x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Growing number of properties donated to Sharjah Islamic charities and mosques

The number of properties donated to the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments’ fund in Sharjah has risen to 65 in the past 18 years, officials have said.

SHARJAH // Properties donated to the Waqf Islamic fund in Sharjah generated Dh30 million in rent in a year, authorities say.

Buildings or plots of land are often donated to the fund to help pay for mosques and support charities.

The properties are operated by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments’ (Awqaf), which distributes money accrued.

Talib Al Marri, secretary general of the Sharjah Awqaf General Trust, said the number of properties run by Awqaf had grown to 65from eight when the fund was established in 1996.

“When you combine the rent collected from Awqaf-run properties and other properties run by different mosques across the emirate, the total income in 2012 was Dh30m,” he said.

Figures for last year were not yet available.

Mr Al Marri was addressing the Sharjah Consultative Council last week about the fund’s policies and achievements.

Ahmed Al Jarwan, secretary general of the SCC, said Waqf was a popular fund even in the times of the Prophet Mohammed, and the emirate was grateful to Awqaf for bringing back the Islamic tradition.

“Waqf in all previous Islamic generations have been very important in promoting education and development,” Mr Al Jarwan said.

“And today it has to be remembered that Waqf is not about schools and mosques alone, but also for catering for different needs of the community.”

Council members made several suggestions to Awqaf, including a committee of Waqf donors to oversee its affairs.

They also asked the department to hold regular meetings with key donors and give reports on how the fund was being handled.

Other members asked Awqaf to hire real estate experts to handle its properties.

There were questions on Waqf’s spending, priorities and Emiratisation. Members also asked about the role of women in the fund’s development.

Awqaf officials said the fund had a team of women, and that its toll-free number was staffed by women.

Mr Al Marri said Awqaf’s expenditure is allocated to different funds within the department.

They include one for building and renovating mosques, one that pays tuition fees for students, and another that buys books for universities and school libraries.

There is also a health fund that pays medical expenses for the needy.

He said the department collected funds from 67 different spots in the emirate and had accounts for donations in several local banks.

ykakande@thenational.ae