If I purchased an item of a brother, and now he has moved away and there is no possible way of getting in touch with him or his family to pay for the item, or return it, what should I do with the money that I owe him? Is it just normal Sadaqah I should give it as, or is there a specific type of sadaqah that I need to give. After giving the Sadaqah, if I see him after a few years and I tell him I gave it as sadaqah but he requests his money anyway, am I required to give it?
Also, he told me that I should just take the item and pay for it later, but without specifying any time period in which to give it. Is the contract valid? If the purchase contract is invalid, what should I do with the item or the money? – and if I did meet him again, then what should I do with the item or money in that circumstance also.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh
If you cannot locate your friend, then you should dispense of the purchase price (Thaman) in charity on behalf of your friend. However, if your friend returns and claims for the purchase price of the item after dispensing of such funds in charity, then you are obligated to return the funds to your friend.
The relationship between you and your friend is that of purchaser and seller. The contract between you and your friend is valid and binding. However, in order to avoid disputes, the time period for paying should be stipulated.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Checked and Approved,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.