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Returning Stolen Items

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Fatwaa.com

Assalamu alaykum Mufti,

As all institutions are closed for Ramadhaan, I wonder if I can get advice for a sister who has an 11 year old daughter who she recently found out, has been stealing…just little things/money at school, home, from friends etc. The mum is a single parent with many health problems and she is very distressed. She is shocked because the little girl is so lovely and now the little girl is torturing herself with guilt. She has done tawbah and now they both want to know what to do about returning things. The mum obviously doesn’t want to inform the school or even tell friends.

When she asked for advice I felt that she is not baaligh so I’m almost sure she does not have to return what she stole…or does she?

As for tawbah and regret, its good but again she is not baaligh yet..what is the ruling I wonder?

And lastly how should the mum react/behave?

Answer

Wa’alaykum as Salām wa raḥmatullāhi wa barakātuhu,

It is good to note that the girl regrets her action from now rather than growing up with this despicable quality.

Although the girl is not bāligh, she has taken the property of others. Thus, the rightful owners are entitled to get back what they own.

The owners could be told that the girl acted in immaturity and took their items by mistake. She now regrets what she has done, has repented and is returning the items to its rightful owners. In all likeliness, many owners will not even mind, especially for things which are trivial.

If the owners cannot be located, then the stolen item should be given in charity without the anticipation of any reward.

The mother should discuss with the child and reinforce the abhorrence of stealing in her mind. Thereafter, she should give her hope that now since she repented she is starting with a ‘clean sheet’. Thus, there is no need to regret any further.


ثانيا : ما يسقط الحق في استرداد العين مع بقاء الحق في الضمان :
33 – استرداد العين هو الأصل لما يجب فيه الرد ، كالمغصوب ، والمبيع بيعا فاسدا ، فما دام قائما بعينه فإنه يجب رده .
بل إن القطع في السرقة لا يمنع الرد ، فيجتمع على السارق : القطع وضمان ما سرقه ؛ لأنهما حقان لمستحقين ، فجاز اجتماعهما ، فيرد السارق ما سرقه لمالكه إن بقي ؛لأنه عين ماله .
وقد يحدث في العين ما يمنع ردها وذلك باستهلاكها ، أو تلفها ، أو تغيرها تغيرا يخرجها عن اسمها ، وعندئذ يثبت الحق في الضمان ( المثل أو القيمة ) (الموسوعة
الفقهية الكويتية – (3 / 294)

And Allaah Ta’aala knows best
Wassalaam,
Ismail Moosa (Mufti)
Iftaa Department,
Euro-Sunni & Islamic Research and Welfare Academy

This answer was collected from Fatwaa.com which is an excellent Q&A site managed by Mufti Ismail Moosa from South Africa. .

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