Opportunities and Challenges of Waqf in Bangladesh: The Way Forward for Socio-Economic Development
Bangladesh has a population of over 160 million, which made it the 8th most populous nation in the world. Besides, it has the fourth largest Muslim population and the third largest Muslim majority country in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan. The huge amount of national waqf assets of Bangladesh, consisting a significant amount of underutilized funds, has the enormous potentials to contribute to its socio-economic developments. The key objective of this paper is to explore the areas that need a fresh look at the revival and consumption of waqf funds to foster sustainable economic development and social progress in Bangladesh. In line with this objective, the study seeks to (1) examine the issues and challenges of waqf management in Bangladesh; (2) identify the role of waqf in stimulating socio-economic development of the country; and (3) suggest legal, institutional, and functional reforms in the waqf sector for its further development to rejuvenate the economy of Bangladesh. The study suggests that should the assets held by the waqf estates in Bangladesh be utilized more efficiently it would eliminate poverty through making the necessary changes in the waqf management to cater for the need of the time. The study recommends for using innovative Islamic finance products, for empowering the poor through waqf funds which would make the poor segments of the country an integral part of the development process. The Waqf administration may consider it as its primary goal to engage the poor in country’s socio-economic development activities. It also comes with some more specific recommendations that deserve serious consideration for waqf developments in Bangladesh.
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