- 東洋学報 = The Toyo Gakuho (ISSN:03869067)
- vol.91, no.1, pp.75-102, 2009-06
During the Mamluk period, powerful figures, especially the Mamluk military aristocracy, began to convert their private property into waqfs (Islamic religious endowments) for the purpose of securing the endowers’ private sources of revenue. The growth of the so-called “self-benefiting” waqf, that is、 a waqf earmarked for the endowers themselves as the main beneficiaries of the revenue earned from the waqf, reflected such circumstances. This article attempts to show the realities behind the “self-benefiting waqf,” examining 1) the ways by which endowers could include themselves as waqf’s beneficiaries, 2) the social stratum of such endowers, 3) the size of the waqfs in question, and 4) stipulations providing for beneficiaries after the death of the endowers contained in waqf deeds.Theoretically, the three schools of Islamic law, except the Hanafi school, denied the legitimacy of the “self-benefiting waqf,” however, in reality, the practice became widespread in both Mamluk Egypt and Syria. There were three methods by which waqf endowers could include themselves as beneficiaries. The first was to expend all earnings from the waqf’s assets on the endower himself; the second was to expend the surplus from waqf earnings after expenditures on the maintenance of waqf-financed religious or educational institutions, salaries and other compensation for the staff, etc; and the third was to divide waqf earnings between the endower and his charitable activities.Among the three methods, the first was the most popular, no doubt because it was a way by which the endower could benefit most directly from his waqf. In this ease, anyone who donated his private property as waqf, which involved the abandonment of all rights of ownership over it, could, nevertheless, continue to oversee the endowed property and pay himself compensation as the waqf’s controller (nazir). It can be said that there was no change in the de facto relationship between the property and its “ex”-owner before and after the endowment was made. In short, the “self-benefiting waqf” of this type could be seen as a way of securing the actual “possession” of one’s estate against such emergency circumstances as sudden political upheavals, sudden death by natural disaster, outbreak of war, or political intrigue, situations under which the subsequent confiscation of property could have occurred at any moment.