Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan
Question: My family sometimes take things like towels/bedsheets from hospital stays or fails to return something friends let them borrow. Sometimes this happens just out carelessness or forgetfulness, and sometimes intentionally because they don’t consider this a sin. My question is: in order to rid our household of haram income and possessions, would it be permissible for me to quietly return those items to the place they came from without my family and the owner of the item knowing.
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.
Unless the items are customarily considered things people can take, you should return the items to their rightful owners. You can call first to see if they even want the items back, and if so how they can be returned.
I see no reason to hide it from your family since you mention they do it out of carelessness or forgetfulness, or with the intention of borrowing. Give them sincere advice that they should stop taking things wrongfully, in an effective and non-confrontational manner, yet do so once so as not to cause problems. Avoid getting into disputes, and fulfill everyone’s rights.
And Allah knows best.