GEORGE TOWN: An Islamic law professor told the Shariah High Court here today a will left by a real estate tycoon in the 1800s, who decreed that his land be used for wakaf purposes for only 21 years, was invalid under Islamic law.
Universiti Malaya’s Ahmad Hidayat Buang, an expert in Islamic law of succession, said all persons who willed their land for wakaf or Muslim endowment purposes must surrender them to the Islamic authorities in perpetuity.
He said that in the case of the late Shaik Eusoff Shaik Latiff, the tycoon’s request was not compatible in Islamic law, as he willed it for 21 years and later to have it returned to his heirs.
“Such conditions set are against the rules concerning wakaf and immediately disqualifies it as wakaf land. It is repugnant in Islamic law.
“In the Shafii school of Islam, there is no such thing as ‘limited’ time wakaf, such as for 21 years. Such bestowment is invalid from the onset.
“And furthermore, there were no statements from the descendants agreeing that the said land ought to be turned to wakaf following the death of Shaik Eusoff,” he said.
Hidayat said he and two other experts in Islamic law had researched Shaik Eusoff’s will, including studying the official register of wakaf land in the 1900s, the Handbook of the Mohamedan, and Hindu Endowments Board.
He said the takeover of the wakaf land by the Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAINPP) was hence unlawful as the land held by Shaik Eusoff remained under the Trustees Act, which is under civil law.
“MAINPP does not have any status to continue holding onto the property and ought to return the properties to the descendants of the donor, Shaik Eusoff,” he said.
Hidayat was testifying in the trial of Shaik Eusoff’s great-grandchildren against MAINPP.
Shariah High Court judge Mohd Yunus Mohamad Zin set Nov 12 and 13 to allow MAINPP’s lawyers to prepare to question Hidayat.
The plaintiffs were represented by lawyers Akberdin Abdul Kader, Yuslinov Ahmad, Rafie Mohd Shafie, Redza Rafie, Ardy Suffian Akberdin and Hafizullah Abdullah.
MAINPP was represented by Mohd Anuar Ahmad, Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar, Mohd Najib Rohim and Mohammad Shafiq Ibrahim.
Earlier, Hidayat and two other academics from International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) – law lecturer Ismail Mohd Abu Hassan and IIUM Islamic Banking and Finance Institute lecturer Aznan Hasan – submitted a 21-page document to the court.
The suit was initiated by Abdul Shukor PA Mohd Sultan, Syed Idross Syed Hassan Al Mashoor, and Sheik Mohd Jelani Sheik Emam.
They are seeking to reclaim two plots of land covering 6ha in Air Itam.
Shaik Eusoff had willed that the land be held in trust for his descendants, and to be used as wakaf land for a period of 21 years from the death of his last offspring.
The last of his seven children – a daughter – had died in 1932, so the land was supposed to be returned to the family estate in 1953.
This was according to a 10-page will written in English dated Dec 30, 1892.
The case has been in and out of the civil courts since the late 1990s over an argument that the land was held in trust and not wakaf, as claimed by Muslim authorities. Now it has come to the Shariah High Court for a resolution.
Shaik Eusoff, who was a Jawi Peranakan with roots in Gujarat, India, was a well-known real estate magnate said to have owned large tracts of land in George Town in the early 19th century.
His descendants are also credited with bringing the boria – Penang’s traditional “parody theatre” – to the state.