Waqf and sukuk: addressing the humanitarian funding gap

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The United Nations (UN) latest report issued in January 2016 entitled "Too Important to Fail-Addressing the Humanitarian Financing Gap" showed a huge jump in the number of people seeking humanitarian aid. At present, US$25 billion has been spent to provide life-saving assistance to 125 million people affected by natural disasters and humanitarian crises. However, the amount spent is still insufficient. There still remains an estimated funding gap of US$15 billion. The United Nations is appealing to more countries and communities to come forward to help fund the aid needed; namely food, clean water, shelter, health care, education and protection (United Nations, 2015). This article takes a look at how waqf sukuk can be a possible panacea in addressing the humanitarian funding gap, focusing on two successful waqf sukuk issued in Singapore and Saudi Arabia. Waqf is an Arabic word meaning to restrain (al-habs) and to prohibit (al-man'). Legally speaking, waqf means to prevent something from becoming the property of a third person (Al-Sarakhsi, 1986). In English, waqf can be translated as 'religious endowment'. However, such translation may not convey the sense of devotion and grace with which waqf is associated with in Islam (Mohsin, 2009). Waqf has a long history in the Muslim civilization where it started since the 7th century AD (Kholid, Sukmana & Hassan, 2007). The first well-known waqf at the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Quba Mosque in Madinah in 622 C.E. The building of the mosque fulfilled communal religious needs as well as lessened the direct cost of providing religious services for the future generation (Kahf, 2003).
Waqf , Sukuk , Humanitarian aid
Nor Saera, N. S. N. & Kasri, N. S. (2016). Waqf and sukuk: addressing the humanitarian funding gap. Global Islamic Economics Magazine, 46 (March), pp. 125-129.

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