Cash Waqfs in Central Asia

Our information about the existence of cash waqfs in Central Asia is extremely limited. Although Bellér-Hann’s latest work, referring to the Swedish missionaries’ reports, reveals how the waqf law was applied in Kasghar, it is limited to real estate waqfs only (forthcoming). We are informed by an earlier work that such waqfs comprised about eight to ten percent of the total cultivable land in Central Asia (Yediyıldız, 1986: 159).

Concerning the cash waqfs, our primary concern here, McChesney makes the simple argument that since this region was also predominantly Hanafi, there is no reason why these waqfs so popular in the Hanafi Ottoman lands should not also find application in Central Asia. Although this statement appears to be conjectural, McChesney does support it with a Russian source (Dzhalilov, 1: 45-49) pertaining to Uzbekistan.

More substantial and direct evidence has been provided by Utyabay-Kerimi who has shown that the cash waqfs were flourishing in the Ural-Volga region during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when Turkic capital began to flow in. More specifically, reference has been made to the cash waqf of Ahmed Bey Husainov, which had a corpus of 1,000,000 rubbles. Sherif Yaushev, a merchant from Tashkent, on the other hand donated 35,000 rubbles for the masjid and madrasas of the city of Troitsk. The well-known Galiya madrasah in Ufa has survived thanks to the generosity of local bays like Nazirov, Janturin, Usmanov, etc. Between 1906 and 1916 more than 70,000 rubbles had been donated to this institution alone. According to the official documents dated 1911, in the guberniia of Kazan the total cash capital of the waqfs reached 22,400 rubbles and in the guberniia of Orenburg it was 262,045 rubbles. In the same time the waqfs in the Crimea owned 351,000 rubbles without taking into consideration the 22,000 desyatin of land worth 400,000 rubbles, which were lost after 1891 (Utyabay-Kerimi, 1994).


Source: Murat Cizakca, A History of Philanthropic Foundations: The Islamic World From the Seventh Century to the Present. Republished with permission.
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