Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
A few years a go I stole some books from a supermarket (astagfirullah). I want to give them back, but I prefer to give it back to a branch store (chain store?) which is located at another place. These two supermarkets have the same name and are from the same company. They only differ in location. Is this permissible?
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
I pray that this finds you well, and in the best of health and spirits. May Allah grant you all good and success in this life and the next.
If the supermarket branches are under the same ownership (as opposed to franchises under different ownership) this would be permitted–because one’s religious duties is to return all debts, trusts, and misappropriated money to their respective owners. [ Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar ]
Please search SunniPath Answers (http://qa.sunnipath.com) for related answers on how to return stolen and unlawful money.
And Allah alone gives success.