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Philosophy of the Common Good and Preservation of Cultural Heritage: Perspective from the Islamic Jurisprudence of Waqf Endowments

From the perspective of Islamic jurisprudence regarding the role in society of waqf endowments, this presentation explores the topic of the common good as it intersected with the idea of the preservation of cultural heritage.

From this viewpoint, Islamic religious scholars of all schools and branches produced jurisprudence and legal theories on the subject from the early Islamic centuries to the current day (examples of the latter are found in Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Malayia and other Muslim majority regions). Writings of this nature were also produced by scholars in other religious communities within Islamicate lands, the dâr al-islâm, such as by Jewish, Christian, Ibadi and Druze religious authorities who theorized on the intentions of individuals within their communities when they created their endowments to support religious, public and private goals some of which included the support of a system of common good and the preservation of cultural spaces.

Although this presentation focuses on studying the intersection, within the domain of waqf, between the common good and the preservation of cultural heritage, specifically, from Islamic Sunni religious writings, the comparative perspective, with reference to the above religious communities, should be kept in mind as well as one which compares this question via endowments and similar structures created elsewhere on a global level.

As such, several works within the ahkâm al-awqâf (rulings / judgments on waqfs) genre produced by Islamic Sunni scholars who wrote on the topic with respect to waqf endowments in the early Islamic centuries to the present period will be studied. The question will be examined, in situ, by looking at the jurists’ interpretation of the intersection of the common good – whether implicitly or explicitly referred to as maṣlaḥa ‘âmma as a means of social cohesion when intersected with waqf as a way of preserving cultural heritage, public or private (« waqf is the element which binds together the society »).


Randi Deguilhem, a Fulbright-Hays recipient, is a professor (directrice de recherche, PhD, HdR) with the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research). She is a member of TELEMMe-MMSH, Aix Marseille U. (AMU), Aix-en-Provence, France, where she has directed graduate seminars from 1998 and has supervised over 20 PhD dissertations. A historian of the modern and contemporary Middle East and Islamic worlds, her primary research focuses on Syria within the framework of comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives. Her work systematically encompasses the longue durée approach specializing on the institutional history and Islamic, customary and state law of waqf endowments as they develop and transform during the Ottoman, Mandate and independent periods in Syria. She also studies and publishes on the educational systems in the Tanzimat and post-Tanzimat era of the Ottoman Empire as well as on the Mission Laïque schools in Greater Syria. Gender analysis in these fields constitute an important focus as well as within her work on the nahda and nahda-inspired movements in the region. She has published 10 multi-authored books and about 50 book chapters and articles.

In 2012, she created and runs the International Research Network (GDRI) WAQF Fondations with the CNRS (IISMM-EHESS, TELEMMe) and university partners in Algeria, Japan, Malaysia, Palestine, Tunisia and the UAE. Within this context, she created and leads a seminar on waqf at IISMM-EHESS, Paris.

From 2014-20, she co-founded and directed the AMU network, GenderMed: Thinking Gender in the Mediterranean which developed institutional links with local and international partners.  She belongs to several Advisory Boards of international programs (i.e. PIMo / Entangled Histories of the Mediterranean, EU COST, Brussels) and journals (i.e. Endowment Studies, Brill, Leiden). She is editor of HAWWA: Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World, Brill and is co-editor of the Gender & Islam series at Bloomsbury / IB Tauris, London.




Koordinatorin Thematic Research Network

Dr. Gudrun-Christine Schimpf
E-Mail: gudrun.schimpf@csi.uni-heidelberg.de
Tel.: +49 (0) 6221 54 - 119 85


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