Friday, December 30, 2011

Prophetic prohibition against economic monopolies

Monopoly, or Ihtikaar in Arabic, is a prohibited practice in Islam because it leads to injustice. The Prophet Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) has made explicit and specific statements about it. For example, he said: "Whoever withholds food (in order to raise its price), has certainly erred!" [Muslim] Also: "Whoever strives to increase the cost (of products) for Muslims, Allaah, the Exalted, will seat him in the center of the Fire on the Day of Resurrection." [Ahmad and al-Haakim]
Mu’aath  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said that he heard the Messenger of Allaah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) saying: "What an evil person is the one who withholds! If Allaah causes the prices to drop, he would be saddened, and if He causes them to climb, he would be excited." [Al-Bayhaqi] There are also Hadeeths that prohibit buying goods from trade caravans before reaching the city, and traditions that prohibit selling goods to persons unfamiliar with the market. These are types of monopolistic practices that have known negative effects upon the economic infrastructure.
As to buying goods from trade caravan merchants (who are unaware of current prices in the market), this is most analogous to what is known today as a "special monopolistic pact," under which consumers, typically, are harmed most.
As for selling goods to persons unfamiliar with the market, this works to create special markets in which the seller or supplier utilizes the consumer's lack of knowledge of the market and prices to his own end. Ibn Hajar al-Haythami  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: "It is said the reason this type of transaction is prohibited (i.e., buying goods from trade caravans) is the concern that the buyer will withhold the goods he purchases from others, and thereafter treat them unfairly and make it difficult for them."
The jurists are at variance as to what a monopoly includes. Is it specific to foods, or does it include everything?
The majority opinion, which is also most in line with the aims (maqaasid) of the Sharee'ah, is that the prohibited monopoly is one that inflicts harm on people and makes it difficult for them with the monopolist's intention to sell when prices soar, and at the highest possible price. Whoever does this would be considered a monopolist, and his deed is unlawful.
Imam Maalik  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: "Monopoly occurs in everything, including food products, jute, woolen or safflower products and the like; whatever, if withheld, would harm people, the withholder should be prevented from so doing, but if he is not harming (consumers) or their commerce, there is nothing wrong with it.
Imaam Yahya an-Nawawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: "The wisdom behind prohibiting monopolistic practices is to prevent the harm that would befall people as a result. Scholars are in agreement that if a person possesses items that people are in dire need of, and they can not find anyone else to supply it, he is to be forced to sell it in order to lessen the harm and remove difficulty from people."
Dr. Robi has clarified the conditions of the prohibited monopoly. He said: "After reading through judicial economic writings, we can conclude that the conditions of the prohibited monopoly according to the jurists' are as follows:
Increasing the price
Many traditions underline that the aim of the one who withholds is to increase the price. This can be understood from an economic perspective, since it is not feasible for withholder to undergo loss in order to purchase and store the product while part of it perishes besides the fact that he used his capital to purchase the products to later on sell it at the same price! This individual increases the price when people are in need of the product.
As for one who stores some products, to make them available at a time of need, and makes a small profit by increasing the prices, without harming the people; this person would indeed have brought about a good service to others.
This is, therefore, a form of permitted monopoly. Thus increasing prices of goods is not harmful in itself. In fact, prices of a product usually fluctuate during normal times, and may change from day to day, and can increase to meet normal inflation that is typical for the particular community the trading takes place in.
Monopolistic practice, on the other hand, manipulates a situation to intentionally increase prices suddenly and drastically.
Decreasing supply sufficiently
A known method, by which prices are increased, is increasing demand for a product so that this demand exceeds its supply, or, conversely, decreasing supply at a rate greater than the decreasing demand. Naturally, in this case, it is not feasible for the one who withholds the product to increase the supply, unless he decreases its cost, and he defeats his purpose in so doing. In such a case, he would not be able to make a profit unless he reduces its supply partially or totally for a period of time. The jurists differentiated various cases:
A. Controlling the supply of a product should not be confused with decreasing the supply. Controlling supply, which is lawful and occurs under normal circumstances, usually when products are readily available, is beneficial to both consumer and supplier, as is the case with agricultural goods.
