Beneficiaries (Alaihim) of Waqf under Muslim Law

Moreover persons who are totally strangers to the waqif may be competent beneficiaries. In brief, it may be stated that a waqf may be created for (i) a Muslim or a non-Muslim, (ii) a relative and descendant of the waqif or stranger to him, (iii) male or female, (iv) sane or insane, (v) born or unborn person.

Reservation of income for the benefit of waqif:

Under Hanafi law, a dedicator can reserve the income of waqf-property for himself. He may lawfully provide for reserving the income of waqf for following purposes:

(i) That the whole or a part of the income of waqf is to be given to waqif for his maintenance till he is alive.

(ii) That waqif would have the right of residence in the dedicated property during his life.

(iii) That the income of the waqf would be reserved exclusively for the benefit of some specific person.

(iv) That the income of the property would be used for the payment of any debt incurred by the waqif.

In this manner, we find that under Hanafi law a waqif himself can be the beneficiary of a waqf created by him. For example, a Hanafi Muslim may constitute a waqf of his house subject to a provision that income of the house (i.e. rents) should be given to him for his maintenance during his life and after his death, it is to be utilised for religious and charitable purposes.

Here, the reservation of life-interest in favour of the waqif is valid although the income of waqf is to be utilised for charitable purposes only after the dedicator’s death. Where a Hanafi Muslim executed a waqf-deed in which he provided that the debts incurred by him should be paid out of the income of waqf property, it was held that the direction for the payment of waqif s debt was valid.

In Venkataswami v. Mir Zahid Hussain Saheb” the Mysore High Court held that reservation of the benefit of a waqf exclusively for the maintenance of any specific person during his life was lawful and waqf as well as the reservation both were held valid. Similarly, where a Hanafi Muslim created a waqf of his house and provided that he would be entitled to live in the house during his life, it was held that the direction by the waqif for his residence was valid.

This Hanafi rule has been incorporated in the Mussalman Waqf Validating Act, 1913. The Act provides that where the settlor is a Hanafi Muslim, he may make provisions for his own maintenance and support during his life time or, for the payment of his debts out of the rents and profits of the property dedicated.

However, a reservation for the waqif is subject to a condition that the ultimate benefit must be reserved for the poor or for any other purpose recognised as religious, pious, or charitable under Muslim law. Thus, under this Act too reservation of income for the life of waqif is allowed, but creation of successive life-interests is not permissible.

Shia Law:

Under the Shia law, a waqif cannot reserve any benefit for himself. Where a Shia waqif makes provision for the reservation of any income for his maintenance or for the payment of his debt, the waqf is void. It is to be noted that in such a case, it is not only the direction for reservation which is void but, the whole waqf becomes unlawful.

In Abadi Begum v. Kaniz Zainab, the Privy Council held that under Shia law, one of the essential conditions for a valid waqf is that it must have been taken entirely out of the appropriator i.e. after the dedication nothing should be left with the founder.

Explaining the Shia law on this point, the Privy Council observed that the waqif must not eat out of waqf. Accordingly, if a Shia dedicator reserves for himself any part of the income of waqf the whole waqf is void.

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