How to Return Money She Took Without Due Right
Fatwa No: 379456

Question

Assalamu'alaykum. I'm sorry to send the same question, but this is not the same case with my previous question, please answer it with a different fatwa. I gave in charity the money I took with no right to release myself from liability because I am unable (or having difficulty) to find and meet them. But, how far am I supposed to try to find them? Lately I remembered one of their facebook and I'm trying to contact her to seek pardon (is it necessary for me to seek pardon because I took the money openly?), is this enough? What if they do not reply me? Also, I know one of them lives in the same town as mine, but I do not know where they are, so is it enough if I gave money on their behalf to charity? Am I obliged to find them on social media and contact them?

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.

In general, rights must be given back to their owners, as this is a condition for repentance to be complete.

One should exert all efforts to find the owners (or their heirs after their death), and there is no set period for the search process. However, it is sufficient to search until one believes that they have predominantly exhausted all means to find them.

One should utilize all means, like social media and other means, to find them. If there is no way to find them, then it would be good if one spends that right out in charity on their behalf.

If you try to reach them through Facebook or any other means and you fail, then you have done your part. If they respond to you, then you need to tell them that you spent the amount in charity on their behalf; if they approve of what you did, then that is fine, otherwise, you must give them their right back and the reward for the charity you spent will be for you.

If you have no money to give them, then the amount will remain as a debt on you to them.

Allah knows best.

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