Waqf is a charitable endowment contributed by an individual to provide services to the community. The endowment is usually in the form of property, house or land, but over Islamic history there has been a range and diversity of awqaf. While the purpose was to provide communities with needed services, various periods have seen shifts in the organization and administration of waqf and hence also the directions in which the income from endowed property has been spent. The donor of waqf, generally speaking, looked for thawab, or heavenly recognition for the act of philanthropy. At the same time foundations played important political, financial, cultural and social roles
Georgetown University in Qatar is hosting a workshop from December 4th - 5th, 2016 to bring on discussion of the origins and transformations experienced by this institution over the centuries. Presentations and discussions will take up the social value of waqf endowments, and an analysis of state-society relations and relations of power as administration of waqf shifts from a legal system organically linked and serving communities, to control by centralized states with governing infra-structures.
Questions to be raised include periodizing waqf and the types of waqf that appear during specific periods and places in Islamic history; changes in types of waqf and how they are related to social transformations; administration of waqf, income and expenditures and relations of waqf to society and state-power; finally, the administration of waqf and the clerical role.