B. Keeping stock for use should not be confused with stock kept for retail. Considering the jurists' definition of monopoly, we find that they restricted its meaning to buying products which are later withheld, with the intention of retailing them. Therefore, stocking products for personal use is lawful, for it does not disrupt the supply of the product or lead to price increases.
C. Large markets should not be confused with less important markets. The reason monopolies are prohibited is due to the harm and dangers that arise from them. Therefore, if withholding a product in a large market would cause harm, it would be considered a prohibited monopoly.
D. Importing goods should not be confused with withdrawing goods from the market. The majority of jurists agree that the importer of goods from distant markets is not a monopolist, as long as he does not cause harm. It is clear from the conditions of prohibited monopoly and textual proofs in the Sharee'ah that monopolies of all sorts would fall under the same ruling, for the following reasons:
1.     The traditions that mention prohibition of monopoly are general, and no distinction is made therein between food products and animals.
2.     The prohibition of the Messenger of Allaah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) regarding monopolies relating to foods is a ruling given to a common item which is monopolized. It does not mean that it is the only item that a monopoly is prohibited in, nor are the general traditions concerning this restricted by those traditions mentioning the prohibition of the Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) in foods.
3.     The reason monopolies are prohibited is the harm that arises from them; whenever this reason is present in food monopolies or other monopolies they are to be prevented.
4.     Restricting monopolies to foods alone allows monopolies in items that aid in their produce, such as fertilizers, agricultural machinery, and animals. By right, monopolies in these items should also be disallowed because they lead to monopolies in foods. In addition, present day economic conditions are more complex, specializations have broadened, work details have been divided, people are dependant upon others to fulfill many of their needs, and new products have been invented, which if not readily available cause disorder, and if monopolized cause harm.
For this reason, Abu Yousef, the great Hanafi jurist  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him was of the opinion that monopolies of all sorts are prohibited, as long as they harm people. In the language of present day economics it can be said that it is not lawful to play with supply of a necessary product which has no substitute.
Examples of monopoly
Monopoly cannot be restrictively and exhaustively defined due to its many types, but it is possible to cite some of the examples the jurists mentioned when they talked about monopoly.
1.     Monopolizing the production of a product, whether individually or by a group, so as to control pricing, supply, and competitive production.
2.     Monopolizing certain services and trades, such that a certain group has the arrogation of a monopole. Thus they can prevent others from providing that service or trade, or they will not provide their services, while the Ummah is in a dire need of them.
Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: "If people are in need of farmers, tailors, or construction services, this work is compulsory upon them if the ruler forces them to do so, after they refuse to accept reasonable charges in lieu of their services. It is not lawful for them to ask for more than that sum for their services."
He said: "Moreover, if people are accustomed [or, have restricted access] to foods and other products being sold only by certain people, in such a case it is a must that pricing be controlled, such that they can only sell at reasonable cost."
Ibnul Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: "A horrid form of oppression is the renting out of shops on the sides of roads, or in villages, for a certain price and with the condition that no one sells a certain product except the one who rents out the shops. This oppression is prohibited upon the one who rents the shop out and upon the one who rents it....So too [is their prohibition] when people are habituated to foods or other products being sold only by certain people, and wholesalers sell only to them, and these wholesalers then sell the products in retail at their own prices, while anyone besides them who sells these products are punished and prevented from doing so. This indeed is oppression and corruption which has spread in the lands."
Some researchers have commented on this passage saying: "The matter which Ibn al-Qayyim is considering here is exclusive commercial or business representation, which is common in Islamic countries."
