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Friday 24 November 2017  
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In Debt to a Person who cannot be found
Question:

I used to work in Jordan before the year 1950 C.E. and I went on vacation to the Kingdom and purchased a wool cloak for my colleague, whose name was 'Ubaid Al-Mutairi for the some of fifteen Jordanian Dinars, on the understanding that I would pay him this sum after I return from my vacation. So I left, and when I returned from my vacation, I did not find my colleague from whom I had purchased the cloak from. I asked about him and was told that he had gone on holiday to Kuwait, but he did not return. After that, I left my job in Jordan and returned to the Kingdom, having left my address with my other colleagues there, so that they might inform him if he should return, but he has not contacted me, nor requested his right since that time, and I do not know anything about him whatsoever, so what should I do when I am in debted to this man for the sum of fifteen Jordanian Dinars?
Answer:

The answer is that he must ask those who knew him and exert all your efforts until you find his address and then send him the sum of the money which is in your possession, or travel to him in Kuwait in order to give him his right, based on the saying of the prophet (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam):

"All of the Muslim is sacred to the Muslim; his blood, his property and his honour." (Muslim No. 2564)

It is not permissible for you to be negligent in this matter. If you fail and are unable to find him in Kuwait or anywhere else, then give charity on his behalf in trust for him. Then if you find him, give him the choice between receiving his right - in which case, the reward of the charity will be for you - or his giving the money in charity - in which case, the reward will be for him, according to the Words of Allah, Most High:

"So keep your duty to Allah and fear him as much as you can" [At-Taghabun 64:16]

and the Words of Him, the Almighty, the All-Powerful:

"Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope" [Al- Baqarah 2:286]

Shaykh `Abdul-`Azeez Bin Baz
Fatawa Islamiyah, volume 5 / page 27
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