Causing unintentional damage to neighbors' property
Fatwa No: 354937

  • Fatwa Date:28-12-2017 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 10, 1439
  • Rating:

Question

Shaykh, today I committed what may be a very big sin! Here in my town, there are many monkeys who disturb us in many ways. Today, while I was laying in bed, a monkey suddenly started pulling my broadband wire, so I immediately went outside and threw something towards the monkey, but I missed it and it hit my neighbours electric meter. Some plastic of that meter is damaged (the meter itself is fine, praise be to Allah). I do not know whether that damage was already there or whether it was done by me. My mom said that the owner of that meter was working there a few days ago with a hammer and that another neighbourhood boy throws things to monkeys all the time when he sees them, so maybe he did that damage. They are very angry and rude people who actually do not pray. I am afraid to tell them as they may quarrel with us although the meter is ok. We are very simple people. The price of the meter is about $12-25 maybe, so what can I do? Should I give alms on their behalf or give that money to them anonymously? I am 90% sure that if I inform them about that damage their whole family may come to quarrel with us.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

If one makes a mistake, he does not bear sin for it, but it does not make him exempted from guaranteeing the rights of the people which he damaged. 

Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

The basis in regard to what is prohibited is that if a person does something out of forgetfulness in regard to the rights of Allah, he is not held accountable for it, because when the Muslims said (what means): {...Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred...} [Quran 2:286]; Allah said, ‘I have done so (as requested).' Moreover, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, 'Allah has forgiven my nation their mistakes and forgetfulness and what they are forced to do.' [Ibn Maajah] This is unlike the rights of the human beings, for they did not forgive their rights.

Also, as for the fact that the sinner is a simple person and that the owners of the right do not pray and have bad manners, then all this does not affect the obligation of guaranteeing their rights. Therefore, you must guarantee what you are sure that you damaged by giving back the value of the damage of the meter to its owners.

Al-Manthoor fi Al-Qawaa'id Al-Fiqhiyyah reads, “Al-Sayrafi said, ‘As for giving back what is guaranteed, then this is of two kinds… the second kind: when the item is damaged, then he pays back the value of the damage if the same as the damaged item is not available, such as a wheat whose part is missing [in which case one can give other wheat instead (of the same kind)].’

You do not have to tell them exactly what happened; rather, it is obligatory to give them the value of the damage by any means.

Ibn ‘Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

If a person takes something from his brother and then Allah enabled him to repent, then he must give it back to him by any means, but not a means that will cause harm. For example, if he stole one hundred dirhams from him and then he repented and wanted to return it to him; it is known that if he says that he stole this amount (100 dirhams) from him and that he repented to Allah and wants to give it back to him, this may lead to evil consequences. In this case, he may put the amount in an envelope and send it with a trustworthy friend and tell him ‘give it to such and such person, it is from someone who took from him before, and Allah blessed him with repentance; so here is the amount of 100 dirhams.” [excerpted from Fataawa Noorun ‘ala Ad-Darb]

As regards giving the value in charity while intending the reward for them, then this does not clear you of your liability, because giving charity while intending the reward for the owners of the rights is allowed when it is not possible to give the right back to them at all [like if they are dead or it is not possible to find them].

Allah knows best.

Related Fatwa