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Norinah Mohd Ali196
Mahfuzur Rahman,
Rubi Ahmad,
Nurul Shanaz Ahmad Mahdzan


Effective and efficient Waqf business model is the way forward to improve quality and impact of
Waqf property benefits to the society. The proper utilization of Waqf property has resulted in
socioeconomic development in many Muslim countries including Malaysia. This study highlights
the status quo and research trend of Waqf land in Malaysia. Types of document analyzed were books,
journal articles, conference papers, Waqf projects, and experts’ opinion. The total value of Waqf
land is approximately RM4 billion. Unfortunately, 92.8% of the Waqf land (about 11,091.82
hectares) is still undeveloped. To date, numerous Waqf models have been proposed by researchers,
including 6 manuals by JAWHAR to the management of State Islamic Religious Council (MAIN)
for the development of Waqf property. Most of the Waqf models were developed from Malaysian-
based studies and focused mainly on the single factor Waqf model (i.e., law model, management
model, financing model), little or no research has developed any comprehensive Waqf business
model based on global research findings to accelerate the Waqf land management efficiency. This
paper highlights the necessity of effective and efficient business model for Waqf land development
in Malaysia and provides directions for future research.

Keywords Waqf land in Malaysia, Effective and efficient business model, Waqf land development,
Challenges in developing Waqf land


The word waqf (pl. Awqaf) means to stop or to restrain, to prevent, to detain or to keep in custody
(Amuda, 2013; Cizakca, 1998; Chowdhury, Chowdhury, Zulkifli & Rushdan, 2012). It was derived
from the Arabic root verb Waqafa. Babacan (2011) who looked at both Arabic literature and Islamic
law and described waqf as a special type of sadaqah in which there will be a profit gain from asset
donated, but the donator is not listed as the beneficiary. Waqf is also known as an instrument to
improve the social, spiritual, and the economic condition of the Muslim community. Waqf existed
since the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and its functioning as one of the economic backbones

Faculty of Business and Accountancy, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


of Islam. The benefits of waqf can actually go beyond limited boundaries of religious, cultural, racial
and sectarian boundaries (Mohammad Tahir Sabit, Abdul Hamid, & Ismail, 2005).

Over the centuries, waqf land has played a significant role towards enhancing the social and
economic status of the Muslim societies. Since the earliest of Islam, waqf was a special wealth
distribution system which provided continuous benefits to the society. History has shown that there
are lots of waqf properties being created in the Middle-East and in other Muslim countries. The
development of waqf properties especially land is necessary for generating more income to improve
the socio-economic condition of the Muslims ummah. In fact, land was the first waqf in Islam which
was used to build the first mosque in Islamic history, the mosque of Quba’ in Madinah (Khalifah
Institute). Besides, many well-known education institutions such as Al-Azhar University in Egypt,
University of Cordova in Spain and Universitas Islam Indonesia in Jogjakarta were founded and
maintained using waqf lands (Ahmad Zaki et al., 2008).

In the context of Malaysia, huge amount (11,091.82 hectares) of waqf lands are given by the
Muslims to be invested to benefit the Muslims society (Maznah, Mohamat Sabri, Radziah, 2014).
However, the issue is to what extent the waqf land benefits the local Muslim community. According
to Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom (Minister at Prime Minister’s Department,) there are about 9,937
hectares of unused waqf land in Malaysia which has an estimated value of RM1.9 billion. He also
emphasized that this waqf land must be developed efficiently and systematically so it will benefit
the Muslims. In addition, Daud Vicary Abdullah (INCEIF president & CEO) noted that waqf with
effective administration and implementation has great spiritual and economic potential. In Malaysia,
waqf land developers face various challenges such as lack of access to financial support. Another
challenge for the development of waqf land in Malaysia is that in recent years many donors want to
get back their waqf lands as most of the waqf lands and properties are in high value (Shamsiah,

Fig 1, 2, and 3 show the statistic of the waqf lands, land categories and the market value for all the
states in Malaysia. Figure 1 shows that state of Johor has the highest total waqf land in terms of size
while in terms of market value (see Fig. 3 ), it is found that waqf lands in Pulau Pinang, Federal
Territory and certain part of Johor particularly within the area of Johor Bahru are considered as the
most strategic and valuable property.


