Returning lost items

Nov 20, 2023 | Transaction And Trade

In principle, a lost item is of two types:

A. Such a lost item that the owner normally wouldn’t return to look for it, for example, the seed of a date, or pomegranate peels. If such an item is picked up by the finder, then due to it holding hardly any value, it will be permissible for the finder to use the item. However, if the owner finds the item in the hands of the finder (after him gathering it), then it will belong to owner and not the finder.

B. An object of considerable value, such as gold or silver, would undoubtedly be sought by the owner if lost. If an individual comes across such an item, it becomes imperative for the finder to diligently inquire about the owner’s whereabouts, advertise the item, and make sincere efforts to return the item promptly to the owner. If the item was valued at 10 Dirhams (which is approximately R430.00 currently), then it should be advertised for a period of one year. If it is valued between 3 and 10 Dirhams, then it should be advertised for a month. If it is valued between 1 and 3 Dirhams, then it should be advertised for a week, and if it is valued less than a Dirham, it should be advertised for a day. If one fails to locate the owner, and it is unlikely that he will appear, the finder may opt to give the item in Sadaqah to a recipient of Zakaat; or if one qualifies as a recipient of Zakaat himself, then he may utilize it. Alternatively, the finder may choose to retain possession of the item with the intention of safeguarding it, in case the owner resurfaces later. If the item is given away as Sadaqah and the owner subsequently returns, it becomes obligatory for the finder to reimburse the owner. [[i]].

We will now answer the posed questions considering the principles explained above Insha’Allah.

1. During a market day, someone’s insulation tape got packed with my things and I don’t know how to find them. What do I do with it?

Due to insulation tape being an item of value that is generally valued at less than a Dirham (which is approximately R43.00 currently), it should be advertised for a day, and thereafter given out in charity to a recipient of Zakaat if the owner cannot be located. However, if the owner returns, you will be required to reimburse him.

2. I bought a second-hand book some years ago, and realized that there was a bookmark inside. It’s the laminated type with a person’s school photo. Can I throw it away?

The bookmark is of such minimal value that the owner will not return to look for his or her item generally. Secondly, it comprises of a Haraam picture on it, hence you should destroy it.

3. I was going through a hobby basket, and found a small tub of paint. It’s completely new. I have no recollection of buying it and I have no idea who it belongs to. What should I do with it?

If you are convinced that it belongs to someone else and was placed in your goods in error, you should advertise it depending on the value of the item as mentioned above. If the owner cannot be located after advertising the item for the recommended period of time, then it should be given in charity.

4. I once charged a customer for a service and forgot to consider a R50 discount. I contacted her for banking details, she saw the message but didn’t reply. Do I need to pay her, or is it forfeited?

This question requires some clarification. If the discount was agreed upon in the actual transaction, and both transactors concluded the transaction on the discounted amount, then the client will have to be reimbursed. However, if the client is willing to overlook the discount, then it will be acceptable for you to keep the discount amount. [[ii]]. If for some reason, the client could not be contacted after several attempts, then this money will have to be given in Sadaqah.

Notwithstanding the above, if the discount, was a mere intention from your side and was not actually included or discussed at the time of concluding the transaction, then the money will not have to be returned. [[iii]]. 

5. I accidently didn’t give a customer R2 change some years ago. I can’t remember who they are. How do I handle this scenario?

The R2 should still be returned to the customer. In the event where it’s practically impossible to contact the owner, the R2 should be given in Sadaqah.



Mufti Abdur Rahman Abdur Razak

Date: -06 Jumadal Ula 1445 / 20 November 2023


Mufti Mohammed Desai Saheb


[i] الفتاوى الهندية (2/ 290)

وَإِذَا رَفَعَ اللُّقْطَةَ يُعَرِّفُهَا فَيَقُولُ: الْتَقَطْتُ لُقَطَةً، أَوْ وَجَدْتُ ضَالَّةً، أَوْ عِنْدِي شَيْءٌ فَمَنْ سَمِعْتُمُوهُ يَطْلُبُ دُلُّوهُ عَلَيَّ، كَذَا فِي فَتَاوَى قَاضِي خَانْ. وَيُعَرِّفُ الْمُلْتَقِطُ اللُّقَطَةَ فِي الْأَسْوَاقِ وَالشَّوَارِعِ مُدَّةً يَغْلِبُ عَلَى ظَنِّهِ أَنَّ صَاحِبَهَا لَا يَطْلُبُهَا بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ هُوَ الصَّحِيحُ، كَذَا فِي مَجْمَعِ الْبَحْرَيْنِ وَلُقَطَةُ الْحِلِّ وَالْحَرَمِ سَوَاءٌ، كَذَا فِي خِزَانَةِ الْمُفْتِينَ، ثُمَّ بَعْدَ تَعْرِيفِ الْمُدَّةِ الْمَذْكُورَةِ الْمُلْتَقِطُ مُخَيَّرٌ بَيْنَ أَنْ يَحْفَظَهَا حِسْبَةً وَبَيْنَ أَنْ يَتَصَدَّقَ بِهَا فَإِنْ جَاءَ صَاحِبُهَا فَأَمْضَى الصَّدَقَةَ يَكُونُ لَهُ ثَوَابُهَا وَإِنْ لَمْ يُمْضِهَا ضَمِنَ الْمُلْتَقِطُ أَوْ الْمِسْكِينُ إنْ شَاءَ لَوْ هَلَكَتْ فِي يَدِهِ فَإِنْ ضَمِنَ الْمُلْتَقِطُ لَا يَرْجِعُ عَلَى الْفَقِيرِ وَإِنْ ضَمِنَ الْفَقِيرُ لَا يَرْجِعُ عَلَى الْمُلْتَقِطِ وَإِنْ كَانَتْ اللُّقَطَةُ فِي يَدِ الْمُلْتَقِطِ أَوْ الْمِسْكِينِ قَائِمَةً أَخَذَهَا مِنْهُ، كَذَا فِي شَرْحِ مَجْمَعِ الْبَحْرَيْنِ.

كُلُّ لُقَطَةٍ يُعْلَمُ أَنَّهَا كَانَتْ لِذِمِّيٍّ لَا يَنْبَغِي أَنْ يُتَصَدَّقَ بِهَا وَلَكِنْ تُصْرَفُ إلَى بَيْتِ الْمَالِ لِنَوَائِبِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ، كَذَا فِي السِّرَاجِيَّةِ. ………………………………………….ثُمَّ مَا يَجِدُهُ الرَّجُلُ نَوْعَانِ: نَوْعٌ يَعْلَمُ أَنَّ صَاحِبَهُ لَا يَطْلُبُهُ كَالنَّوَى فِي مَوَاضِعَ مُتَفَرِّقَةٍ وَقُشُورِ الرُّمَّانِ فِي مَوَاضِعَ مُتَفَرِّقَةٍ، وَفِي هَذَا الْوَجْهِ لَهُ أَنْ يَأْخُذَهَا وَيَنْتَفِعَ بِهَا إلَّا أَنَّ صَاحِبَهَا إذَا وَجَدَهَا فِي يَدِهِ بَعْدَ مَا جَمَعَهَا فَلَهُ أَنْ يَأْخُذَهَا وَلَا تَصِيرُ مِلْكًا لِلْآخِذِ، هَكَذَا ذَكَرَ شَيْخُ الْإِسْلَامِ خُوَاهَرْ زَادَهْ وَشَمْسُ الْأَئِمَّةِ السَّرَخْسِيُّ – رَحِمَهُمَا اللَّهُ تَعَالَى – فِي شَرْحِ كِتَابِ اللُّقْطَةِ، وَهَكَذَا ذَكَرَ الْقُدُورِيُّ فِي شَرْحِهِ. وَنَوْعٌ آخَرُ يُعْلَمُ أَنَّ صَاحِبَهُ يَطْلُبُهُ كَالذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ وَسَائِرِ الْعُرُوضِ وَأَشْبَاهِهَا وَفِي هَذَا الْوَجْهِ لَهُ أَنْ يَأْخُذَهَا وَيَحْفَظَهَا وَيُعَرِّفَهَا حَتَّى يُوَصِّلَهَا إلَى صَاحِبِهَا.

Fataawa Mahmoodiyya Vol 16 – Pg 160 (Jaamiah Farooqiah Karachi)

[ii] Business and commerce in the light of Islam Pg 65

[iii] الهداية في شرح بداية المبتدي (3/ 59)

قال: “ويجوز للمشتري أن يزيد للبائع في الثمن ويجوز للبائع أن يزيد للمشتري في المبيع، ويجوز أن يحط من الثمن ويتعلق الاستحقاق بجميع ذلك.


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