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Public endowment

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Public endowment (Arabic: وقف عام) is giving a physical property (e.g. land, house, garden, etc.) for the enjoyment of the public or a certain group (with unspecified members) from its usages; such as if a person endows his property for the poor people or university students. Endowments made for public utilities such as for mosque, hospital, cistern, etc. are considered as public endowments.

In public endowments, according to the views of many jurists, the endowed physical property goes out of the owner's possession and control. According to the views of some jurists, the ownership of this type of endowment is transferred to God. Some others believe that the endowed property is like a property without owner and does not require a certain owner to be assigned for it.[1] However, in any case, there is no possibility of transfer of the endowed property.

According to some jurists, in this type of endowment, the custodianship of the endowment is upon the person assigned by the endower and if the endower has not assigned anyone, the custodianship and supervision of the endowment is upon the religious authority. However, in case of assignment of the custodian, the religious authority can change the custodian due to the interest of Muslims and those for whom the endowment is made only if it is proved that the custodian assigned by the endower is not competent.


  1. Ṭabāṭabāʾī Yazdī, al-ʿUrwat al-wuthqā, p. 232-233.


  • Ṭabāṭabāʾī Yazdī, Muḥammad Kāẓim al-. Al-ʿUrwat al-wuthqā fīmā taʿummu bih al-balwā. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1417 AH.