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  • Writer's pictureRaghad Bushnaq

The Role of Endowment Funds in Community Development

Endowment, known as Waqf in Islam, is a noble concept deeply rooted in Islamic tradition. It involves the act of dedicating certain assets or properties for charitable purposes, with the intention that the benefits generated from these assets will be perpetual and will continue to serve the community indefinitely. Waqf is considered a form of Sadaqa Jaria, or continuous charity, as it generates ongoing rewards and blessings for the donor even beyond the property’s lifetime.


Waqf funds can encompass a wide range of assets, including real estate, cash, stocks, businesses, and other valuable resources. These funds can be allocated to various charitable causes, such as education, healthcare, social welfare, and infrastructure development, among others. The primary objective of Waqf is to address the needs of the community and provide sustainable solutions to societal challenges.


One of the distinguishing features of Waqf is its everlasting nature. Unlike other forms of charity, the benefits of Waqf endure indefinitely, even if the physical assets themselves are no longer operational or in existence. This aspect is exemplified in the concept of Sadaqa Jaria, where the rewards of charitable deeds continue to accrue for the donor, benefiting them in the Hereafter.


In the context of water supplies, Sadaqa Jaria may involve the donation of funds to support the construction or maintenance of water wells, reservoirs, or irrigation systems. While these projects provide vital resources to communities, their benefits may cease once the water source dries up or the infrastructure becomes unusable, at that point the reward stops.


On the other hand, Waqf ensures that the rewards of charitable deeds persist regardless of external circumstances. Even if the physical assets associated with a Waqf are damaged, destroyed, or no longer functional, the ongoing rewards and blessings continue to accrue for the donor.


The Mozaic Center serves as a shining example of the transformative impact of Waqf in contemporary society. By providing a safe haven for women, refugees, youth, and children, the center embodies the principles of compassion, empowerment, and community support. Through educational programs, life skills training, mental and emotional health services, and career development initiatives, the center nurtures individuals and fosters personal growth and resilience.


Moreover, the Mozaic Center upholds the spirit of Waqf by empowering refugees and women to become entrepreneurs and leaders in their communities. By equipping them with the necessary skills, resources, and support systems, the center enables women to thrive and succeed while preserving their values and faith.

Throughout Islamic history, not only men but women too have played pivotal roles in endowing Waqf properties and supporting charitable causes. Examples abound of female benefactors who dedicated their wealth to establish mosques, schools, hospitals, and other institutions for the benefit of their communities. These enduring legacies continue to inspire and uplift generations of Muslims around the world, serving as a testament to the timeless principles of compassion, generosity, and social responsibility inherent in Waqf.


The Enduring Legacy of Sit al-Sham's Waqf in Damascus, Syria

Sitt al-Sham, Khatoun, a remarkable figure in Islamic history, resided in Damascus, Syria, in the 16the century where her residence stood opposite the Bimaristan, an urgent care hospital. Her home served as a sanctuary of healing, where she would compound medicine for those in need, providing it free of charge to anyone seeking medical attention at the Bimaristan.

The Bimaristan, First Medical Treatment and Research Center in the Levant Region, Damascus.


In her unwavering commitment to education and knowledge, Sitt al-Sham established several educational institutions through Waqf endowments. Among these was Al-Madrasa Al-Shamia Al-Baranieh, situated on the outskirts of Damascus, she dedicated herself to the pursuit of knowledge and the nurturing of scholars. Later, she transformed her own residence into Al-Madrasa Al-Shamia Al-Jouwania, located inside the city of Damascus, with the same noble purpose of fostering education and intellectual growth.

Almadrasa Alshamia Albarania, Damascus.

The Mosque of Almadrasa Albarania, Damascus.

Almadrasa Alshamia Aljouwania, Former Residence of Sitt al-Sham, Damascus.


Furthermore, Sitt al-Sham founded Al-Husamia School, a haven for Sufis and seekers of knowledge. Her dedication to education extended beyond the establishment of these institutions; she also endowed vast stretches of land, spanning hundreds of acres, to support the operations and maintenance of the schools she founded. The revenues generated from these Waqf lands were used to pay salaries for teachers and cover other expenses, ensuring the continuity and sustainability of the educational endeavors she initiated.


Even today, the schools established by Sitt al-Sham continue to stand as enduring symbols of her philanthropy and commitment to education in Damascus, Syria. Her legacy serves as an inspiration, reminding us of the transformative power of knowledge, and the pivotal role of women in nurturing and sustaining this growth.


Sitt al-Sham, hailed from a distinguished lineage. Her brother, Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, her husband was Asad ad-Din Shirkuh. Sitt al-Sham's family, was deeply entrenched in the landscape of the medieval Islamic world. Their contributions to the defense of Islamic territories and the establishment of the Ayyubid dynasty left a lasting impact on the history of the region.


The Waqf of Ghazi Khosro Bey in Sarajevo, Bosnia

Another example of Waqf is the Waqf of Ghazi Khosro Bey in Sarajevo, Bosnia, stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of charitable endowments in Islamic history. Established by Ghazi Khosro Bey in the 16th century, a prominent figure known for his contributions to the welfare of society, this waqf embodies his commitment to the betterment of his community.


Ghazi Khosro Bey's vision for the waqf was rooted in the principles of compassion and empowerment. By investing in education and social welfare, he sought to uplift the lives of individuals and families, offering them opportunities for growth and development.


Ghazi Khosro Bey Masjid, Sarajevo.

The Waqf of Ghazi Khosro Bey in Sarajevo, Bosnia, encompasses various facilities and initiatives aimed at serving the community's diverse needs. Among its notable components are:

•   Schools: Ghazi Khosro Bey's waqf includes schools designed to provide quality education to children in Sarajevo. These institutions play a crucial role in nurturing the intellectual growth and development of future generations.

•   Dormitories: The waqf features dormitories that offer accommodation to students and individuals in need. By providing a safe and supportive living environment, these facilities enable access to education and opportunities for personal growth.

•  Marketplaces (Souq): Ghazi Khosro Bey's waqf includes marketplaces where locals can engage in commerce and trade. These marketplaces serve as economic hubs, fostering business activity and livelihood opportunities within the community.

•   Mosques (Masjid): The waqf also supports the construction and maintenance of mosques, providing spaces for worship, community gatherings, and spiritual enrichment.

•   The library: The library is within the waqf of Ghazi Khosro Bey played a vital role in promoting knowledge and education among the residents of Sarajevo. It served as a center for learning, providing access to books, manuscripts, and other educational resources to scholars and students alike. The library contributed to the intellectual development of the community and preserved valuable cultural and historical knowledge.

Ghazi Khosro Bey Library, Sarajevo.

Reading Room, Ghazi Khosro Bay's Library, Sarajevo.

•   The Sabeel, or public water fountain, was an essential feature of the waqf. It provided access to clean and safe drinking water for the inhabitants of Sarajevo, particularly during times when access to water sources may have been limited. The Sabeel served as a testament to Ghazi Khosro's commitment to meeting the basic needs of the community and enhancing their quality of life.

Sabeel, Old Town, Sarajevo.

In addition to these facilities, Ghazi Khosro Bey's achievements extend beyond infrastructure. He is renowned for his contributions to the city's water system, implementing innovative solutions to address water scarcity and improve access to clean water for residents. This initiative played a vital role in enhancing public health and sanitation in Sarajevo, demonstrating Ghazi Khosro Bey's commitment to the well-being of the community.


Today, visitors to Sarajevo can witness firsthand the tangible benefits of Ghazi Khosro's philanthropy. The waqf he established operates seamlessly, following the system and plan meticulously laid out by Ghazi Khosro himself. From the bustling Souq and thriving school to the tranquil library and refreshing Sabeel, each component of the waqf continues to fulfill its intended purpose, enriching the lives of countless individuals in Sarajevo. His enduring impact serves as an inspiration to future generations, emphasizing the importance of philanthropy, stewardship, and compassion in building vibrant and resilient communities.


Perpetuating Prosperity:

Waqf plays a crucial role in fostering societal prosperity, exerting dynamic effects on both societal structure and governance. It serves as a vital link between generations, preserving and perpetuating a rich Islamic heritage with its profound social and architectural aspects. Hence, it is imperative to rejuvenate the waqf institution in contemporary times and empower Muslim women to actively participate in it. By integrating women into the realm of knowledge and action, they can fulfill their intended roles and contribute effectively.


We extend a warm invitation to join Mozaic Center's waqf initiative by contributing to the Mozaic Endowment Fund. Your generous donation will be instrumental in paying off the remaining balance for the Mozaic Center, ensuring its continued operation and service to the community. Join us in this noble endeavor and make a lasting impact by donating to the Mozaic Endowment Fund today.


Mozaic Center, Sterling VA.








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