By Mbarak Abucheri:
The Wakf Review Commission will conduct public meetings in various parts of the country to collect views with regards to putting in place a new legal framework on management and administration of Muslim Wakf properties.
Traditionally, the wakf properties are found in the Coast region mainly Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu.
The hearings are planned to be conducted countrywide in the eight regions of Kenya namely Coast, Nairobi, North Eastern, Western, Nyanza, Rift Valley, Central and Eastern respectively starting June to July 2016.
This is after the Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai extended it period to August 2016 to complete its works, the work of the task force was to come to an end on May 31.
The Task force was constituted in October last year with a mandate to review the policy, legal and institutional framework to govern Wakf Commission of Kenya.
Addressing a workshop on Wakf Commissioners Act of 1951 at a Nairobi hotel on Tuesday, the chairman of the Task force for Review of the Wakf Commission Act Prof. Hamadi Iddi Boga noted that dates and venues for the hearings and sittings would be set and communicated to the general Muslim public.
He underlined the important role the wakf plays in the Muslim community and said the reform process have come at the right time hence it is imperative for Muslims to fully participate in the exercise so as to ensure their interests are well catered for social economic development.
”Wakf plays a crucial role in the social welfare of Muslims and with the ongoing review process we are on the right track and hoping that with cooperation from Muslim stakeholders across the country the process will be a success” he said.
Prof Hamadi pointed out that the current Wakf law was made at a time when Muslims were only found in particular areas but this is not the case at present as Muslims are now found all over the country hence the need to expand the role of the Wakf Commission to cover the whole country.
He noted that apart from collecting views, the Task force will also utilize the sittings in creating awareness and sensitization to educate Muslims across the country on the Wakf Commissioner Act as majority of Muslims are ignorant about the law governing the Wakf Commissioner of Kenya and it existence.
The Task force Chair disclosed that his committee had collected views from Kenyan Muslims in the diaspora and called on Muslim residents in various regions in the country to turn out during the Task force sittings in their areas to present their views and recommendations to facilitate and ensure the Wakf Commission lives up to its goals.
At the same time Prof. Hamadi cautioned individuals against selling and purchasing Wakf properties stating that it is illegal and against Islamic teachings for one to engage in such activities.
He expressed concern over some individuals who are engage in selling of Wakf properties entrusted to them stating that it fraudulent act.
It is reportedly individuals in urban centres are selling and buying Wakf properties dubiously to deny Muslims their rights and for financial gains.
He disclosed that unclaimed assets of Muslims are supposed also be under the administration of the Wakf but due to the limitation of the law,it has not been possible to bring them under the administration of the Wakf Commission to benefit Muslims.
Prof Hamadi also allayed fears among Coastal Muslims that the Task force was constituted to investigate and take legal actions against those reportedly mismanaged Wakf properties and assets stating that the committee was specifically formulated to undertake the review process of the Wakf Commissioners Act of 1951.
”As members of the Task force appointed by AG to undertake the review of the Wakf Commissioner of 1951 to align with the current constitution, international best practice and Islamic law to serve the best interest of Muslims and the beneficiaries, we would like to allay fear among our Muslim brothers and sisters at the Coast that we are not there to prosecute or investigate anybody our is to facilitate reforms and radical changes in the management and administration at Wakf Commission for proper services. Let Muslims at the Coast not fear us but come out and present their views on how they want Wakf Commissioner of Kenya run for effective service delivery and management,” he said.
He stated that there was no cause for alarm as the Task force will not in any way victimize anybody instead will fully dedicate its efforts in the review of the Wakf Commission Act to cater for the needs of all Muslims across the country.
On his part Prof Hassan Nandwa challenged the task force to provide guidance on how Zakat Central body could be constituted in the country to support the welfare of the unfortunate in the Muslim community.
Prof. Nandwa said if properly constituted Zakat can positively contribute to address social welfare challenges facing Muslims such as education, welfare of the sick, the wayfarers, displaced person and other people in need of assistance.
The meeting was attended by among other the Deputy Chief Kadhi Sheikh Rashid Ali Omar, Sheikh Ibrahim Lethome, Dr. Sheikh Abdallah Kheri, Prof. Saad Yahya and Zubeir Hussein Noor who are members of the Review Commission.
The one day workshop organized by the Task force in collaboration with Umma University brought together Muslim leaders from various Muslim organizations to deliberate on the review process.
Views to the Taskforce can be submitted to the secretariat in hard or soft copy to the office of the Attorney General P.O. Box 80366 Mombasa,9th Floor NSSF building Nkrumah Road or through email:firstname.lastname@example.org.