SINGAPORE: Wakaf Haji Pitchay Meerah Hussain, a Muslim charitable endowment originally located in Geylang, is being used in line with the intention of the person who bequeathed it, said the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) on Monday (Jun 21).
MUIS was responding to allegations that the wakaf, which was intended to be used as a madrasah, was being "mismanaged" and that a Chinese temple was now located on the property.
A wakaf is a voluntary charitable endowment made in the form of cash or property. It is made by Muslims for religious purposes and allows the perpetual use of the asset for charity, according to MUIS' website.
Under the Administration of Muslim Law Act, MUIS administers all wakaf in Singapore to ensure that the assets "remain viable and maximise returns for the intended beneficiaries", said the council in a media statement. It does so under the advice of the Fatwa Committee.
MIGRATION TO BEACH ROAD
Wakaf Haji Pitchay Meerah Hussain comprised a property at No 5 Lorong 9 Geylang that the bequeather intended to be used as a madrasah, said MUIS.
However, "the original property had been in a dilapidated state and was not generating any income to fulfil the Wakaf's original intent", said the council.
In 2002, MUIS therefore migrated the wakaf to a 999-year leasehold property at 11 Beach Road. Crasco Building, a commercial building containing offices, is located at this address.
"MUIS assessed that this would be the best and closest alternative to fulfilling the wishes of the wakif (bequeather), given that the original property could no longer be used as a madrasah," said the council.
"MUIS was of the view that if left in its original condition and location, the wakif's intent for making the wakaf could not be achieved."
A check on MUIS' website showed that a total of 43 wakaf, including Wakaf Haji Pitchay Meerah Hussain, have been migrated to 11 Beach Road.
DISBURSEMENTS IN LINE WITH "ORIGINAL INTENTION"
Guidance on the permissibility of asset migration and wakaf redevelopment to achieve the objectives of the endowment were given by the Fatwa Committee in 1985, said MUIS.
The council added that asset migration, known as "istibdal wakaf", is also practised in other Muslim countries.
"As a result, the value of a number of these wakaf has been enhanced, including the Wakaf Bencoolen development, the Red House, Alias Villas as well as 11 Beach Road.
"MUIS has also been able to substantially increase disbursements to beneficiaries," said the council.
The returns are publicised at MUIS' annual wakaf disbursement ceremony and published in its annual report, it added.
Since the migration of Wakaf Haji Pitchay Meerah Hussain to 11 Beach Road, MUIS has disbursed the yield from the wakaf to full-time madrasah "in line with the original intention of the wakif", said the council.
More than S$200,000 has been disbursed to Madrasah Al-Maarif, Madrasah Alsagoff and Madrasah Wak Tanjong over the past seven years, said MUIS.
GREAT-GRANDSON "SAD AND ANGRY"
MUIS said it had been made aware of reports about the management of Wakaf Haji Pitchay Meerah Hussain.
It referred to a Facebook post written by user Mohamed Ismail Ismail in the group Suara Melayu Singapura on Jun 18.
Mr Ismail, who referred to the bequeather as his great-grandfather, wrote in the post that the wakaf property was "mismanaged" by MUIS.
"I'm very sad and angry," he wrote.
Mr Ismail's post contained a screenshot of a Substack newsletter published on Jun 16 by an author named Murray Hunter. It featured a photo of a Chinese temple captioned "Geylang Road Lorong 9 No 5".
The screengrab of the newsletter read: "The intention of the Haji Pitchay Meerah Hussain Wakaf was to fund an Islamic school, they got a Chinese temple instead."
CNA has contacted Mr Ismail for comment.
MUIS said it was reaching out to the surviving members of the bequeather's family "to reassure them that the wakif's wishes are being respected and that the broader intention behind the creation of the wakaf continues to be fulfilled".