The positive efforts of the National Awqaf Foundation of South Africa (Awqaf SA) were rewarded on Wednesday after the organization took home top honors in the Waqf and Endowments category, at the 2nd Islamic Economy Awards. The event, held annually in Dubai, aims to recognize innovative business orientated initiatives, which have been pivotal in bettering social and economic welfare amongst the global Muslim population.
“It really means a lot to us. I really think there has been a lot of hard work put in by everybody (at Awqaf). We’ve created fantastic relationships across the board, and may those relationships continue to prosper,” said a grateful Awqaf CEO, Zeinoul Abedien Cajee.
The organization was rewarded for its sterling contribution in the field of waqf, and Cajee said the award was one that belonged to the entire Muslim community in South Africa, as well as those who had partnered with Awqaf SA to help bring them to this point.
“Waqf is becoming mainstream in the Islamic finance sector, and it really opens doors for Awqaf and highlights it as one of the pillars of the Islamic economy,” he said, in regards to the importance of the award.
The concept of waqf is a longstanding tradition within Islamic civilization, which allows individuals to make an ongoing charitable donation for a specific cause, through an investment. Cajee sought to provide an analogy to better explain the practice.
“It is like planting a seed from which we will get a fruit tree, and we can only use the fruit. The tree provides fruit every year, and a lot of people will be able to benefit from this. The tree itself is the waqf from the seed you have given,” he explained.
The practice has seen something of a revival in South Africa, largely due to the ongoing efforts of Awqaf SA. Cajee said they were hoping to further grow the waqf sector in the country, to be of further benefit to the local Muslim community.
“The kind of energy we have and the passion that drives us in Awqaf SA, I think it just encourages us to do more. This award will encourage us to step up,” he vowed.
The award was presented to the organization by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the UAE and current ruler of Dubai. Other winners included prominent U.K born musician, Yusuf Islam in the Islamic Arts category, and Indonesian based Halal Minds, who walked away with the award in the field of Hospitality and Tourism. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)