Taking Papers From Their Workplace
Fatwa No: 384106

Question

I have been using paper at my home for my personal purposes. I thought my parents bought it, but then they said to me that these papers are from their workplace and it is actually forbidden to take. I have no idea since when did they do this, but I think they did it only in the past few months or year, less than 3 years. Do I have to return them in the form of money even though I just came to know now? Another queston, what if someone took the item or money that I left as a form of return

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.

The employee is entrusted with what is under his control. As part of preserving the trust, one should not use the equipment of work for personal use except with the permission of the employer –whether the permission is explicit or that it is customary known at work that using them does not require an explicit permission.

The papers that your parents had brought from their working place may be something about which they were given permission, whether explicitly or per the custom. Therefore, it is not obligatory to return the papers to the employer (or others), or to replace them.

Nevertheless, if they had unjustly taken those papers without permission, then they are not permitted to do that; in which case, it is an obligation to return the same amount of papers to the employer, even indirectly. The Islamic rule about what has been transgressed and damaged of the right of others –either by taking it by force, theft, and the like –is that if there is a similar item, then it should be guaranteed with the similar item, and if it is not something which one can replace, then it is guaranteed by paying its value.

The conclusion here, regardless of the difference of opinion of the jurists about who is the guarantor, is that in order to be on the safe side, it is better to inform your parents that you will return to their work place the same amount of papers that they had taken and used. In this case, you can return the papers without informing the employer of what your parents had done. You can simply put the papers where they usually place them.

Do not put their value as we have mentioned, because the items that have their match should be guaranteed by similar items.

If another person takes the right of the employer after you put those papers in their places, then he is the one who is sinful and the one who must guarantee them and not you.

At-Taaj wal Ikleel ‘Al Mukhtasar Khaleel, when writing about the one who transgressed a trust (deposit) and then put it back to its place that he is acquitted from sin by doing so; as it reads:

"If a person takes, as a loan, the entire trust that he was entrusted with (given to guard), and then he put it back in its place, then he is acquitted from sin whether he had taken it as a loan or otherwise, and he is not sinful if it is destroyed/damaged/stolen after he had put it back to its place.” [End of quote]

Allah knows best.

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