Endowment between the people and the state [Archives:2005/858/Viewpoint]

July 11 2005

The Editorial Board
Endowment is an Islamic concept that entitles the public to benefit from private ownership. It is a form of equal benefit sharing where the rich dedicate an asset whether a land, premises or service for all to benefit from for good. Endowment is a regular practice among Yemeni merchants especially from Hadramout. Another type of endowment is states' premise, which is allocated only for the public sector and is dedicated for the operations of state and state services. Recently, the Ministry of Endowment has launched a project to record all endowments in Yemen. This is one of the Ministry's tasks in addition to managing and maintenance of endowments and alms. According to official sources the total land endowment exceeds one and half billion square meters some of which had been dedicated to the public benefit over 400 years ago. These lands are dedicated to projects in various sectors of life such as health, education, religion, orphanages and care for minorities and even infrastructure.

In the Yemeni society, the community came together in order to fill in the gaps left by the state. This is a form of informal solidarity sometimes that covers for the inadequacies of the state. Unfortunately, due to corruption authority, tribal, and military figures have invaded many of these lands and endowment properties around the country. Currently the Ministry is trying to sort out the list of properties and repossess them. However, the corruption in this country has gone too deep for such an ambition, and perhaps the most that the Ministry can do is maintain and preserve what is remaining.

It is amazing how the communities try to create their own social insurance, and practice many types of solidarity. Some of these projects steam from religious beliefs such as endowment, which is highly practiced by the private sector. It is enough that the authorities that govern this country in all sectors are not performing their duties, yet their greed extends to destroying initiatives of the citizens who care for their communities. The Muslim society is trying to come over its deficiencies and hardships by pulling in the society's resources together. Instead of impeding these efforts, the powerful people of this country should have a sense of responsibility and dignity not to extend their greed into what was meant for a noble cause.