How the Jaffaria Endowments Changed from an Independent to Dependent Directorate
2023-03-28 - 10:14 am
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The establishment of a Jaffaria Endowment Directorate has never been a governmental project. It was established thanks to the efforts of Shiite cleric Judge Sayed Adnan Al-Mousawi (1884-1929) who decided less than a year after assuming a judicial post to form an endowments directorate specialized for the Shiite faith.
Two rooms in one of Manama's schools were enough to start the initial establishment of the Jaffaria Endowments directorate in 1927. As for the record prepared by the then head, and which is known now as the "Sayed Adnan record", is still the most important reference to dozens of endowments whose documentation the state has stalled for several reasons.
Before that, the endowments were managed by Shiite scholars who had legal jurisdiction over the endowments in agreement with the residents and completely independent of any state authority, while the job of the village mayor was to determine and register the lands of the endowments.
However, the establishment of an official administration of endowments majorly changed the course of things. There has become a central authority that handles the affairs of the Shiite community's endowments in all regions of Bahrain, which opened the door to demands from the Sunni community to establish a special administration for their endowments, a demand that was met after 10 years. It is interesting to mention here that the Sunni Endowments claims (according to its official Instagram account) that it was established in 1927, the same year the Jaffaria Endowments directorate was established, but this is not true.
A few months after he took over as the judiciary and established the Jaffaria Endowments Directorate, Sayed Adnan died, gradually opening the door to government interventions in the Shiite Endowment Directorate. This began with the appointment of heads of the Jaffaria endowments from merchants, and later the appointments of successive boards of directors which came in form of rewards for loyal Shiites.
The ruler has always worked to exploit the directorate of the Jaffaria Endowments to serve him politically. We see, for example, his adherence to keeping the late businessman Sadiq Al-Baharna for 40 years in his position in the Jaffaria Endowments directorate and his unwillingness to change him at all (1956-1996), despite the change in other board members, who were appointed according to the criterion of loyalty and closeness to the regime (in most cases).
After Al-Baharna, successive boards of directors began to rotate among merchants, until 2008, when many noticed a positive change in terms of the personalities who were appointed, and some of them were close to the opposition. Some even saw this as a "deal" between the opposition and government to end the boycott and participate in the kingdom's political life.
But the following years proved to everyone that talking about any deal was an illusion, and everything that happened was an initiative by the government to control everything. It is certain that this regime will show its teeth whenever it wants.
In 2013, the Royal Court decided to appoint Sheikh Mohsen Al-Asfour as chairman of the Jaffaria Endowments. At that time, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Asfour was alive and held an official position as an adviser to the king. He had reservations about this appointment. There are stories about him going to the king, where he told him that this appointment was not met with consensus within the Al-Asfour family as well as the Shiite sect. The king made a promise to Sheikh Ahmed.
In 2020, the Royal Court decided that citizens stranded in Iran during the Coronavirus outbreak did not deserve official state care. He, rather, entrusted the Jaffaria Endowments Directorate with following up on the needs of those stranded in Iran in a provocative move that the stranded people will never forget. The endowments directorate was a puppet in the government's hands.
The Jaffaria Endowments Directorate was established as a completely independent body about 100 years ago with the aim of documenting Shiite endowments over fear of being taken over by the state and influential figures, but with the passage of time and the issuance of regulating laws, it has become just another government institution that is completely controlled by the state. And because it belongs to the Shiite community, it will always be a tool used to blackmail and even provoke Shiites whenever the ruler wishes to.
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