3.     Agreed monopoly, wherein buyers or sellers agree to monopolize an industry. Ibnul Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: "Many scholars, such as Abu Haneefah and his companions, have disallowed those who divide real estate and other things for a fee, to unite under a coalition [or cartel], for if they do so, and people are in need of their services, they will increase their rate." Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:"'Also, buyers should be prevented from agreeing to purchase what one of them purchases until nothing is left in the market." Ad-Dusooqi, the Maliki jurist  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him describes another form of price-fixing that occurs in auctions: "It is not lawful for a buyer to secretly agree with others not to raise the price of a product for him in an auction."

Why Drugs are Prohibited in Islam

The objectives of Islam include preserving the religion and the human soul, honor, mind and wealth. Any substance or act that harms any of these five matters is considered unlawful in Islam.
The enemies of Islam and humanity have fought against this religion, and have attempted to distance Muslims from their religion using different means. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {They ask you concerning fighting in the Sacred Months (i.e. 1st, 7th, 11th and 12th months of the Islaamic calendar). Say, `Fighting therein is a great (transgression) but a greater (transgression) with Allaah is to prevent mankind from following the way of Allaah, to disbelieve in Him, to prevent access to Al-Masjid Al-Haraam (at Makkah), and to drive out its inhabitants, and Al-Fitnah is worse than killing.' And they will never cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion (Islaamic Monotheism) if they can. And whosoever of you turns back from his religion and dies as a disbeliever – for those, their deeds have become worthless in this world and the Hereafter....} [Quran 2: 217].
The enemies of Islam and humanity fully recognise the fact that the sole source of the Muslims' strength lies in their commitment to Islam. Thus, they use the most evil and lowly means in order to control and corrupt the Muslim nation. They realize that the quickest means to destroy the Muslim youth is by using the weapon of desires: seductive women, alcohol and drugs.
The worst, and most effective, of these has beenthe weapon of drugs, because it is directed at the heart of the Muslim nation and its protective shield, the youth who shoulder the responsibility of protecting the Muslim nation and advancing it on the path to progress. When the youth are destroyed, the entire nation heads to destruction, and it becomes easy pickings for anyone to eat from and devour its resources and wealth
Islam prohibits the use of all types of intoxicants, whether in the form of a drink, pills, drops, inhaled substances, needles, etc. The evidences for the prohibition are as follows:
· Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write (i.e. Muhammad) whom they find written with them in the Tawraat (Torah) (Deut, xviii 15) and the Injeel (Gospel) (John, xiv 16), ـ he commands them for Al-Ma`roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained); and forbids them from Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden); he allows them as lawful At-Tayyibaat (i.e. all good and lawful as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons and foods), and prohibits them as unlawful Al-Khabaa'ith (i.e. all evil and unlawful as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons and foods), he releases them from their heavy burdens (of Allaah's Covenant with the Children of Israel), and from the fetters (bindings) that were upon them. So those who believe in him (Muhammad), honour him, help him, and follow the light (the Quran) which has been sent down with him, it is they who will be successful.}[Quran 7: 157] and there is no doubt that drugs come under the definition of Khabaa’ith.
· Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly except it be a trade amongst you, by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allaah is Most Merciful to you.}[Quran 4: 29]. It has been proven scientifically that consuming drugs eventually leads to death.
·  Umm Salamah,  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her narrated, “The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) prohibited anything which makes a person drunk or feeble (or causes numbness to the brain).” [Ahmad].
Muslim scholars over centuries have also condemned the use of intoxicating and hallucinogenic substances.
·              Ibn Taymiyyah,  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, "Hashish is prohibited whether it causes a person to lose control over his mind or not; it is worthier in being prohibited than alcohol because its harm is more than that of alcohol."
·              Shaykh Muhammad Aal Ash-Shaykh, may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, "Ibn Hajar conveyed the statements of all four Imaams of jurisprudence who prohibited drugs."
·              Shaykh Jaad Al-Haqq, the grand Mufti of Egypt, said on 4/5/1399 A.H., "It is the consensus of all Muslim scholars that producing all types of drugs, planting them, trading in them or using them is prohibited, and that the one who does any of that should be punished."

Common mistakes made during Jumu'ah

Many of us go to the mosque on Friday as a matter of tradition and habit, without making the intention of worship, whereas an intention is a precondition for the Jumu'ah prayer and all other acts of worship.Increasingly, we see people staying up late, which causes them to miss Fajr prayer, leaving them to start their day having committed a great major sin, while the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), said: “The best prayer in the sight of Allaah is the congregational Fajr prayer on Friday."
People might commit mistakes out of ignorance or negligence, among which are the following:
  • Slighting the attendance of the Jumu'ah sermon; some people arrive during the sermon and others arrive while people are praying.
  •  Abandoning or slighting praying the Jumu'ah prayer. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Let those who abandon attending the Jumu'ah prayer refrain from doing so, or Allaah will seal their hearts and they will become heedless."[Muslim].
  • Neglecting bathing, perfuming, wearing ones best clothing and using the Siwaak.
  • Shopping or engaging in trade after the Athaan (call for prayer) has been called for the Jumu'ah sermon, while Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {"O you who believe (Muslims)! When the call is proclaimed for the Salaat (prayer) on Friday (Jumu`ah prayer), come to the remembrance of Allaah [Jumu`ah religious talk (Khutbah) and Salaat (prayer)] and leave off business (and every other thing). That is better for you if you did but know."}[Quran, 62:9].Ibn 'Abbaas,  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said, "It is forbidden to buy or sell at that time."
  • Some people commit certain sins while thinking they doing something praiseworthy, such as those who shave their beards on Friday because it looks "cleaner ".
  • Sitting in the courtyard of the mosque while there is space for inside.
  • Making people move and sitting in their place. Jaabir, may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), said: "Let no one move his brother on the day of Jumu'ah and sit in his place, instead he should say: 'make space.'"[Muslim].
  • Passing over people's shoulders, forcefully separating people in order to sit between them, and harming people by forcing them into cramped spaces. The Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said to a man who was passing over people's shoulders during the Jumu'ah sermon: "Sit down, because you have harmed people."
  • Talking or reciting the Quran in a loud voice and thereby disturbing others who are praying or reciting the Quran.
  • Leaving the mosque after the Athaan has been called without a valid excuse.
  • Not paying attention to what the Khateeb is saying during the sermon.
  • Praying two Rak'ah (units of prayer) between the two sermons, whereas the Sunnah is to supplicate and seek forgiveness until the Imaam stands up to deliver the second sermon.
  • Unnecessary movements during prayer, hastening to leave the mosque immediately after praying and pushing people at the door to leave without finishing the prescribed supplications after praying.
Mistakes of Imaams:
  • Making the sermon long and shortening the prayer. 
  • 'Ammaar, may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that he heard the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) saying: “The lengthening of the prayer (by the Imaam) and the shortness of the Khutbah (sermon) is the sign of his understanding (of faith), so prolong your prayers and shorten your speech; indeed some khutbahs have the effect of magic (i.e., they are very powerful).” [Muslim].
  • Not being well prepared for the sermon and not choosing the correct topic that addresses people's concerns.
  • Having numerous linguistic errors in the Khutbah.
  • Using narrations that are weak or fabricated, and quoting disliked opinions without denouncing them.
  • Limiting the second sermon to contain supplications only.
  • Not using any verses from the Quran during the sermon, which opposes the Sunnah (Prophetic tradition).
  • Failing to deliver a stirring sermon, while it is reported by Jaabir  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him, when he described the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), he said, "Whenever the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) used to deliver the Jumu'ah sermon, he would raise his voice; his eyes would become red and he would become excited as though he was warning people against a conquering army which was just about to attack them." [Muslim].

