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Endowment, Privilege, and Estate in the Central and Eastern Sudan

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In Sudanic Africa, the institution of waqf is rare in the semi-Muslim states stretching from West Africa to the Nile Valley (although some Sudanic rulers did establish awqāf at al-Azhar or in Mecca and Medina). However, these rulers developed a variety of institutions to accommodate incoming Muslim holy men, including the granting of privileged status (jāh or maḥram) — often involving exemption from taxes — ad personam, usually to a holy man and his kin. In Darfur and Sinnār, in particular, this privileged status seems to have evolved into elaborate grants of allodial estates (ḥākūra or iqṬāʿ) that became hereditary. Unlike the earlier grants of privilege, which appear to have been made to kin groups, these allodial states appear to have been granted to individuals, both holy men and non-holy men, although the extant records are largely from holy families.

Affiliations: 1: University of Bergen


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