Please note: The answers on Hawramani.com constitute friendly advice rather than fatwas. Where relevant, we translate the opinions and fatwas of respected scholars and present them in our answers.

Can you donate cash you find on the street?

Assalamualaikum, my mother tends to find cash on the street floor randomly every once in a while, she gives it to charity after picking it up but my friends say it is wrongful to pick it up and do anything with it, even if it's to give to charity? Is this valid?

If the amount is small, it is permitted to pick it up and use it for one’s own benefit, or to donate it in charity. The definition of a small amount is different among the scholars. Imam Ahmad and some others say that the amount is not specified and depends on the custom of the people, while Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifa say the amount should be less than the price of 0.875 grams of gold (which amounts to $37.18 USD in current prices).

But if you pick it up and then the owner comes looking for it, it is obligatory to give it back to them.

If the amount is more than that, then the ruling is to keep the money for one year and to make it public that you have found money without telling people the amount. If the owner does not appear after one year, it is permitted to spend the money. But if the owner appears and can convincingly argue that it is their money, then it is obligatory to give it back to them, whether during that year or afterwards.

As for whether it is better to pick up found money or to leave it where it is, the scholars differ on this. Imam Ahmad believes it is better to leave the money, while the Imams al-Shafii, Abu Hanifa and Malik believe that picking it up is better.

References

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