Utilizing Waqf Income for Societal Welfare An Open Letter to Dr. Darakhshan Andrabi

August 21, 2023
Dear Dr. Darakhshan Andrabi,

Dear Dr. Darakhshan Andrabi,

I hope this letter finds you in good health and high spirits. I am writing to you as a concerned citizen who holds the well-being of our community close to the heart. The purpose of this letter is not to criticize but to build. There is nothing to be gained from personal criticism. Instead, I seek to foster a constructive discussion on how we can collectively shape a brighter future for our community. It is my sincere hope that we can collaborate to identify innovative ways to harness the potential of the Waqf income for the greater good of all, transcending any divisions that may exist.

Kashmir, the land of saints and a symbol of spiritual significance holds great potential to make a lasting impact on the lives of its people. Our ancestors, those pious servants of Allah, dedicated their lives to promoting the true essence of Islam across Muslim lands. As we acknowledge this rich history, it is our duty to ensure that the legacy of their sacrifices continues.

The journey of the Jammu and Kashmir Waqf Board has been one marked by transformations and challenges. Over the years, the institution has evolved to manage and protect our cherished shrines, mosques, and Waqf properties. However, it is with regret that we must acknowledge the shortcomings that have prevented the board from realizing its full potential.

The tragedies that befell the Khanyar and Charar-e-Sharief shrines serve as painful reminders of the need for continuous improvement and heightened responsibility. While steps have been taken to rebuild these shrines, it is important to address the underlying issues that led to their destruction in the first place. Our community deserves transparency and accountability, and I implore you to facilitate an open dialogue to ensure that such incidents never recur.

Comparatively, the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board’s success story serves as an inspiration. Their swift actions have resulted in the establishment of hospitals, colleges, and universities, benefiting countless underprivileged families. It is essential that we follow suit and channel the Waqf income into building hospitals, schools, and other institutions that cater to the broader welfare of society.

The measures taken last year to remove Mujavirs and donation boxes from major shrines were commendable steps toward restoring the sanctity of these places. I applaud these actions as they indicate a willingness to break free from outdated practices and adapt to the evolving needs of our society. Additionally, your efforts to install digital surveillance at all shrines are further appreciated as a welcome and timely step.

Nevertheless, I urge you to contemplate taking an even greater stride. It has become imperative that we expand this practice to encompass renowned schools and institutes that generate considerable revenue annually by utilizing extensive Awqaf land, yet only remit nominal rents to the Waqf Board. By issuing notifications to these establishments, we can guarantee fairness and equity, thereby harmonizing with the fundamental tenets of our faith. Furthermore, encouraging shopkeepers and traders affiliated with the Awqaf to renew their leases and ensure punctual rent payment demonstrates dedication to proficient management.

I urge you to consider implementing further steps to enhance the credibility of the Waqf Board. By transparently updating the income generated from Waqf properties on a public portal, we can dispel any doubts surrounding the institution’s financial activities. This move will foster trust and encourage public participation in contributing to the greater good.

Dr. Darakhshan, I wholeheartedly believe that under your leadership, the Waqf Board has the potential to emerge as a beacon of positive change. By aligning the institution’s activities with the welfare of the larger society, we can ensure a lasting legacy that will benefit generations to come. Let us transform the Waqf income into a force for societal good, akin to the inspiring work carried out by the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.

Thank you for your time and consideration. May your tenure be marked by transformative initiatives that bring prosperity and harmony to our beloved Kashmir.

Aubaid Ahmad Akhoon
Educational Columnist


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