The difference between waqaf and other kinds of charity.
In the Name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
All praise and thanks are due to Allāh, May Allāh’s blessings and peace be upon His Messenger.
Waqaf is an ongoing charity. It is also known as endowment It originates from the word “freeze” and are offered for the sake of Allah.
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) was given a piece of land at Khaibar. He came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and asked him what he should do with it. He said: “O Messenger of Allah, I have been given a piece of land at Khaibar and I have never been given any wealth that is more precious to me than that. What do you command me to do with it?” He said: “If you wish, you can ‘freeze’ it and give it in charity.” So ‘Umar gave it in charity and stipulated that it was not to be sold, given as a gift or inherited, and he gave it in charity to the poor, relatives and slaves, for the sake of Allah and for wayfarers and guests; there was no sin on the one appointed to look after it if he ate from it on a reasonable basis, and fed others without storing anything for the future.” [Al-Bukhari (2737) and Muslim (1633)]
Ibn Majah narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: “The good deeds that will reach a believer after his death are: knowledge which he learned and then spread; a righteous son whom he leaves behind; a copy of the Qur’an that he leaves as a legacy; a masjid that he built; a house that he built for wayfarers; a canal that he dug; or charity that he gave during his lifetime when he was in good health. These deeds will reach him after his death.” [Ibn Majah (242), this hadeeth was classified as hasan by al-Albani in Saheeh Ibn Majah].
Waqaf may mean building a mosque, buying Mushafs of the Qur’an) to be placed in the mosque, or designating a house or a place as a waqaf so that its income is spent on the poor, orphans, relatives, seekers of knowledge or others as stipulated by the one who establishes the waqaf, or donating money to build a charitable hospital, and so on.
With regard to charity that is not ongoing, this is charity in which the thing given is not “frozen”, rather it is given to the poor to become his property and be made use of however he wishes, such as giving him money, food, clothing, medicine or furniture.
If a person establishes a mosque as a waqaf, then it is destroyed or falls down, it is permissible to sell part of it in order to renovate the rest. If it is not possible to make use of any part of it, then the whole thing may be sold and the money donated to another waqaf.
Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “If a waqaf is destroyed and nothing is left of it, it may be sold and the money used to buy something to be given back to the people in charge of the waqaf, and it should be made a waqaf like the first one was. The same applies to a horse kept for jihad, if it is no longer fit for fighting, it should be sold and the money used to buy another one that is fit for jihad. What we conclude from this is that if a waqaf is destroyed and is no longer of any use, such as a house that collapses or land that is ruined and becomes dead and no longer fit for cultivation, or a masjid from which the people move away, and is now in a place where people do not pray, or it becomes too small for the people and cannot accommodate them all, or it falls into disrepair, and it cannot be maintained except by selling part of it, then it is permissible to sell part of it in order to take care of the maintenance of the rest of it. If it is not possible to use any part of it, then the whole thing may be sold.
Ahmad said, according to a report narrated by Abu Dawud: if there are two pieces of wood in the masjid which are of some value, it is permissible to sell them and spend the money raised on the masjid.
According to a report narrated by Saleh: the masjid may be removed to another location if there is the fear of it being robbed or if the location is in a filthy area.
Al-Qaadi said: i.e., if that prevents people from praying there. And he stated that it is permissible to sell its courtyard, according to a report narrated by ‘Abdallah. The imam should give testimony to that effect (i.e., that these changes are necessary)
So long as the waqaf is still in existence, the reward for its founder will be ongoing; the same is also true if the original waqaf is sold and the money put into a new waqaf. Whoever builds a masjid will have the reward promised for that. This is what is narrated in the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “Whoever builds a mosque for the sake of Allah, even if it is like the nest of a sand grouse, Allah will build for him a house in Paradise.” The hadeeth gives an example of building the smallest thing possible. [Narrated by Ahmad, 2157; classified as saheeh by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Jaami’]
And Allah knows best.
[Excerpted from Fatwa No: 43101 Islam Q&A]