Waqfs of Cyrenaica and Italian Colonialism in Libya (1911–41)<sup>1</sup>

Anna Maria Medici

in Held in Trust

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9789774163937
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781617970924 | DOI:
Waqfs of Cyrenaica and Italian Colonialism in Libya (1911–41)1

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An example of contending definitions of waqf is offered in this chapter's view at Cyrenaica under Italian colonial rule, where Muslims initially attributed the legitimacy of waqf to Qur'anic stipulations, hoping in this way to buttress the security of waqf assets and set up a barrier to colonial economic penetration. As for the Italians, they tried to interpret complex regulations pertaining to waqf in such a way as to take full advantage of resources ‘from within.’ In Cyrenaica, waqfs were dismantled mostly through the confiscation and expropriation of their landed assets. The methods adopted by the Italians had needlessly tragic consequences for local communities and resulted mainly from the lacunae and contradictions inherent in Italian colonial policy. At the core of such contradictions with regard to waqf was the Italians' religious policy, exalted in the 1930s by Fascism, which promoted itself as the “sword of Islam.”

Keywords: Cyrenaica; Italian colonial rule; waqf; Qur'anic stipulations; Italians' religious policy; Fascism

Chapter.  9687 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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