The Long Shadow of England’s Privy Council Cast on the Islamic Law of Trusts in British India

South Asia editor Zubair Abbasi surveys the influence of England’s Privy Council – also known as the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council – on awqāf (Islamic endowments, or trusts). As the highest court of appeal in the British Empire, “[t]he Privy Council contributed towards the development of several legal principles in Islamic endowment law,” in attempts to standardize law throughout the colonies. Its jurisprudence in turn altered how Islamic inheritance law operated in Pakistan. Whereas Islamic endowment law had traditionally applied only to land, these newly implemented principles allowed “management schemes” to be a viable method of wealth management of Islamic endowments. As a result, based on the centralized Privy Council principles, Abbasi explains that the scope of Islamic endowments “extended to new forms of immovable properties, such as shares of joint stock companies and securities issued by the state. Less helpful to modernization projects, some cases, such as Masjid Sheed GanjAbul Fata, andRamanadan Chettiar v Vava Levvavi Marakayar, demonstrated the Privy Council’s influence on Islamic law in India in a way that did harm to the legal system. In his review, Abbasi provides a useful chart with a full list of the Privy Council’s decisions on cases related to awqāfRead more. (SHARIAsource beta access required.)