, National Commission for Minorities, Shri S.K. Zaheer – former UN Civil Servant & President Shia College, Lucknow, Smt. Zakia Zaheer – Educationist and well-known Urdu Litterateur and Mrs. Kulsoom Noor Saifullah – Enterpreneur, Publisher and Social Activist, as Founder Trustees.
The principal objective of The India Harmony Foundation is to create understanding between diverse communities of India. It achieves this through showcasing our common culture through theatre, poetry, dance and music shows, seminars, interactive lectures, art shows, food festivals, publications and a quarterly journal for parliamentarians and others. IHF has also sponsored harmony walks across the country. In the five years since its inception, IHF has met with widespread appreciation and acclaim.
For more information on The India Harmony Foundation’s forthcoming and past activities, please visit : www.indiaharmonyfoundation.com