He stole a lot of money

Q: In the past, I used to steal livestock when I was very poor (Part No. 15; Page No. 339) and ignorant. I used to sell the stolen livestock at low prices compared to the prices of that time. Now I want to repent to Allah (Exalted be He), please Him and seek His Pardon. I hope you will advise me regarding the following: How can I give stolen livestock back to their owners while I do not know what and how many livestock I have stolen? To whom should I give them back while I do not know the owners or the inheritors of the owners? Also, I do not know the value of the stolen cattle; I do not even know whether I have to give their value at today's price or at the price when I stole them. Is there a fair way to determine their value? How can I free myself of responsibility for all the stolen livestock regardless of their unknown value and number?

A: First, you have to return to Allah (Exalted be He) in sincere repentance, abandon your sin, regret it and intend not to do it again. Second: you have to give back the value of the livestock you have stolen to their owners or to the inheritors of the owners at the same price when you stole them. If you know the value of the livestock, yet do not know the owner nor his inheritors, you have to give the value in charity on behalf of the owner of the stolen livestock. Later, if you come to know the owner of the livestock, you should tell him that you have given the value of the stolen livestock in charity on his behalf. If he accepts that it will be good, otherwise you will have to pay the value of the livestock to him and the reward of charity will be yours. As regards the livestock which you have stolen and you do not remember how many they were, we hope that Allah (Exalted be He) will forgive you for them. However, you have to offer a great deal of charity, do good deeds, remember Allah (Exalted be He) and seek His Forgiveness because doing righteous deeds removes the evil deeds. May Allah grant all of us sincere Repentance and forgive all Muslims. (Part No. 15; Page No. 340) Allah (Glorified be He) says, And verily, I am indeed forgiving to him who repents, believes (in My Oneness, and associates none in worship with Me) and does righteous good deeds, and then remains constant in doing them, (till his death). May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.