Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Waqf Land in the West Bank and Investment Current State of Affairs

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Waqf Land in the West Bank and Investment Current State of Affairs

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study has sought to find out the total area of waqf land in the West Bank, in terms of its types, and the efficiency of its investment. To these two ends, the researcher has tackled three major tracks: total area of waqf land in the West Bank; reality of its exploitation in the West Bank governorates; and efficiency of its investment. During his investigation, the researcher faced tremendous difficulties. On the theoretical side, and since the advent of the Palestinian National Authority, there has been a dearth of literature on these three tracks and on the investment of waqf land in the West Bank in particular. On the practical side, there was not a database available on this waqf land with the directorates of waqf. The researcher only managed to access some statistical publications and paper records. Therefore, he found himself compelled to process more than 2,800 files archived by the directorates of the waqf. He also conducted a number of personal interviews to identify the type of land and extent of its validity or suitability for investment. After collection of this data, he computed it and made an analysis of results according to type, geographical location, percentage of its occupancy using the analytical descriptive method. After data analysis, it was found that the West Bank was home to a treasure of waqf land but unfortunately it was not exploited well. The waqf land was found to be of two types. The first one is appropriate for all kinds of investment and it includes plain lands (92%), planted lands (4.1%) and land invested for real estate (1.2%). The second one is land that has been allocated for public benefit. This includes cemeteries, mosques and holy shrines (maqams). This type represents 2.7%. The results also showed that the percentage of plain land leased was very low. It did not exceed 1.6% of the total area of plain land in the West Bank. In contrast, the planted land amounted to more than 50%. This was due to the fact that the lease was used to being concluded seasonally. Undoubtedly, this poor exploitation of land has had negative effects on the revenues of waqf property and on the extent of its contribution to the Palestinian gross national product and maintenance of food security. The religious and historical shrines in the West Bank were found to be in very poor physical conditions, thus making the premises unsuitable for use. This poor physical condition of the shrines shows how much they have been neglected over the years. In the light of these findings, the study concluded with a number of recommendations, which, if taken seriously, could advance the waqf land sector. There is a necessity to make active use of unused waqf land and invest it anew in vital fields.

Keywords: waqf, West Bank, Palestine, Islamic endowment, economic policy, waqf lands

1. Introduction

Muslim countries, in general, face big challenges when it comes to investment of waqf properties due to the inefficiency of the waqf apparatus (the Ministry of Waqf), its failure in tapping the potentials of waqf, investment in the unused wealth and revival of the waqf tradition. This paper seeks to assess the volume of waqf land, in the first place, and then diagnose the reality of its investment in the Palestinian National Authority's controlled areas, evacuated by the Israeli occupation forces, and the establishment of a national institution to run the waqf property, in the second place.

This paper primarily examines one of the waqf property assets: waqf land of all types in the West Bank. This land was found to be of two types: leased plain land and non-leased plain land. This is in addition to lands belonging to mosques, shrines, and cemeteries (two types of cemeteries: closed and active). The researcher also identified the lands which were economically feasible: plain land and planted land. The lands of mosques, cemeteries and shrines were classified as public utility and charitable work. …

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