The Work Of The Waqfs

A drink of cold water on a hot day, a rest stop for weary travelers, a shelter for birds… The foundation, there when you need it, giving without thought of return…

‘Waqf’ in Arabic (vakıf in Turkish) means social assistance offered by a person of means, and it has left its stamp over a wide swath of territory from Andalusia to Indonesia, from Central Asia to South Africa. Institutionalized in Islamic civilization, waqf culture reached its zenith under the Ottomans. Touching every area of life from city planning and the environment to health and education through its charitable foundations, the Ottoman Empire was the quintessential waqf civilization.
Turkey’s General Directorate of Foundations keeps that culture alive today, celebrating Waqf Week every year in the second week of May. The opening ceremony of Waqf Week this year, based on the concept of Waqf Civilization and City Planning, will take place at the Turkish Parliament under the auspices of Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç. Waqf Week promises to be a week of events focusing on how foundations have been reflected in city planning. 

Interesting Waqfs
In a virtual competition to do good, a number of interesting foundations were set up under the Ottomans. Here are some of the aims they espoused:
Taking school pupils on picnics
Feeding storks
Helping impoverished young people to get married
Providing students with money to buy shoes
Distributing cold water on hot summer days
Caring for the sick in their homes
Planting willow trees on river banks
Assisting bankrupt merchants
Bringing people fresh air at a mansion on the Bosphorus

For more information about waqf week events: