I would like some clarification with regards to what you should do if you happen to find/come across some money or valuables.
Is there any ruling for this?
Would it be permissable to give the money to charity?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
- If a person finds an item on the road, pathway or a public gathering, he is forbidden to pick it up and keep it for himself. Similarly, if he invites some guest to his house for a meal or some other reason and one of the guest leaves some of his personal possessions behind, it is forbidden for him to pick it up and keep it for himself. If he decides to pick it up, he should do so with the intention of looking for its owner and returning it.
- If a person finds something and does not pick it up, there will be no sin on him. However, if he finds it at a place where there is the fear that if he does not pick it up, someone else will pick it up and will not return it to its owner, then it becomes Waajib on this person to pick it up and return it to its owner.
- Once a person finds a lost item and picks it up, it becomes his responsibility to search for its owner and to return it to him. If he picks it up and replaces it from where he found it or takes it away with him without looking for its owner, he will be committing a sin, irrespective of whether he found it at a safe place where he did not fear it getting lost or he found it at an unsafe place, whether it is wajib for him to pick it up or not. The same rule will apply in both cases, once he picks it up, it becomes wajib upon him to search for its owner and he should not replace it at the place where he found it.
- When a person finds an article, he must search for its owner and announce the lost item in all the public places. The person should clearly announce that he has found a particular item and that the owner should come and claim it. However, he should not mention exactly what he has found so that a cheat does not come and claim it falsely. Instead, he should merely give vague description of it. For example, he must say that he has found some jewellery, clothing or wallet. Once the claimant comes and gives a clear description of that jewellery, clothing or wallet, he should give it to him.
- If the person searches extensively for the owner or advertises it properly, and still does not find its owner to such an extent that he has no hope of finding him, he should give that item in charity. If the person is poor himself, he can keep it for his personal use. If the owner comes and claims his item after the person had given it in charity, he (i.e the owner) can demand the value of the lost item as compensation. If he sanctions giving it in charity, he will receive the reward for that.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Mufti Arshad Ali