The significance of Hijaab

It often occurs to me that many of our sisters in Islam are not correctly enlightened or encouraged once they begin to observe the requirements of Hijaab (Islamic women's dress). It may be that a sister has been obliged to wear the Hijaab without truly pondering over its superiority and uniqueness.
Perhaps she has reached the age of puberty and her parents have instructed her to wear it. Perhaps she has recently accepted Islam and her close companions have told her of its obligation, or perhaps her husband has commanded her to wear it.
A sister who does not truly know the superiority of Hijaab will always remain envious of disbelieving women. Why? Because they observe these misguided disbelievers attempting to look beautiful for all to see. Hence, the Muslim woman then compares herself to that woman, which causes her to feel ashamed of her own Hijaab.
Therefore, what follows is a reminder for my sisters in Islam. It is a reminder of the true status of these so-called beautiful women. It is a reminder of the excellence of the women who wear Hijaab.
Excellent Qualities of Those who Wear Hijaab:
It is well known that the Muslim woman is a creature of modesty. Allaah loves for our Muslim women to be shielded by their Hijaab. It is their outer protection from the decadence of this life. Allaah’s Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Allaah is modest and covering. He loves modesty and privacy.” [Ahmad and Others]
Thus, as modesty is a quality that is loved by Allaah, our sisters must take comfort in knowing that they are modest and not like those women who show themselves off to the world. Such women will not be shielded from Allaah’s wrath. Allaah’s Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Any woman who takes off her clothes in other than her husband’s home, has broken Allaah’s shield upon her.”[Abu Daawood and At-Tirmithi[
Therefore, we see that the Hijaab of the Muslim woman is indeed part of modesty. Modesty accompanies Eemaan (faith); this is why the Messenger of Allaah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Modesty is part of Eemaan and Eemaan is in Paradise.” [At-Tirmithi] Also: “Modesty and Eemaan are (intimate) companions: when one departs, so does the other.” [Al-Haakim and Others]
The Muslim woman must know that the disbelieving women who beautify themselves for the whole world to see possess no modesty; thus, they are void of any Eemaan. Instead of looking to the latest fashion models for guidance, she should look to the wives of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ).
Look at the regard for modesty that our mother, ‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her possessed, even in the presence of the deceased; she said: “I used to enter the room where the Messenger of Allaah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) and my father, Abu Bakr, were buried without wearing my (outer) garment, saying that it was only my husband and my father. But when ‘Umar bin Al-Khattaab was later buried (in the same place), I did not enter the room except that I had my outer garment on, due to being shy of ‘Umar.”
It could be quite difficult for the Muslim woman to go out wearing Hijaab in a society that mocks and torments her. She would certainly feel strange and incongruous. However, if she realises the status of those who are mocked by the disbelievers, then she would continue to wear her Hijaab with dignity.
Allaah Says in His Book (what means): “Indeed, those who committed crimes used to laugh at those who believed. And when they passed by them, they would exchange derisive glances. And when they returned to their people, they would return jesting. And when they saw them, they would say: 'Indeed, those are truly lost.' But they have not been sent as guardians over them. So Today [i.e., the Day of Judgement] those who believed are laughing at the disbelievers, on adorned couches, observing. Have the disbelievers [not] been rewarded [this Day] for what they used to do?” [Quran: 83:29-36]
These words of Allaah should serve as a support for you, my dear sister. Also, take comfort in being a stranger among these lewd and sinful women. Allaah’s Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Islam began as something strange, and it will revert to (its old position of) being strange, so good news is for the strangers.” [Muslim]
The Characteristic of the Exposed:
Instead of wearing the Hijaab (covering), the disbelieving women expose themselves, making a dazzling display of themselves for others. Such a display is an attribute of ignorance. Allaah Says in His Book (what means): “And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance…”[Quran 33:33]
Allaah’s Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “The best of your women are the affectionate, the fertile, the comforting, and the agreeable – if they fear Allaah. The most evil of your women are those who expose and display themselves, and those who strut (to show off), and they are the hypocrites. Those who enter Paradise are like the red beaked crow.” [Al-Bayhaqi] The mentioning of this kind of crow is to highlight that those who enter Paradise will be as rare as this kind of crow.
