The development of the legal parameters of the waqf institution in contemporary Iran and its socioeconomic impact
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This thesis argues that the laws of waqf in Iran lack modern relevance. Such laws have never been completely modernised, and the waqf system, no longer responsible for the delivery of public goods, still holds a vast array of properties and resources. Many of the ongoing socioeconomic and political disappointments of Iran, which, at the core, are the weakness of the country’s private economic sector and its human capital deficiency, stand among the lasting consequences of the deficiency of resources which the institution of waqf has under its control. Traditional Islamic law laid the ground for the economic infrastructure of the Middle Eastern countries until the late 19th century. Among the institutions that contributed to shaping the economy of the region are the Islamic law of inheritance, which inhibited capital accumulation; the absence in Islamic law of the concept of a corporation and the consequent weaknesses of civil society; and the waqf, which locked vast resources into unproductive organisations for the delivery of social services. It is often argued that many of these obstacles to economic development were largely overcome through radical reforms initiated in the 19th century. However, the modern civil law of Iran has kept traditional Islamic law at the core of laws of waqf, and the process of modernisation of its laws remains incomplete.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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