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Issue of (Finding lost objects) if it is found by someone. What are the rules and regulations regarding the topic

Written by Asim Nazir
Student of Master in Islamic Studies
Islamic University Qatar

As we believe Islam is a true religion which works in line with the human nature and delivers the solution of any scenario. In this context Islam also looks after one’s property and provides rules for lost property found by someone. In the following hadith, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) showed the importance in dealing with lost property.                  

Zaid (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “He who keeps a stray property (Luqatah), he himself gone astray unless he announces that he found it.”

 The Arabic term for lost property is “Luqatah” , but few lost animals are not considered in this category. In regards to the lost property’s rules and regulations, lost objects can be divided into three categories which are the followings:

  1. An Insignificant Object
  2. Lost Animals safe from small predators
  3. Money belongings and animal menaced by small predators.
  1. An Insignificant Object

Insignificant objects are those lost articles that people don’t usually care about like a fruit, a stick, a whip or a loaf of bread.
Ruling:  These kinds of lost objects can be picked up and used without advertising/announcing them in public. This ruling has been taken from the following hadith mentioned by Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him)

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) gave us permission concerning sticks, ropes, whips or suchlike things, which a man of us may (accidentally) find that one may benefit from them
  1. Animal safe from Small predators

These are the animals which can defend themselves against small wild beasts by means of their big size i.e camels, horses, cows or mules or flying/running birds etc.
Ruling: it is not permissible to pick up these kinds of lost animals because when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was asked by a man who found the lost camel, Prophet (PBUH) said, “it is none of your concern. It has its feet and its water container, it can go on drinking water and eating trees until its owner finds it.”
Same ruling will apply on large articles (i.e. wooden articles, iron articles big pots etc) which can hardly be lost or moved from one place to another.

  1. Money, belongings and animals menaced by small predators

This category includes someone’s personal belongings, money and small animals that can’t defend themselves against small wild beasts such as sheep, weaned camels and calves.
Rulings: In regards to the lost animals like sheep, calves etc finder can take it and eat it but has to pay its price to its original owner. Also he can sell it and pay the price to its owner, as well as he may possess it and give it food from his own expense but he has right to claim that money from its owner.  This ruling has been derived from the hadith when Prophet (PBUH) was asked about the lost sheep and he replied “It is for you, your brother or a wolf.”
In regards to the perishable items like fruits etc, finder has option to eat it or sell it and pay the price to the owner.  In regards to the money or any other lost objects i.e gold or silver, finder can keep it with trust and will make public announcement for one year. If owner does not show up, then finder can utilize that object but he will be liable to pay it back if owner comes back at any time afterwards. These ruling is according to the hadith narrated by Khalid al – Juhani (may Allah be pleased with him) .
Regarding about the ruling on picking up a lost object within Al-Haram, Scholars differs. It is because due to the hadith that Prophet (PBUH) said, “….it is not allowed to pick up its (Al-Haram) fallen things (i.e. the lost objects found there) except by a person who will look for its owner (by announcing having found it publicly)” and position of the Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyah is “The lost article within Al-Haram can never be owned by the one who picks it up and it is obligatory to make public announcement about it forever. It will also be worth mentioning here that if someone leaves any animal or object due to the lack of interest or its inability to afford it, it will belong to the one who finds and takes it.
Public Announcement Ruling:
It will be worth citing that making public announcement is obligatory upon the person who picks up the lost item.  In the above mentioned case when the finder makes the public announcement of lost object he should act upon the following instructions:

  1. He should have good knowledge of the object’s description so that when owner claims it he can give it back to him.
  2. He should announce in public places such as marketplace, in people’s assembly, outside the mosque (because it is prohibited to make such announcement inside the mosque ) and in meetings and gathering places.
  3. During the first week after having found it, person should make announcement every day about the lost article as it is more likely that owner will be looking for his lost item. After that week he is to follow the common convention in his making a public announcement for one year.
  4. It is impermissible to hand over that item to the person who tells incorrect description of the object.  
  5. If owner shows up after one year and states the exact description to the finder, it is obligatory upon him to return that object to the owner.

Imam Ibn Hajr, Bulugh Al-Maram Min Adillat Al-Ahkam, Dar Al-Manarah Egypt 2003, p.349

Lost items found on the ground and picked up by someone

Salih al-Fawzan, A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence2, p.193

Ibid, p.194

Imam Ibn Hajr, Bulugh Al-Maram Min Adillat Al-Ahkam, Dar Al-Manarah Egypt 2003, p.349

Salih al-Fawzan, A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence2, p.195

Ibid, p. 198

Ibid, p.197


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