Treatises on Religious Endowments


Rasāʼil fī al-waqf (Treatises on religious endowments) is a collection of seven articles addressing different aspects of waqf (Islamic religious endowments) in early 20th century Egypt. The articles originally were published in al-Muqattam newspaper between January 1902 and November 1906. The author, ʻAziiz Khankī Bey (1873‒1956), was an Egyptian lawyer and historian of Syrian and Armenian descent. He studied law at the Madrasat al-huquq (The Law School, since 1925 a part of Cairo University), and Islamic jurisprudence at al-Azhar, also in Cairo. He was part of the intellectual circle around jurist and reformer Muhammad ʻAbduh (1849‒1905) and is credited with founding the Egyptian Bar Association in 1912. The first three treatises explore the legal tug-of-war over waqf jurisdiction between local and sharia courts in Egypt. The fourth and fifth treatises discuss the early history of waqf, beginning with the time of the Prophet Muhammad, his immediate successors (caliphs), and early scholars of Islamic jurisprudence. The sixth and seventh treatises evaluate waqf laws and asset management in Egypt at the time, with a critical assessment of best and worst practices. The booklet is arguably the first of its kind to discuss waqf in its four main aspects, namely historical, religious, legal, and urban planning. In his conclusion, the author recommends that waqf laws be modernized, and that Muslim charitable giving in Egypt be combined with that of Christians so that it can be more effective and better serve the needs of the society. Published in 1907, the copy presented here is from the collections of the Law Library of the Library of Congress.

Last updated: May 9, 2016