Fig.1. Total waqf land size in all over Malaysia

Fig 2 presents the two categories of waqf land in Malaysia (e.g. general, specific waqf land). Fig 2
shows that state of Sabah has the highest total general waqf land in terms of size while Terengganu
has the highest specific waqf land. The general waqf land has more economic potential than specific
waqf land.

Fig.2. Total general and specific waqf land size in all over Malaysia


Fig. 3. Waqf land value across Malaysia

Despite of the fact that the waqf lands can be used as a mechanism of economic growth of the Muslim
society, there are many underdevelopment waqf lands due to various reasons such as inefficient
management, legal issues, development issues and lack of financing of the Awqaf (Zuraidah,
Norhidayah, & Rabitah, 2011; Hidayatul & Shahul, 2011; Sanep & Nur Diyana, 2011; Chowdhury
et al., 2012; and Nur Khalidah, Noor Inayah, Mohamad & Mohd Rizal, 2014). The purpose of this
study is to highlights the necessity of effective and efficient business model for Waqf land
development in Malaysia and provides directions for future research. This paper also attempts to
discuss the approaches taken by Malaysian waqf institution in developing all of these waqf lands
shown in the figures above. It discusses the Malaysian model of investment of waqf land and its
implementation. Scope of the discussion is consisted of various waqf land management models and
instruments of waqf, support infrastructure and challenges in developing the waqf lands with
reference to the existing waqf land’s development.


In 2012, the Department of Awqaf, Zakat and Hajj (JAWHAR) of Malaysia has estimated that there
are about 11,091.82 hectares of waqf land consists of Waqf General and Special all over the country
with the value of RM1,177,084,449.59. Unfortunately, 92.8 percent of the waqf land is undeveloped
(Maznah, Mohamat Sabri & Radziah, 2014). If these land could be developed, the benefits would
have significant contribution to the economic development of Muslim society in Malaysia. As of
2015, the estimated total value of waqf land in Malaysia is RM4 billion. Investments in developing
waqf land is entitled to get the annual rate of return of 20% to 25% (Rashid, 2012). This means the


initial investment outlay will be getting back in 4 to 5 years. In addition, the effective and efficient
development of the undeveloped waqf land in Malaysia could satisfy the beneficiaries of the waqf
and enhance the economy of Muslim societies, maintain the waqf property and finance the other
waqf land development.

In Malaysia, the trustee (mutawalli) for the waqf affairs is under the responsibility of the Islamic
Religious Council in each state. The State Islamic Religious Council (MAIN) is a waqf institution
which is empowered to administer and manage waqf properties in accordance with shari’ah
principles. There are 14 State Islamic Religious Councils, one for each of the 13 states and one for
the Federal Territory. MAIN as a waqf institution is very unique when it is the only sole mutawalli
for all waqf properties in the respective state. The term “sole trustee” implies that the MAIN has
been legally appointed by their respective legislations to supervise all waqf assets and be responsible
for their management and development. This mean, the new waqf creation will automatically be
under the MAIN jurisdiction and no other party can act as a mutawalli. However, there were various
issues and challenges for MAIN in performing their role as a sole mutawalli of waqf land in

Hassan and Shahid (2010) emphasized that the majority of the waqf lands were undeveloped because
they are not being taken care of or handled properly by the mutawalli. Some MAIN have a lack of
qualified manpower (Chowdhury et al., 2012; Dahlia & Haslindar, 2013). Currently, there are only
one to three MAIN personnel responsible for waqf administration in most of the states. It is becoming
difficult for the staffs to administer and assessed the waqf land when some of the states have wide
waqf land size and the lands are scattered in various districts. Dahlia and Haslindar (2013) found
that some of the waqf administrative staffs are not qualified and knowledgeable in Islamic principles
and the laws governing the waqf land. Mohammad Tahir et al. (2005) felt that well trained in
property management as well as fiqh is a must for the mutawalli. There is also an urge for MAIN to
have an expert to handle the development project. For example, there was a cancellation of waqf
projects by Majlis Agama Islam Kelantan (MAIK) due to lack of experts on handling the project and
the federal government took back the money (Nur Farahiah, Siti Fariha, & Mohd Khairy, 2014).

