Picking money from the street
Mu'meneen Brothers and Sisters,
As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)
One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:
Salam Alekum bro,
I hope this mail finds you in the best of conditions. Well, I gatta a question about picking money on a way. What is the Islamic teaching about this action? If I pick that money, is it wrong for me to pay off my debts if I have some? Thank you brother.
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Picking money from the street
In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad(saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
It would be illegal and immoral in Islam for a believer to keep and use for himself the money one finds on the streets. If one finds some money or anything of value on the streets which does not belong to him, he must report the find to the relevant legal authorities who will safeguard it until the actual owner is found. To take or consume it would tantamount to theft.
If one finds money or anything valuable which does not belong to him, and is unable to report or deposit it with the legal authorities for any reason, he must try his best to locate its original owner and return his property to him. If the believer is unable to locate the owner even after trying his best for a considerable amount of time, he may spend what he has found in charity with the intention that Allah Subhanah credit the reward of the charity to the original owner.
But it would be absolutely illegal and tantamount to theft if one were to pick up money which does not belong to him, and use it to pay off his own debts or use it for any other of his personal needs or wants. Such a person will have a severe accounting in the Just Court of Allah Subhanah on the Day of Judgement.
Vol 3, Book 42. Lost Things Picked Up By Someone (Luqaata). Hadith 615.
Narrated By Zaid bin Khalid Al-Juhani : A man asked Allah's Apostle about the Luqata. He said, "Make public announcement of it for one year, then remember the description of its container and the string it is tied with, utilize the money, and if its owner comes back after that, give it to him." The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What about a lost sheep?" Allah's Apostle said, "Take it, for it is for you, for your brother, or for the wolf." The man asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What about a lost camel?" Allah's Apostle got angry and his cheeks or face became red, and said, "You have no concern with it as it has its feet, and its water-container, till its owner finds it."
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.
Your brother in Islam,