Family or Charitable Trust

Islamic law permits an individual to place assets in a perpetual trust which like an English trust is managed by a trustee. The objects of the trust must be broadly charitable but may serve (in addition) as a family settlement. As with the three certainties of an English trust the trust document specifies the intention to create the trust, the trust assets, and the purposes (possibly naming beneficiaries). It also specifies the trustee(s) — which may include the settlor —  and succession plans for the office of trustee.

The Islamic trust may be inter vivos or testamentary. In the latter case it intersects with Islamic succession law in that only one-third of the estate may be so disposed; the larger share is allocated according to testamentary rules elaborated in detail in the Qur’an itself. There is no limit on the quantity of assets placed into a trust inter vivos. In a manner similar to cy prés the trust may be wound up and the remainder distributed when it can no longer serve its purposes or it fails for another reason.



Dinshah Fardunji Mulla, Principles of Mahomedan Law (Thacker and Company, Bombay India, 1907), chapter IX.

More on waqf: Jamal J. Nasir, The Islamic Law of Personal Status (Graham and Trotman, second edition, 1990).