The land classification and the location of waqf lands are also contributing to the problems for the
undeveloped waqf land. Norhaliza and Mustafa (2009) found that 90.34% of Selangor waqf lands


are dedicated for religious purposes such as for mosques, surau, cemeteries and religious schools.
Only 10% were meant for social purposes such as charity and general waqf. They claimed that such
classification of land use becomes unattractive for both investors and donors hence, this explains
why some of the waqf lands are still undeveloped. Rashid (2014) agreed with this when he
emphasized the need to know the land classification so as to not make the same mistake as happened
in India where 33% of developed lands fail to generate income because it were meant for cemeteries,
mosques, etc. The problem worsens when the location of the waqf land makes it harder to be
developed. Before the modernization of Malaysia, majority of Malay communities resided in rural
areas. This Malays who are also Muslims, had dedicated some of their lands for waqf. These lands
happens to be in undeveloped areas and some of the lands are very far from town or road and have
nothing valuable on it except bushes. Some of the lands are swamped lands and are not suitable to
raise building as well as some lands need more funding to develop it (Sanep & Nur Diyana, 2011).
One way to solve it is by implementing istibdal on the property. Istibdal means a waqf land which
is not economical can be substituted or sold and the proceeds from the sales can be used to purchase
another piece of land.

According to the Selangor Waqf Enactment Act 1999, MAIN may istibdal any waqf land if the land
has been acquired by any public authority in accordance with the provisions of any written law, the
land does not yield any usufruct or benefit as intended by the waqif, or if the use of the land does
not comply with the purpose of the waqf. However, it is not easy to implement istibdal on all
undeveloped waqf land. First, the sale of waqf land should only be done in the state of extreme
necessity (darurah) and there is no other alternative. Second, the benefit from the land should be
preserved, and third, by preserving the benefits it should meet the purpose that was intended by the
waqif. So, MAIN has no other choice but to find funding for the development of those lands. In the
9th Malaysian Plan, the Federal government had allocated RM256.4 million to JAWHAR to finance
the Waqf project. Only 16 projects can be developed with this funding which is only 0.16% of the
overall waqf land throughout the country. In the 10th Malaysian Plan, there was only RM136.5
million that been allocated for the development of waqf land. MAIN has to find other alternatives to
finance the development of the projects.

It is very hard to seek development capital from the financial institution because the waqf land in
most of the states cannot be used as collateral due to its perpetuity and inalienability characteristics.


Perpetuity means that the waqf land should last forever, whereas, inalienability means the waqf lands
are not transferable to another party. These characteristics of waqf land became a constraint in
getting funding from financial institutions. MAIN cannot use the land as collateral for fear of losing
it and the financial institutions are not willing to accept due to legal constraints arising from the
concept of perpetuity and inalienability (Mohammad Tahir Sabit et al. 2005). There are no official
guidelines as yet from Bank Negara on the financing of waqf property development. Bank Negara
only touches the shari’ah resolution in Islamic financing, but not directly focusing on waqf.

Problems in acquiring the funding for the development of waqf land can cease the waqf’s objectives
as a religious endowment. The beneficiaries cannot achieve the purposes for which the waqf has
been created. The revenue should be distributed among the beneficiaries such as the poor and the
needy, schools, mosques, etc. The mutawalli of the waqf properties need a paradigm shift in
managing and looking for funding for the assets. They need to be more creative in dealing with
various challenges that they have been facing for decades. Shamsiah (2010b) emphasized that the
inability to overcome financing problems or lack of innovative financing for generating better
returns from waqf assets have hampered the growth of the waqf. However, Rashid (2012) mentioned
a lesson for the mutawalli that proactive policy is what they need to have in the development of the
waqf land. The mutawalli should himself identify the waqf properties and developed it if needed.
The author also stated that majority of mutawalli are not interested to develop the properties as it
consumes their time and energy.


