Fatwas on Endowments
Q1970: In order for an endowment trust to be valid, is it conditional that the special words should be pronounced? Assuming so, is it necessary to be in Arabic?
A: For an endowment deed to be operative, it is not necessary to be done in words. Indeed, it should be effective enough if it is concluded in a de facto manner. However, if it is done in words, it is not necessary to articulate it in Arabic.
Q1971: A person directed in his will that his orchard should be assigned as an endowment for fifty years where the returns should be used in hiring someone to say prayers and perform fasts on his behalf. He further instructed that after the lapse of the first fifty-year period, the endowment should pay for charity work during the celebrations of the Night of Qadr (destiny) of Ramadan. The trustees of the will are the man’s four sons. Since the orchard has fallen into a state of disrepair and can hardly yield anything, can his sons sell the property and use the proceeds to hire someone to perform 200 years of prayer and fasting on deceased’s behalf?
A: The way the endowment trust has been set up could have two implications. If the donor meant to make use of the endowment for himself and others consecutively, it is void insofar as the deceased is concerned; as for the others, it should be deemed an endowment effective from a later time, whose validity is not clear-cut.
If the intention of the deceased was that the income generated by the endowment for fifty years is to be used for himself, there is no legal objection to deeming it shar‘ī and valid. Assuming the validity of the endowment, as long as it is feasible to maintain the orchard in good condition to spend the income it generates in the avenues described in the will and endowment deed — even by spending some of the returns for its upkeep and repairs so that it carries on generating revenue, or by leasing the land for building or any other purpose — and spending the money in the avenues described in the will and endowment deed, it is not permissible to sell or change it.
Otherwise, there is no objection to selling it [the orchard] and buying property that can generate income to be spent in the avenues of the will and endowment deed.
Q1972. I built a building in a village intending it to be used as a masjid. Since there are already two masjids in the village, it clearly doesn’t need another masjid. The village is in desperate need for a place of learning. It is to be noted, however, that neither an endowment deed has been concluded, nor a prayer performed at the premises as praying in a masjid. I am prepared to change my intention by placing the building at the disposal of the Education Department. What is the ruling in this matter?
A: Building the place with the intention of rendering it a masjid per se, without handing the building over to the worshippers to hold prayer there, is not sufficient to realize the endowment. Indeed, the property is actually still at the disposal of the landlord; he is, therefore, free to do with it whatever he wishes. Thus, there is no objection to giving possession of the building to the Education Department.
Q1973: Should money donated to buy tools and appliances for the ḥusayniyyahs/masjids be deemed as endowment, or do the tools bought require uttering endowment formula?
A: Raising money in itself does not amount to endowment. However, after the purchase of the tools for the ḥusayniyyahs and making them available for use at the premises, a de facto endowment comes into force, i.e. without the need to pronounce an endowment formula.
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