Religious Affairs Minister muddles Wakf Board
Posted on January 31st, 2011

By Rukshana Rizwie

The Wakf board, which is the governing body of all mosques in Sri Lanka, still remains muddled in controversy over irregularities taking place in the Department of Muslims Religious and Cultural Affairs, where a seven-member panel has been chosen for the board but not a chairman. 

The Wakf board is where all mosques, Muslims shrines, places of religious resort and charitable trust in Sri Lanka are to be registered with but is currently defunct leading many to believe it could lead to worsening tension within the Muslim community. 

“The Prime Minister, as the Religious Affairs Minister, has appointed a team, but not a chairman. Many of them are young persons who are tasked to administer senior citizens in case of an appeal or issues within the community, which is not justifiable,” said Reyyaz Salley, a Managing Trustee of the Shaikh Usman Waliyullah shrine and Masjid and called as Dewatagha Palli.. 

“Moreover the defunct board seems to be dictated by the director of the Department who is in not authorised by law to assume position of the Wakf board, since the board was not dissolved.”
He alleged that the tasks taken by a seven member board cannot be single handedly dictated by one director, as it then negates the purpose of the board. “At the same time, those elected should be officials who are learned, senior and scholarly type who can dissolve rising tensions.” 

“The president selected the previous Wakf board and gave it a time span of three years. In our case the board was not dissolved. The director of the department can act if the board is dissolved, and if the term has ended, the minister is empowered to reconstitute a new board. 

The Nation spoke to the director of the Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs Y L M Navivi, who insisted that the Wakf board was in fact dissolved and he will merely assume duties as an ex-member of the board until a chairman is chosen.

“The act clearly states that when the Wakf board is dissolved and term has come to an end, I can carry on some of the functions until a new chairman is chosen,” he said. “The minister had appointed seven member panel but not a chairman so far.”

Premier Jayaratne could not be contacted for comment.
The previous term of the Wakf board ended in January of 2010, during which the then former secretary of the ministry, H M Herath, approached the President for the extension or to re-constitute the board. 
It was during the time of the presidential election and the commissioner of elections advised the state institutions not to elect new people. 

The secretary again lobbied with the President for a new board or extension but it was postponed due to general elections. 

The Ministry then came under the purview of the prime minister, who is yet to chose a chairman for the board.

One Response to “Religious Affairs Minister muddles Wakf Board”

  1. Rishard Says:

    For a Wakf board to function efficiently religious scholars (Ulema) should be selected or appointed. These persons should be those that follow the pure religion according to the Noble Quran and the traditions of our beloved Prophet Muhammadh (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). The first task of this board should be to appoint similar persons to all the masjids in the country. ‘Shrines’ are alien to Islam and should not be covered under the Wakf Board. According to an authentic tradition (Hadhees) of our beloved Prophet Muhammadh (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) these Shrines or ‘Ziyarams’ as they are called in Sri Lanka should be razed to the ground and converted to Masjids (Baithullah) for the proper worship of the only one and true Almighty Allah. This should be the first task of the Wakf Board.

    Since more and more people are nowadays striving to learn the religion from the source and shredding the innovations that have crept into our religion (Deen) during the last 300 years, the Wakf board will have an immense responsibility to shoulder in shaping the life of the true Muslim.

    May the Almighty Allah help in the formation of an efficient and powerful Wakf Board to serve Allah alone and His Religion.

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