Lots of efforts were taken by researchers, including at the Federal level like JAWHAR to come up
with new models as a guidance to improve administration and financing of the waqf land. For
example, Cizakca (2011) has proposed the First Global Waqf of Stocks which focus on on-going
charity for poverty alleviation, education and family waqf. This model was designed as a government
initiated enterprise with the objective to attract global waqf funds. Mohammad Tahir Sabit (2011)
built a waqf bank model using a cash waqf as a source of funding for benefits to all parties concerned.
Muhammad Ridhwan et al. (2013) emphasized that the cash waqf is the best way for a joint waqf
and it can attract more funds for waqf development projects. The importance of the cash waqf can
be observed further when Ismail Abdel Mohsin (2013) discussed various cash waqf schemes in


Muslim and Muslim minority countries. The author also came up with various Cash Waqf Financial
Institutions (CFWI) models based on direct and indirect cash waqf, Murabahah, Mudarabah and
Musharakah financing. Meanwhile, Tunku Alina (2012) was more interested in enhancing the role
of management of cash waqf by conceptualizing an Enterprise Waqf Fund (EWF) model by
employing the venture capital characteristics. However, Azliza Azra, Rose Ruziana & Shafii (2013)
used the venture strategies to build Venture Philanthropy Waqf Model to sustain the waqf

The waqf models are not limited only to the financing model. Raimi et al. (2014) proposed Faith
Based Model by integrating corporate social responsibility, waqf, and the zakat system as faith-
based intervention tool for poverty reduction in Muslim majority nations. Salarzehi et al. (2010)
proposed a Social Entrepreneurship Model based on the tradition of philanthropy alms, ehsan and
charity. They found that waqf system is a successful social entrepreneurship model which requires
the use of business skills and entrepreneurial innovation and the income derived from it can be used
to eliminate poverty. Both are targeting in improving the ummah welfare. Meanwhile, Nur Zarina
and Norazmawati (2014) conceptualized the development of waqf land in Pulau Pinang by building
an integrated framework based on three major elements which are legislation, development and

In addition to those academic researches, JAWHAR as an institutional body at federal level, which
acted as a planning coordinator and observes the waqf matters in the country had published six
manuals to assist MAIN such as:
 Manual for the Management of Waqf Land (2006),
 Manual for the Management of Waqf Accounting (2007),
 Manual for the Management of a Model Waqf Law (2008),
 Manual for the Management of Cash Waqf (2009),
 Manual for the Management of Statutory Vesting of Waqf Land (2010), and
 Manual for the Management of Istibdal Waqf (2010).

However, even though there are lot of waqf models that have been proposed and published, there is
still no clear view on how far it has been adopted by MAIN. For example, Sharifah Zubaidah (2015)
has raised her concerned about why MAIN has not adopted the JAWHAR Manual for Management


of a Model Waqf Law even though the manual has been published since 2008. According to her,
this model of law on waqf is the latest and most comprehensive, but somehow the states have not
gazetted and use it. Majlis Agama Islam Negeri Sembilan (MAINS) also contributed to this puzzle,
where they already had Waqf Enactment since 2005 but have not yet enforce the enactment in their
administrative duties.

This manual and enactment was there for about the last 10 years, but the states still not adopting it
and the reasons are unknown. More research should be conducted to address the issue of not adopting
models developed to develop the waqf land.


Traditionally, waqf is categorized based on the objectives of the waqf. In other words, it is based on
the donor (waqif) intention on how he wants the waqf properties to be used. Even when the waqif is
dead, MAIN will continue managing the properties as intended by the waqif. The question is, how
can MAIN find the best way to achieve the waqif’s intended objectives? This question is very
relevant to philanthropic effectiveness.

