2628. If a person locates a lost property other than an animal, which does not possess any identifying features which can be used to locate its owner, albeit one amongst a specific group of people, and it value is less than one dirham (12.6 nukhud of minted silver), he may appropriate it for himself. In this case, it is not mandatory to search for its owner. However, the recommended precaution is that he should give it in charity to the poor on behalf of its owner.
2629. If a person locates a property that contains identifying features and its value is less than one dirham, then given that its owner is known, or one amongst a specific group of people, he may not appropriate it as long as he is uncertain of the owner’s consent. However, if the owner is completely unknown, he may appropriate it for himself. Obligatory precaution dictates that whenever the owner is identified, he should return it to him if it has not perished, and in the event that it has, he should give its replacement.
2630. When a person locates a property that contains identifying features which can be used to identify its owner, then regardless of whether the owner is a Muslim or a k¡fir whose property is protected, if the value of item is one dirham or more, it should be announced in a public area from the day it was found for a period of one year.
2631. If a person does not wish to make the announcement himself, he may request another person whom he trusts to make the announcement on his behalf.
2632. If the announcement is made for an entire year, and the owner is not located, then given that it was located in an area outside the sacred precinct of Makkah, he may safeguard it for its owner, with the intention of returning it to him when he is located. He may also choose to give it in charity to the poor on behalf of the owner, or appropriate it for himself. However, whenever the owner is located, he reserves the right to claim it. If however the item is located within the sacred precincts of Makkah, he must give it to the poor on behalf of its owner.
2633. If the announcement is made for an entire year, and the owner is not located, then if the finder safeguards the property for its owner, but if it perishes nonetheless, given that he was not negligent in guarding it, nor did he supersede his jurisdiction, he will not be held accountable for it. However, if he had appropriated it for himself, and it perished, then in the event that the owner comes forward and claims it, he will be accountable for it. If he had given it in charity, the owner may choose to consent to the act of charity, or claim a replacement for the item, in which case the reward for the act of charity will belong to the one who gave the charity.
2634. If one who locates a property fails to announce it in the prescribed manner then, in addition to having sinned, he is not excused of his responsibility, and must announce it in the prescribed manner.
2635. If an insane individual or a non-b¡ligh child locates an item that must be announced, his guardian may announce it in the prescribed manner. However, if he takes possession of it from the finder, announcing it becomes obligatory on him. After the passage of one year, he may choose to safeguard it for its owner, or appropriate it for the minor or the insane individual, or give it in charity to the poor on behalf of the owner. If the owner subsequently comes forward and does not consent to the act of charity, obligatory precaution dictates that the guardian should pay for its replacement from his own wealth.
2636. If a person loses hope in finding the owner during the year in which he is obligated to make the announcement, it is problematic to claim that he may appropriate it for himself. He may chose to give it in charity on behalf of the owner, and based on obligatory precaution he should seek the permission of the ¦¡kim al-shar‘iyy.
2637. If the item perishes during the year that he is obligated to make the announcement, then given that he was negligent in guarding it or superseded his jurisdiction, he will be held accountable for it. However, if he was not negligent, nor excessive, he will not be accountable for it.
2638. If a person locates an item that is valued at one dirham or more, and it is not possible to describe it, such as a case where the item contains identifying features, but is located in an area where it is known that the owner cannot be located by announcing it, or it does not contain any identifying features, then the finder can choose to give it in charity to the poor on behalf of the owner from the first day that he locates it. Obligatory precaution dictates that he should seek the permission of the ¦¡kim al-shar’iyy.
2639. If a person locates a property, and thinking that it belongs to him, he appropriates it for himself, but realizes later on that it did not belong to him, then the precepts of lost items that we elaborated in previous articles will be applicable to it.
2640. It is not necessary to mention the nature of the located item when making the announcement; rather, it is sufficient to announce that an item has been located, unless it is a case where the announcement would be futile without mentioning the nature of the located item, in the sense that it would not capture the attention of the person who has lost it.
2641. If a person locates an item, and another individual claims it to be his, and provides some of its identifying features, then the finder may only give it to him if he is confident that it belongs to him. In this case, it is not necessary for the claimant to describe the features that an owner would not commonly notice.
2642 If the located item is valued at one dirham or more, and the finder fails to announce it, and he places it in a mosque or some other location, where it perishes or another person takes it, then the finder will be held accountable for it.
2643. If a person locates an item which is perishable in less than a year, such as fruits and vegetables, obligatory precaution dictates that he should take care of it for the period that it does not incur any damage. If the owner is not located within that period, he should seek permission from the ¦¡kim al-shar’iyy or his deputy, and in the absence of these two individuals from the just individuals among the believers, if possible, to appraise and sell the located item. He may also choose to appropriate it for himself, but hold on to its payment. Obligatory precaution dictates that he should announce it for a period of one year from the day it is located. In the event that the owner is not identified, he should act in the manner prescribed in article 2632.
2644. If a person carries the located item with himself whilst performing wu¤u’ or offering his prayers, and has the intention of locating its owner and returning it to him, there is no problem in it. If he does not have such an intention, then exercising any discretion over it, including carrying it with himself is prohibited. However, the mere act of carrying it with himself does not void his prayers or his wu¤u’.
2645. If someone takes an individual’s shoes, and places another pair of shoes in its place, then if he knows or acquires confidence from the circumstances that the pair belongs to the person who took his shoes, and consents that his shoes be taken in lieu of the shoes that he took, then the individual may take those shoes in lieu of his own. The same will apply if he knows that the person has taken his shoes wrongfully and illegally. However, in this case, the value of the shoes should not be more than the value of his own shoes. If it is, then the laws of items whose owner is unknown will be applicable to the difference in value.
In other than these two cases, the laws of items whose owner is unknown will be applicable to the shoes.
2646. If the owner of the items that a person possesses is unknown, albeit as an individual amongst a specific group of people, and the term “lost item” does not hold true of it, it is mandatory upon him to locate the owner of the items until he loses hope in finding him. After losing hope in locating the owner, he may give it in charity to the poor. Obligatory precaution dictates that this should be conducted with permission from the ¦¡kim al-shar’iyy. If the owner comes forth after that, he will not be held accountable for the item.