What is the Waqf, and what is the source of its demand to retain exclusive guardianship over the Temple Mount?
Waqf in Arabic refers to a piece of real estate held in trust and dedicated to religious or charitable purposes. According to Sharia Law, once a property is designated as Waqf, there can be no possibility of transfer of ownership, not through inheritance, sale or otherwise. Waqf properties are exempt from taxes, past or present, and any accumulated debts are cancelled. Over the centuries, Christians and Jews living in some Islamic lands were allowed to designate churches and synagogues as Waqf in order to avoid paying taxes.
The Temple Mount was first defined as Waqf immediately after the Mamalukes took control of the city. Over time, Waqf authorities designated numerous properties around Jerusalem. In the 13th century, under the rule of Sultan Baibars of the Mamluk dynasty, Waqf authorities were given military forces to protect the holy sites. In this way, they succeeded in neutralizing any secular government intervention in Temple Mount affairs.
This was the status of the Temple...
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