Answered by: Alimah Sofia Mirza
I bought an item off eBay marketplace, the seller sent a parcel to me which was not the item I bought, he sent me a different item. I opened a refund case with eBay, and the prepaid returns label was not adequate because it didn’t cover the item’s weight, I spoke to eBay and they notified the seller. The seller gave no response and a few days later eBay resolved the case in my favour; meaning I was given a full refund, and they said I could do as I wanted with the item.
As I did not consider it Islamically to be mine, as it was not the item I bought and likely to have been a mistake, I contacted the seller via personal messaging. He said to me he would pay me the cost of the postage. I refused because I do not want to make myself liable to be charged back (through PayPal) or liable if the delivery gets lost. I simply told him to send me the correct postage label with the correct address and weight that I can put on the box, and therefore send the parcel back to him. He has not responded since then even though he seems to have been active on eBay. How long do I hold onto this item if he isn’t bothering to pick it up or have it collected? It is a big item and it’s inconvenient. I thought I could send him a deadline to pick it up and then when the deadline passes I could sell it or dispose of it as I like. Is that Islamically acceptable? Reasonable time will be given such as 30 days. Please advise.
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
The item which you have informed the owner regarding and he has not claimed to take it, you may give it to charity or sell it and take the profit. If the owner decides to claim ownership later, you may give him the profit1. However, since the item was given to you in lieu of your money you may use it or sell it but the best method, if the owner is not responding despite consistent efforts, will be to give it to charity.
Only Allah knows best
Written by Alimah Sofia Mirza
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham
1 Fatawa Hindiyyah, Darul Fikr Beirut, vol 2, Pg. 290,
وَإِنْ كَانَتْ اللُّقَطَةُ مِمَّا يَحْتَاجُ إلَى النَّفَقَةِ إنْ كَانَ شَيْئًا يُمْكِنُ إجَارَتُهُ يُؤَاجِرُهُ بِأَمْرِ الْقَاضِي وَيُنْفِقُ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ الْأَجْرِ، كَذَا فِي فَتَاوَى قَاضِي خَانْ وَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ لَهَا مَنْفَعَةٌ أَوْ لَمْ يَجِدْ مَنْ يَسْتَأْجِرُهَا وَخَافَ أَنْ تَسْتَغْرِقَ النَّفَقَةُ قِيمَتَهَا بَاعَهَا وَأُمِرَ بِحِفْظِ ثَمَنِهَا، كَذَا فِي فَتْحِ الْقَدِيرِ. وَإِذَا جَاءَ صَاحِبُهَا وَطَلَبَهَا مَنَعَهَا إيَّاهُ حَتَّى يُوفِيَ النَّفَقَةَ الَّتِي أَنْفَقَ عَلَيْهَا، كَذَا فِي التَّبْيِينِ