Shafaqna (Shia International News Association) – The Grand Ayatollah Sistani answered some questions regarding Endowment (Waqf).According to Shafaqna the questions and answers are as follows:
Question: I am searching for information regarding the governing of Waqf and the terms by which such property under the Waqf can be distributed and whether there has to be a trustee for a Waqf property. I have read the information provided by your site and while this is most helpful, I should be grateful for any further information you may be able to provide me.
Answer: Waqf or Endowment means that an individual sets aside a property in order that its benefits be used in a certain way which he or she has specified. In this case, the property itself can not be sold or be replaced , rather it must be maintained and its benefits must be disposed of in the way the donor specified. Therefore, the endowed property cannot be sold except in special cases which have been explained in detailed books and the benefits of that also can only be spent as he specified. If the waqf was for particular individuals, it must be divided among those same people. Since the original property must be kept and its benefits be used, naturally a person is needed to manage its affairs. Such a person is called a “Mutawalli” (trustee). If a trustee has not been appointed, the Hakim-e- Shari ( a Just Mujtahid) will appoint someone to manage its affairs. Naturally, the property must be placed in the hands of a trustworthy person who we are certain will act according to donator’s wishes and will not take possession of that property or betray the trust he was given.
Question: Can a person who gives something in waqf appoint a trustee for it?
Answer: The person creating the endowment could appoint a trustee to carry out the affairs of the endowment trust according to the deed of waqf.
Question: What is preferable: burying a dead Muslim in an Islamic cemetery in a non-Muslim city in which he died or transferring the dead body to a Muslim city which entails exorbitant expenses?
Answer: It is preferable to transfer the dead to any holy shrines or other recommended places if there is a donor who can bear the expenses —from the heirs or others— or if the one-third of his estate which he has endowed for religious charity, would suffice for that purpose.
Question: There is a mosque which is going to be destroyed by municipality due to traffic congestion, so there will be no mosque there in the future. What are we supposed to do with the mosque’s furniture, equipment, tools and appliances and building material?
Answer: If what was left of the mosque’s furniture, equipment, tools and appliances, building material, etc. after its demolition, had originally been confined to its sole use, by way of endowment deed, it is obligatory to make use of them in another mosque. Should this not be possible, they must be donated to other public places. In case the latter cannot possibly be done, they should be sold and the proceeds be spent on other mosques.
Source: Ayatollah Sistani