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Waqf & Waqf Land


Waqf:  The Waqf is the Muslim religious endowment. It owns land and other properties that have been given to it by the state and private individuals, and it manages these properties. The Palestinian Waqf is responsible for the management of the Haram as Sharif, Temple Mount area by agreement with Israeli authorities. The Waqf has dug beneath the mosques to build the largest mosque in the Middle East in the "stables of Solomon." In building the underground mosque, the Waqf apparently deliberately destroyed archeological evidence relating to the existence of the second and first temples as well as other materials. Israeli archeologists are sifting through waste dumped from the site to try to recover some of these materials.

Waqf land ownership - Waqf land ownership has a special status under Ottoman land laws that were continued under British and Israeli law. Waqf land is of two types - Waqf sahih (true Waqf) and Waqf ghar sahih. Waqf land is land under religious or family trust. True waqf land is private Mulk land that given to the Waqf religious endowment or as a family trust. It could not be sold and was used for religious purposes primarily, for houses and for shops. There were about 80,000 to 100,000 dunams of such land.  Waqf ghar sahih is Miri leasehold land, in which the "owner" owns only the right of usufruct and not the land itself. This land was transferred to the trust with the permission of the Sultan or the government. There were about 600,000 to 1,000,000 dunams of Waqf ghar sahih land. Waqf land in mandatory times was administered by the Supreme Muslim Council. Though it was theoretically inalienable, the Jewish Agency had acquired tracts of Waqf land during Ottoman times.    

Ottoman land ownership laws and the status of land ownership in Palestine were crucially important in the history of Zionism, because of Zionist attempts to purchase land, Arab and British attempts to block them, and subsequent claims by Arabs that they had "owned" most of the land in what is now the State of Israel.

Synonymsand alternate spellings:  

Further Information: See The Land Question In Palestine, 1917-1939 by Kenneth W. Stein, University of North Carolina Press, 1984; The Land Question in Palestine; Buying the Emek; Palestine's Rural Economy, 1917 - 1939;Arab Revolt  Zionism and Its Impact;  Mulk; Miri; Mahlul ; Waqf; Matruka; Mawat; Musha'; jiftlik

Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.

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This work is copyright 2007 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism and Israel Information Center and may not reproduced in any form without permission unless explicitly noted otherwise. This entry contains material that is copyright by MideastWeb for Coexistence   Individual entries may be cited with credit to The Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Zionism and Israel

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