We see from the above verse and Hadeeth (prophetic statement) that it is certainly unlawful for a Muslim woman to make a display of herself. Further, it is a quality of the most evil of women. Therefore, do not be envious of the disbelieving women. They only have this life to enjoy, while the believing women will have Paradise. There is nothing in your Hijaab to be ashamed of as it is the garment of the righteous and pious female worshippers of Allaah.
In order to truly show how evil those women who expose themselves are, let us ponder over the following statement of Allaah’s Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ): “Of the people of Hell, there are two types that I have never seen; the first are those holding whips like the tail of an ox with which they flog people. The second are women who would be naked despite being dressed (i.e. either partly dressed or wearing translucent clothes), who are seduced and who seduce others. Their hair is high like the humps of a camel. These women will not enter Paradise, nor will they smell its fragrance, although its fragrance can be smelled from such and such a (very far) distance.”[Muslim]
These women who expose themselves are common among us today. These are women that even the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) did not see! Look around you and you will see those women who are clothed but naked! Look at the hair styles of the women who expose themselves – are they not high like a camel’s hump?
Perhaps we are the first generation since the time of Aadam  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention to witness such women. If one ponders over photographs taken thirty to fifty years ago, he will see that the disbelieving women did not expose themselves in the manner that their offspring do today! These women are among the people of the Fire! Thus, how can you envy them?
Therefore, the Muslim men should not let the people of the Fire affect the modesty of their wives, daughters and sisters. Such lewd women will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise, so our women must avoid their path.
Another lesson from the above Hadeeth is that it confirms that what the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) came with is indeed the truth! This is a prophecy that has come to pass in front of our very eyes. Hence, will we continue to envy these evil women, or should we be grateful to our Lord for the Hijaab, which brings modesty which leads to Paradise?
On the whole, the Muslim woman should abandon all of the ways of the exposed, and adopt the ways of those who are modest through their love and practice of the proper Islamic Hijaab

The Islamic ruling on Al-Luqatah (lost and found)

Linguistically, 'Al-Luqatah' refers to anything that is found and picked up from the ground. Technically, as Imaam Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him a Muslim scholar, defined it as: 'Property that the owner loses and a person finds and takes away (to preserve it in trust).'
Legal Validity
Muslim scholars vary about the ruling. The Hanafi and Shaafi'i jurists maintain that it is better to pick up a lost property because a Muslim is duty-bound to preserve his Muslim brother's property, as evidenced by the saying of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) when he was asked about Al-Luqatah: "Remember the description of its container and the string with which it is tied. Make a public announcement of it for one year. If nobody comes and claims it, then utilise the money but keep it as a trust with you. And if its owner comes back one day seeking it, then return it to him." [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
According to the Maaliki and Hanbali jurists, it is a Makrooh (disliked) act to take away such property. This is also the opinion of Ibn 'Umar and Ibn 'Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them. They argued that by taking away such lost items, one is bound to use something that is deemed unlawful. They also argued that one may not be able to undertake his duty efficiently regarding it, in terms of advertising it, returning it to its lawful owner and preserving it.
Its Ruling in Terms of Liability
Al-Luqatah remains a trust with the person who finds it and keeps it, and he is deemed liable for it only if he abuses it. He is also deemed liable for it if he gives it to somebody else without the permission of a judge. If it is damaged while still in the finder's possession, after publicly announcing that he has found it and asking people to refer its rightful owner to him, then he is not deemed liable for such damage because he volunteered to preserve it in trust. The Ahaadeeth (prophetic statements) on this issue are very clear. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said in the above-quoted Hadeeth: "...But keep it as a trust with you".
