Al-Luqata

1) Zaid b. Khalid al-Juhani reported: A man came to Allah’s Messenger (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) and asked him about picking up of stray articles. He said: “Recognise (well) its bag and the strap (by which it is tied), then make announcement of that for a year. If its owner comes (within this time, return that to him), otherwise it is yours.” He (again) said: “(What about) the lost goat?” Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet, Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) said: “It is yours or for your brother, or for the wolf.” He said: “(What about) the lost camel?” Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet, Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) said: “You have nothing to do with it; it has a leather bag along with it, and its shoes also. It comes to the watering-place, eats (the leaves of the) trees until its master finds it.”


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2) Zaid b. Khalid al-Juhani reported that a person asked Allah’s Messenger (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) about picking up of stray articles, whereupon he said: “Make announcement about it for a year, and recognise well the strap and the bag (containing that); then spend that; and if its owner comes, make him the payment of that.” He (the inquirer) said: “Messenger of Allah (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam), what about the lost goat?” He said: “Take it, for that is your or for your brother, or for the wolf.” He (again) said: “(What about) the lost camel?” The Messenger of Allah (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) was enraged until his cheeks became red (for his face became red) and then said: “You have nothing to do about that; it has feet and a leather bag (to quench its thirst) until its owner finds it.”

3) This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Rabi’a b. Abu ‘Abd al-Rehman with the same chain, of transmitter but with this addition: “There came a person to Allah’s Messenger (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) while I was with him, and he asked him about picking up of a stray article, and he said: When none comes to demand it, then spend that.”

4) Zaid b. Khalid al-Juhani reported: There came to Allah’s Mes­senger (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) a person, the rest of the hadith is the same but with the variation (of these words): His face became red, his forehead too, and he felt annoyed; and made an addition after the words: “He should make announcement of that for a year, and if its owner does not turn up, then it is a trust with you.”

5) Salama b. Kuhail reported: I heard Suwaid b. Ghafala say: I went out, and also Zaid b. Suhan and Salaman b. Rabi‘a for jihad, and I found a whip and took it up. They said to me: “leave it.” I said: “No, but I will make announcement of it and if its owner comes (then I will return that), otherwise I will use it,” and I refused them. When we returned from jihad, by a good fortune for me, I performed Pilgrimage, I came to Medina and met Ubayy b. Ka‘b, and reported to him the affair of the whip and their opinion (the opinion of Zaid b. Suhan and Salaman b. Rabi‘a) about it (i.e. I should throw it). Thereupon he said: I found a money bag during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (Sall Allah-o-alaihe wa sallam) which contained one hundred dinars. I came to him along with it, and he said: “Make an announcement of it for one year;” so I announced it, but did not find anyone who could (claim it after) recognising it. I again came to him and he said: “Make announcement for one year.” So I made announcement of it, but I found none who could recognise it. I came to him and he said: “Make announce­ment of it for one year.” I made announcement of that but did not find one who could recognise it, whereupon he said: “Preserve (in your mind) its number, its bag and its strap, and if its owner comes (then return that to him), otherwise make use of it.” So I made use of that. I (Shu‘ba) met him (Salaman b. Kuhail) after this in Mecca, and he said: “I do not know whether he said three years or one year.” [1]

 [1] The term Luqta signifies property which a person finds lying upon the ground and takes away for the purpose of preserving it, in the manner of a trust In ordinary circumstances, it is meritorious to keep it under one’s custody if one happens to find it.  According to some of the jurists, it becomes binding for a man to take the stray thing in his charge if it is liable to perish in case it is not preserved. So fat as the period of its preservation is concerned it is commonly for one year, but it can be extended to three years keeping in view the nature of the commodity. If the commodity is valuable and it is easy to preserve it, then the period is longer, otherwise it is Short. Then the trustee should make regular advertisement of the fact that he has found a stray thing and its owner, should come to him to take it.  At the end of the period, if he deems expedient, he should make use of that in case he is insolvent, or give it as charity if he is solvent. If the finder of a stray property discovers the owner, after having bestowed it in alms or given it as charity the owner has two things at his option: he may approve of and confirm the charity, or if the owner chooses he may claim it from the finder, but he can do this in case the finder is solvent enough to pay that back. It is laudable to secure and take care of stray goats and sheep, but not of oxen horses, and camels.  The argument of Imam Malik and Imam Shafi‘i is that originally it is not permissible to take the property of another, except when there is an apprehension of its being perished  Now in case of these animals, there is no such danger as they are capable of protecting themselves from the beasts of prey. But it is not the case with goats and sheep; these should be taken into custody when they go astray.  (For details see Hidaya), A. H. Siddiqi, (Sahih Muslim, Lahore: Sh. M. Ashraf, 1972, p. 806, n. 2202).

 

Source: Economic Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): A Select Anthology of Hadith Literature on Economics, Muhammad Akram Khan. Republished with permission