What is the ruling on a missing object?
If a person finds and spots some money or a product on the floor, and the owner of it is not known, this in Arabic is called ‘luqatah.’
There are few important issues regarding a ‘luqatah.’
First of all should one pick it up or not?
If the luqatah is such that it might be destroyed or abused by someone else wrongly, then it becomes wajib on the person to pick it up. E.g. money, mobile phones etc…
However if the luqatah is such that if he didn’t pick it up it would not get destroyed or affect the object in anyway then it is only preferable for him to take it as long as he is trustworthy and knows that he would not abuse it himself.
(shami p431-433 v.6, hindiyah p289 V.2)
After picking it up the next step is to make an announcement or to make people aware that such a such item was found in the market yesterday etc…
The next masala is for how long one should make this announcement?
The mufta- bihi- qawl (upon which the fatwa is on) is announcement should be done in accordance to the value of the item found. Hence, a gold watch etc… should be for a year and something less expensive and precious like a pen for a week, month etc…
(Hidayah, Mirqaat P166 V.6, shami 436 V.6)
Shaikh Yunus Damat Barakutuhum, has said that even though there isn’t a hadith (Nass) to support the aforementioned fatwa, but according to Qiyaas this is the correct view.
To make an announcement for a year is not necessary according to the Hanafi school of thought.
Their proof is in the following hadith:
“If someone comes and informs you about the number of bags and straps, give that to him. Otherwise, it is like your property and in an another narration it says otherwise make use of it.”
There is no mention of making an announcement for a year in this hadith.
(Muslim p78 V.2)
The next issue is regarding what one should do with the item after making people aware of it being lost and no one has come to claim it.
The masala is that one is permitted to use it himself if he it is in need of it himself (poor). If he is well off, then he has to donate it to a poor person. It is impermissible for a rich person to utilise the item himself.
(Shami p.437 V.6, Hindiyah p291 V.2)
If after donating it to the poor the original owner comes and asks for that item then what should one do?
The masala in this scenario will be that the original will have a choice of either permitting the donation done by the founder of the item or he asks the founder to repay him back the cost of the item or if he item has already been used by the poor person, makes him (the poor person) liable for the item.
If the item is still intact, then the original owner is free to take it.
(Hidayah p.615 V.2, Ahsanul- Fatwa p.390 V.6)
Most of the hadith on this chapter generally states that one should make announcements for a year and if no one comes for it then one should give it to a poor person as sadaqah.
The answers from the hanafi scholars regarding such ahadeeths (when one year is mentioned) are:
1. It was a doubt (waham) from the narrator.
2. As a precautionary measure.
3. The luqatah in the hadith was so precious/ expensive that one had to make an announcement for a year.
(Murqaat p.161 V.6)
ONLY ALLAH KNOWS BEST.
Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham.