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Saturday, 7 July 2007

Malaysian Prime Minister seeks ulama decree on wakaf (waqf) land


KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today asked "ulama" (Muslim theologians) to come up with a "fatwa" (decree) on ways to allow construction of income-generating buildings on "wakaf" land bequeathed specifically for building mosques or surau.The prime minister said this was to ensure that apart from adhering to the will of the original owner of the bequeathed land, the real estate could be given value added so that the returns could benefit Muslims."Although there is wakaf land bequeathed specifically for the construction of mosques or surau, ulama can study the matter by looking at Islamic law in a wider context to allow construction of other buildings besides mosques or surau on bequeathed land," he said at the launch of the project to construct a 34-storey building of the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Council (MAWIP) on about half an hectare of land bequeathed by the late Ahmad Dawjee Dadabhoy, here.The MAWIP tower, at Jalan Perak near the Petronas Twin Towers in the city's golden triangle, will house the headquarters of Bank Islam as well as MAWIP.The building, which will have a total floor space of 467,129 sq ft, is expected to be completed in 2010.Abdullah also asked the state authorities to find ways to develop small parcels of wakaf land, especially in the urban areas, in the most economical and viable manner.He said there existed 36,000 hectares of wakaf land in the whole country that could be developed commercially and given value added so that the returns from the development could be used for welfare purposes.Abdullah said the government has set aside RM250 million for the development of wakaf land and said he hoped that the allocation could be used to develop idle wakaf land.Citing an example, he said that in Penang there existed much undeveloped wakaf land because these pieces of land were small in size and it was not economical or viable to develop such land.As such, he proposed that the state religious authorities buy up land adjacent to the wakaf land and build mosques and other buildings on the bigger piece of land to generate income."If the size (of the land) is not big enough, the ground floor of the building (to be constructed) can be the commercial premises and the mosque can be on the upper floor," he said.On the MAWIP Tower, Abdullah said the project was an example of how wakaf land could be given value added by putting up a commercial building on it.He said it was hoped that the religious authorities in the peninsular states and Sabah and Sarawak could emulate MAWIP's example in developing wakaf land, especially such land located in the urban areas. Abdullah described the building, which would also house the headquarters of Bank Islam, as the symbol of success of the Islamic financial and banking system pioneered by the government. He said he hoped that the relevant authorities would conduct regular monitoring on the progress of construction to iron out any problem immediately so that the building could be completed on schedule."I do not want construction of the building to stall because that will be an embarrassment for Muslims," he said

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