Announcing Luqatah in different ways

Q: The following situation emerged since we started running our company's buses inside and between cities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Many times, it happens that some passengers forgetfully leave some of their personal belongings including money on our buses. Accordingly, the company has a large quantity of personal belongings that the passengers lost. The company allocated a place for keeping such belongings even though some of them are valueless. Several months passed but no one came to receive their belongings. Some officials who are in charge of running the buses suggested various solutions but we preferred to raise the issue to your Eminence. Please provide us with your beneficial opinion as to what should be done regarding the personal belongings that passengers lose then we find them (Part No. 15; Page No. 451) on our buses; whether such belongings are in the form of money or not and whether they are valuable or not. Many thanks to your Eminence for enlightening us regarding the affairs of our honorable Shari`ah (Islamic law).

A: If the personal belongings which are found on the buses, whether items or money, have value that people are normally attached to and look for; you have to publicize them with all possible means. Examples of such means are to use advertisements that you can stick to your company's offices and cars, to enunciate the matter immediately after Jumu`ah (Friday) Prayer by the doors of nearby Masjids (mosques), and to make announcements in broadcasting or newspapers if you are able to do so. However, if a person claims any of these personal belongings and is able to describe its characteristics, it should be given to them. Otherwise, such items should be sold after one year has passed. The price thereof is to be possessed by the company which is permitted to donate it in charitable projects. If the person to whom the concerned item is due claims it afterwards, the company should tell them about the matter and the latter should approve of the Sadaqah (voluntary charity) or the company should pay them the value of their item. On the other hand, you do not have to publicize personal belongings which are of no value that people are normally attached to. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.