Frederic W. Maitland, the pre-eminent Anglo-American legal historian, said that the trust “perhaps forms the most distinctive achievement of English lawyers. It seems to us essential to civilization and yet there nothing quite like it in foreign law.” Maitland was wrong. There was, and is, an almost identical institution in Islamic law—the waqf. This book establishes the proof of that assertion. But it establishes much more than that. For it proves that the waqf pre-existed the English trust by at least five hundred years. And more generally, this work may be the oldest existing legal text devoted to a single subject. And the book is substantial evidence of the level of development and sophistication of classical Islamic law at a time when other major legal systems were still in their infancy.
About the author
Professor Gilbert Verbit is a retired professor of law. He spent his career teaching at the Boston University School of Law where his specialty was the law of trusts for 25 years. He currently resides in Cambridge, United Kingdom.
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