The Qatari Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs (AWQAFM) is a Qatari government agency also known as the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs and the Qatar Awqaf Authority which was created in 1993 with the stated aim of “ensuring that all areas of modern life comply with the principles of Islam.” Despite the Ministry’s contributions to the promotion of Islam in Qatar and abroad, some of its investments have proved controversial.
The current Minister is Ghaith bin Mubarak Al Kuwari.
The Ministry’s mission includes collecting donations, increasing awareness and practice of Islam amongst Muslims and non-Muslims, supporting Islamic clergy, and building and maintaining mosques.
Islamic Cultural Center
Many of the Ministry’s missions are carried out through the Qatar Islamic Cultural Center. The center is also known as Fanar, which translates to “lighthouse”. The name was chosen in reference to the center’s missions to “act as a guiding light to mankind”.
Fanar’s Education Center offers courses in Arabic as a foreign language, Shariah Law, and Islamic arts and calligraphy. It also delivers Introduction to Islam classes in a number of different languages, including Filipino, Sri Lankan, Nepali and English.
The center also publishes the Muslim lifestyle magazine Baseera, distributes free Islamic books in multiple languages, and live-streams English-language sermons online every Friday.
The Ministry has invested heavily in the construction of the cultural center and a large number of mosques, but also holds shares in various Qatari corporations including Al Jazeera Finance, a Sharia-compliant financial institution established in 1989.
Former minister Mohammad Abd al-Latif al-Mana was dismissed from the cabinet in 2005 following allegations that he had been involved in the illegal trading of Qatar Natural Gas Transport Company shares. Mohammad Abd al-Latif al-Mana was also a co-founder of Retaj Marketing and Project Management in which the Ministry still owns a 20% stake.
The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs has solicited the radical Sa'ad Ateeq al-Ateeq on several occasions. On Ramadan in 2010 the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs invited al-Ateeq to give sermons. On May 2011 the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs (Qatar) invited Sa'ad Ateeq al-Ateeq to give sermons. One of his sermons is listed on the media section of the website of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs (Qatar). On February 2014 the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs tweeted that the Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque was hosting another sermon by al-Ateeq. Sa'ad Ateeq al-Ateeq has called for the destruction of Shias, Christians, Nusayris (Alawites), and Jews and called for Muslims and Islam to be exalted in Qatar's Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque on January 2015. This was advertised on the website of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs and on the official Twitter account of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.