If some person finds a sum of money but none asks about it

Question:

Someone found five hundred Riyals in a street where there were no passers-by. He kept the money in the hope that its owner might show up and ask about it, which did not happen. He has had the money in his possession for one and a half months now. What should he do with it? Is he free to spend it or to spend one half and give the other half in charity to the poor and the needy, or should he deliver it to Bayt-ul-Mal (Muslim treasury)? What is the ruling on the person who finds a sum of money in Makkah Al-Mukarramah, Al-Ta’if, or Jeddah?

Answer:

One may pick up the money which he finds in the street. He must acquaint himself with its distinguishing features and make a public announcement for one year that he has found money. He may advertise it in the newspaper. He must deliver it to anyone who identifies its distinguishing features. This is based on the Hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied to a question about someone who finds Luqatah (a lost item found by someone else). He (peace be upon him) said: “Take note of its container and its tying material then make a public announcement about it for one year and if its owner comes, give it to him; otherwise use it as you like.” (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) 1

If the owner comes during the year of announcement, the finder must give it to him after asking him to identify its distinguishing features. However, the profit of the Luqatah may not be delivered to its rightful owner. It should be kept in the possession of the finder because it was made while in his possession.

The finder may make a one-year advertisement of the Luqatah by making a public announcement twice or thrice a month. This is not the case for a Luqatah which is found in Makkah: the finder has no right to use it freely. Only someone who constantly makes a public announcement for it may keep it in his possession. This is based on the Hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “…And picking up its fallen things is illegal except by him who makes a public announcement about it.2

May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.


  1. Al-Bukhari, Sahih, Book on Luqatah, no. 2430; Muslim, Sahih, Book on Luqatah, no. 1722; Ibn Majah, Sunan, Book on judgments, no. 2504; Ahmad, Musnad, vol. 5, p. 193; Malik, Al-Muwatta, Book on judicial decisions, no. 1482. 

  2. Abu Dawud, Sunan, Book on rituals, no. 2017; and Ahmad, Musnad, vol. 2, p. 238. 

  • Date: Muharram 11, 1442 AH
  • Source: Fatawa Al-Lajnah Ad-Da'imah no. 16482
  • Muftis: Shaykh Abdul-Aziz ibn Baz , Shaykh Abdul-Razzaq al-Afify , Shaykh Salih Fawzan , Shaykh Abdul-Aziz Aal al-Shaykh , Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd , Shaykh Abdullah ibn Ghudayyan