Jaafari Endowments and Ambiguity Policy: How Many Endowments Left Undocumented?

2023-04-07 - 11:29 م

Bahrain Mirror: In a recent statement, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Jaafari Endowments, Yousef bin Saleh Al-Saleh, spoke about documenting 100 properties for the Jaafari Endowments Directorate. Although the title suggested that there were 100 properties whose documents would be received within months, the text revealed something different. 

"The endowments directorate have completed the procedures for documenting 100 endowments and receiving their ownership documents during the past months," the official statement read, in a desperate attempt by the Jaafari Endowments to grasp at anything to portray as a fake achievement, to obscure their long and continuous negligence, as they have failed to extract documents for hundreds of endowments belonging to the Shiite community.

There are no official statistics issued by the Jaafari Endowments Department regarding registered and unregistered endowments, but a local newspaper indicated that there are 2,800 properties registered with the endowments that have not been documented so far. This means that this announcement of documenting 100 endowments is just a drop in an ocean.

Although procrastination towards documenting Shia endowments is not new, it has been increasing since 2013. Today, we are witnessing blatant violations through the transfer or seizure of endowment properties. 

It first began with abuses approved by the Jaafari Endowments Directorate itself, when it turned a blind eye to the transfer of ownership of the Khamis Mosque to the Ministry of Culture "under the pretext of its historical significance". Later, it decided to lease the Khurais cemetery in Zinj to an investor who bulldozed the graves to establish his commercial project, leading up to the Jaafari directorate handing 3 vast endowment land plots belonging to the Bin Yahya Ma'atam in A'ali to the Ministry of Housing.

This leniency by the Jaafari Endowments encouraged the authorities to further encroach on the endowments of the Shiite community, which happened recently with the endowment of the Sheikh Saleh Mosque in Tubli, which was seized overnight by a member of the ruling family. It also happened with another endowment land with an area of 4689 square meters in Karzakan, which was given to the Ministry of Health, and another endowment in A'ali, whose ownership was transferred to the Ministry of Electricity and Water.

When matters became worse, Sheikh Mohsen Al-Asfour submitted a letter to the king complaining about the Ministry of Justice's refusal to hand over copies of old endowments to the Jaafari endowments and the stalling in their issuance of modern ownership documents for existing places of worship and cemeteries.

Al-Asfour's letter proved that there are orders issued by the Royal Court to all relevant ministries and bodies, instructing them not to issue any ownership certificates for the endowments of the Shiite community, and to stall as much as possible so that they can seize as many properties as possible.

This coincided with a policy being practiced, which is to gradually encroach on endowments, where they are seized one after the other, so that the spotlight remains focused only on the newly seized endowments, not the old ones. Who among us is talking today about the historic Khamis Mosque as a Shiite endowment that was confiscated! Or who among us knows what will happen to the lands of Bin Yahya Ma'atam in A'ali, which were granted to the Ministry of Housing?

The only solution to stop these infringements is to issue an official and public census of registered endowments that have not been documented and to issue title deeds for them. May this inspire the people to recover this right and return it to its owners. 

Arabic Version