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Necessity of effective and efficient business model for development

of Waqf lands in Malaysia

Norinah Mohd Ali
Faculty of Business and Accountancy, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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

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

Nurul Shanaz Ahmad Mahdzan

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

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

1. Introduction
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 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 Ministers
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, 2010a).
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.

Total Waqf Land Size (hectares)

W. Persekutuan
Pulau Pinang
Negeri Sembilan









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.

Waqf Land Size (hectares)




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

Waqf Land Value (RM)



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
lands development.

2. Challenges in developing Waqf lands

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 shariah 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 Malaysia.
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 a 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 shariah resolution in Islamic financing, but not directly focusing on waqf.
Problems in acquiring the funding for the development of waqf land can cease the
waqfs 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.

3. Models for Waqf land development

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 businesses.
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 financing.
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.

4. Philanthropic effectiveness of waqf land development

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 waqifs 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.

5. The way forward to waqf land development

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 necessasity of an
effective and efficient model for the waqf land development.
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.

6. Conclusion
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 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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