Luqatah in Al-Haram is not to be picked up except by someone who will make a public announcement about it
My father accompanied my grandfather, may Allah have mercy upon him, to perform Hajj in Makkah Al-Mukarramah. My father dwelt in a tent with some of his friends. Once, he went out to bring water where he found a lady’s handbag. He took it and entered the tent. He found in it 500 Saudi riyals, some documents and the passport of an Egyptian lady. He decided to give the bag to the neighboring Egyptian tent, but some bad friends recommended him to take the money and he did. Then, before returning to Yemen, he put the handbag in a bus of Egyptian pilgrims.
This happened 20 years ago. Now my father wants to return this money but he does not know the address of the woman and he decided to give this money to a mosque to supply it with water. However, 100 Saudi riyals now equal 4200 Yemeni riyals, should my father, who is wealthy now, give this money in charity estimating its value at the time when he took it? At the time, 100 Saudi riyals equaled 130 Yemeni riyals. In addition, where should he spend that charity? Answer us, may Allah reward you with the best.
Your father was mistaken by taking the handbag and what was in it, because a Luqatah (a lost item found by someone else) in Al-Haram is not to be picked up except by someone who will make a public announcement about it. However, a long time has gone by and it is hopeless to find the owner of the money, so it is obligatory for your father to give the money in charity to the poor of Al-Haram on behalf of its owner and to repent to Allah for that.
May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.
Date: Muharram 11, 1442 AH
Source: Fatawa Al-Lajnah Ad-Da'imah no. 17654
Shaykh Abdul-Aziz ibn Baz
Shaykh Abdul-Aziz Aal al-Shaykh
Shaykh Abdullah ibn Ghudayyan
Shaykh Salih Fawzan
Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd