Albania Land and Property

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Albania
Land and Property

Introduction

Records of Endowed Properties [Waqfiyat] are accounts of land deeded to a mosque or charitable institution. Although not specifically observed in Albania, these documents are known to exist in other Muslim areas of the Ottoman Empire, meaning it is quite likely that such records exist in Albania as well. There are two types of waqfs. One is a document which deeds an individual's property to a mosque or other charitable institution which would thereafter be regarded as the property's legal owner. The other type of waqf is known as the waqf khass or chair (private waqf) in which case the property is legally owned by a pious or charitable institution, but the revenues are divided among the donor's descendants, including wives and daughters, through several generations. The waqf may also benefit the extended family, including brothers and sisters and their children, as well as freed slaves. When there are no more descendants the revenues accrue to the institution. The waqf system was not uniquely limited to Muslims.

See also the Ottoman Detailed Cadastral Surveys in Albania page for related information.

Coverage

Records exist from 1500 to the present. The practice of waqf goes back to at least the 1200s, but the earliest known documents from the Ottoman Empire date from the 1400s. These records cover 20% of the population.

Content

These records list the names of heirs, including even wives and daughters, over several generations. Some waqfs kept track of the deaths of beneficiaries also. The documents were signed in the presence of witnesses and certified by a qadi or judge.

Accessing the Records

The official copy was kept by the qadi or was registered and kept by the appropriate department of the government. It is not presently known whether these records still exist in Albania nor where they are located. None of these records have been acquired by the Family History Library.

These records provide information identifying individuals and are very useful for linking generations.

References