Types of Al-Luqatah
1. If it is an animal, the finder should see if it is able to protect itself or not. If it is able to, then he is not allowed to take it away. When the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was asked about the Islamic ruling concerning a lost camel, he replied: "It is none of your concern. Leave it, for it has its feet and a water-container (reservoir), and it will reach water and eat from the trees until its owner finds it." [Al-Bukhaari]
However, if the lost animal is not able to protect itself, such as a sheep, a sick camel or a horse with a broken leg, the finder is allowed to take it away. When the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was asked about the ruling concerning a lost sheep, he replied: "Take it, for it is either for you, or for your brother (i.e., its owner), or for the wolf." [Al-Bukhaari]
2. As for lost property that is not an animal, such as money of an unknown owner, one should consider the following rulings:
The Ruling Concerning Trivial Fallen Items
For trivial items such as a loaf of bread, a whip, a date or anything that people generally do not claim when they lose, according to the predominant custom, the person who finds such an item is allowed to claim it as his own without publicly announcing it. He is also allowed to utilise it. Jaabir bin 'Abdullaah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him who was one of the Prophet's companions, said: "The Messenger of Allaah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) allowed us to utilise (such trivial objects as) a rod, a whip and a rope if we found it." [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
Announcing Lost Property Publicly
a) If someone finds an object, he should acquaint himself with the features that distinguish it from all similar objects. This will allow him to identify the right owner if he comes to claim it and asks him about its distinguishing features.
b) If he knows its distinguishing features, he should advertise it in public places, markets and outside Mosques, but not inside the Mosques, as this is deemed a Makrooh act. He should then wait for a year.
How should the finder be compensated for announcing, publicising or maintenance expenditure?
Hanafi and Hanbali jurists maintain that the finder should incur such expenses. Imaam Maalik  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him maintained: "The owner is to be given two options: either to reclaim it from the person who has found it, by paying him back for what he has spent on it, or to give it to him in return for the expenses incurred." Shaafi'i jurists say that the judge takes the money from the public treasury of the Muslim state and gives it to the finder of the lost property to use it for advertising purposes, or the finder may borrow this money and would consider it as a loan to the owner.
Returning Lost Property to the Person Who Claims It
If someone comes and claims that the lost property is his, its finder should ask him about its distinguishing characteristics. If the claimant adequately describes it and distinguishes it from similar items, or if he proves to him with clear evidence that it belongs to him - by describing its container or the string with which it is tied, for instance - then the finder should return it to him, as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said by way of example: "If its owner shows up and satisfactorily describes its container, the string with which it is tied and the amount of money in it, then return it to him." [Muslim]
A question arises here: After the claimant provides a satisfactory description of the lost property, should the finder return the property to him or should he take him to a judge to establish the evidence and act upon the judge's decision? According to the Hanafi and Shaafi'i schools of Fiqh (jurisprudence), the finder of the lost property is not obliged to return it. The followers of the Maaliki and Hanbali schools of Fiqh have stated that he is obliged to return it to its owner if the latter gives a satisfactory description of it, in accordance with the dictates of the prophetic tradition mentioned above.
Claiming Lost Property as One's Own
The finder of the lost property can claim such property as his own if he still has it, or he can claim its price as his own in case he sold it after advertising it for the required period of time. In such a case, he should give it or give its value to the owner should the latter come forward to claim it, as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said in this regard: "Advertise it for a year. If nobody claims it, then utilise it, and keep it with you as a trust." One is not allowed to claim it as his own without advertising it for a full year.
Some scholars argue that it is not permissible to consider lost property as one's own, and whoever finds it should, after advertising, give it in charity to the poor because it is considered other people's property, and it is not permissible to use it without its owner's consent, in accordance with prophetic textual evidence: the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "A Muslim's property is not lawful (for another Muslim) without the former's own free will." He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) also said: "Lost property is not lawful. Whoever finds it should advertise it for a year. If its owner shows up and claims it, he (the finder) must return it to him; if he does not show up, he should give it in charity." [Al-Bazzaar and Ad-Daaraqutni]