The Role of Women in the Creation and Management of Awqāf: A Historical Perspective


  • Abdul Azim Islahi


The present paper explores role of Muslim women in creation and management of awqāf – an area generally ignored by the writers on history of waqf. Inspired by Qur’anic teaching “you cannot attain to righteousness unless you spend out of what you love …” (Q.3: 92) and “… So vie with one another in doing good works” (Q. 5: 48), Muslim women did not stay behind in acts of piety including creation of waqfs. An exploration into history of waqf institution reveals multiple examples of waqf creation by them right from early days of Islām until the present days. This paper also examines various kinds of objects endowed by women and the purposes for which they were dedicated. Example of supervision and management of waqf by women is also traceable back to Islām’s exemplary century (khayr al-qurūn). Evidences of creation and management of awqāf by Muslim women for various purposes are spread throughout Islāmic history that needs serious investigation. The sijillāt (registers) of waqfiyyāt in Ottoman archives and waqf deeds preserved in existing old awqāf endowed by women are very valuable primary sources of past women studies. In historical works, there is a shortage of writings by women about women. Waqfiyyāt left by women fill this lacuna to some extent. The present study is a modest effort in this direction. Moreover, by presenting examples of ladies engaged in control and administration of business and finance in the present age, the paper tries to answer, in the concluding notes, how women are fully competent to manage awqāf. Moreover, since Muslim women have numerous sources of income with no financial obligations, it is also argued that they have greater capacity to create awqāf if properly educated and convinced. It is hoped that this study would draw the attention of scholars and researchers to undertake a deeper and more detailed study of the various aspects of women’s awqāf.


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How to Cite

Islahi, A. A. (2018). The Role of Women in the Creation and Management of Awqāf: A Historical Perspective. Intellectual Discourse, 26(2), 1025–1046. Retrieved from