According to Frumkin (2006), a logic model which link the three theories such as theory of change,
theory of leverage, and theory of scale, can show the donor or the trustee on how the philanthropic
intervention can lead them to the intended outcome. Before constructing a logic model, donors need
to be clear about their objectives. Donors need to understand the starting point and the steps along
the way to their goals.

Fig. 4: Elements of a logic model.

In theory of change, Frumkin (2006) suggests that the entire universe of trustee theories of change
can be grouped into six broad categories:
 training individuals for leadership;


 building stronger organizations;

 establishing new inter-organizational networks;
 influencing politics;
 generating new ideas and proposal for a field; and
 unresolved issues.

Theory of change is the heart of the logic model. Choosing the right theory of change “depends on
a host considerations, including the field in which the donor is working and the nature of the outcome
that the donor is seeking to produce” (p.176). However, theory of leverage and theory of scale are
very different from theory of change. These theories seek to support the theory of change to allow
maximize impact. Theory of leverage basically focusing on the mechanics of the process, whereas,
theory of scale will guide the philanthropic work.

In summary, theory of change, theory of leverage, and theory of scale can be understood as a set of
interconnected concepts, all pointing toward the idea of increased programmatic effectiveness and
impact. However, as the amount of waqf lands in Malaysia is huge (see fig.1) and majority of them
are not developed yet, therefore to maximize the benefits of the land, an effective and efficient model
is needed.


The benefits of waqf are well known since the very first time it was introduced in Madinah. It served
as an important wealth distribution instrument in the Muslim community. Even though many
authorities show an increasing awareness of waqf potentials, it remains as an untapped and
somewhat neglected due to the constraints in legal framework, inefficiencies in management, and
inabilities to fund for the development. Most literature has emphasized heavily on waqf historical,
legal structure, and the challenges and obstacles of the waqf development. Various models have also
been introduced, however majority of them have focused on one factor such as on legislative,
administrative or financing model. Little research has looked at the overall model for waqf
development. Thus, there is a necessity of an effective and efficient model for the waqf land


To address the current challenges of waqf land development, further research should be done by
emphasizing on the following research objectives:
 To examine the current status of waqf land development in Malaysia.
 To examine and analyze the issues pertaining to requirements of selected states for waqf
institutions in managing waqf land.
 To examine the gaps between existing waqf management practices and the needs of waqf
development in Malaysia.
 To examine the business models that have been used by MAIN and other countries for waqf
land development.
 To examine and analyze the obstacles in adopting a model in MAIN.


The effective and efficient waqf business model is the way forward in order to improve quality and
impact of waqf property benefits to the society. This study explores the current status, practices,
issues and challenges of the waqf land development in Malaysia. This study also discusses various
issues related to the business models developed previously. The findings show that there is no
comprehensive model for the waqf land development in Malaysia. A comprehensive waqf business
model based on the global research findings is necessary to get the full benefits of the waqf property.
To better the waqf management in Malaysia, the local administrator such as the mosque management
or mosque qari also has to be effective and efficient that can benefit the space of the waqf property.
An effective and efficient model for waqf property development can enhance the benefits of the
projects conducted by the management. In Malaysia, the developers of Waqf land faced a setback
due to lack of access to financial support which further complicates the implementation of the
effective and efficient business model for waqf land development. Certainly, the development of
waqf land also involved various challenges such as undeveloped and unproductive waqf land,
loopholes in the legal framework, unregistered waqf land and waqf on leasehold land. As such, it is
submitted that Malaysia still really need further measures, more effective and efficient approaches
in order to improve its future investment on the waqf lands.
Waqf institution and any party involved with waqf administration should provide remedies to the
existing challenges related to the waqf land development in Malaysia. However, in Malaysia many


projects are being developed using the Waqf instruments, as well as an example of Waqf success in
driving major investment portfolios from other financial institutions for future ventures.


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