Q: My father borrowed a needle from a woman in the year 1350 A.H., as `Ariyah (permission to benefit from a borrowed article whose use is permissible, which is eventually returned to its owner) and promised to return it to her but he has not returned it to her until now. What should we do, given that we do not know whether the woman is alive or dead? He also borrowed a jar in
from one of the inhabitants of
and promised to return it to him but he did not find him when he returned to him and did not know him. The jar was empty when he took it in 1360 A.H., and it is still with him. Please enlighten us in this regard, we appreciate your advice.
Your father has to return the needle and the jar he has borrowed to the owners. If he does not find them, he should give them to the owners' inheritors. If he fails to find the inheritors, he should sell them and give their price in charity on behalf of the owners. If later on he finds any of them, he should tell them that he gave them in charity. If they accept it, it is ok. Otherwise, he should pay them the price and it will be considered charity for him. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.