The tradition of "waqf" (endowment) in Islamic society has been a beneficial and effective factor for securing and increasing social welfare. The endowed objects are generally income producing sources and their revenues are spent for charitable and public utility works. In the endowment deed, which is a binding document, the endowed sources, regulations relating to their management and maintenance, the manner of expending the revenues accruing from the endowment and the persons who should carry out and supervise the endowment affairs are laid down.
In the latter part of the 13th century, a very important endowment deed was framed in Tabriz, the Iranian capital during the Ilkhanid era. Waqfnama-i-Rab'-i-Rashidi is a document arranged and compiled by khajeh Rashid al-Din Fazlollah, the Iranian wazir (Lord Chancellor) of three Mogul Ilkhans, historian and physician. The size of the estates endowed for providing the expenditures of managing and maintaining Rab'-i-Rashidi was about 90,000 hectares, covering land in present-day Afghanistan, Asia Minor, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Rab'-i-Rashidi was a huge complex and university town including library, colleges, mosque, guesthouse, hospital, orphanage and papermaking and textile factories, and was founded by Khwaja Rashidal-Din. Although Rab'-i-Rashid, after the assassination of the khajeh, was plundered and ruined, its endowment deed has survived. This waqfnama in 382 pages is scribed beautifully. Gold and vermillion are used for the ornamentation of its pages. The first 290 pages were written by the endower. This is one of the oldest waqfnamas surviving from Islamic lands and illustrates Iran's cultural richness in the 13th century. It indicates the importance of knowledge and the value of learning among Muslims. This 'waqfnama' is a document of world importance and was inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 2007.