My brotherin-law suffered a financial crisis three years ago so I sent him a sum of money. I do not remember whether this sum was from Zakaah or charity at that time. Now, he wants to return this money and he insists on this. I do not know why he is so insistent as he left this money for me with a friend after I refused to take it from him. Now, I need this money. Is it permissible for me to take it and what should I do with it?
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad , is His Slave and Messenger.
This sum of money belongs either to Zakah or charity. Based on the first possibility, you may not in any case whatsoever own it or use it. You should pay it to the poor and the needy who deserve it.
Based on the second possibility, what is understood from the words of the Maalikis and what is recommended by some scholars is that there is no blame upon you if you benefit from this sum because this is a charity for a specific person which was not accepted.
An-Nafraawi and other Maaliki scholars said: “The one who gives out a bit of bread to give it to a beggar then finds that he had left may not eat it. He should give it in charity to another person according to Maalik. Others said: it is permissible for him to eat it. Ibn Rushd combined between the opinions of Maalik and others as he interpreted the words of the scholars other than Maalik to mean that if he intended to give it to a specific person, he may eat it in the case of his absence or rejection. He interpreted the words of Maalik to mean that if he did not intend to give it to a specific person, he may not eat it. Rather, he should give it in charity to others because he did not specify who is to take it. This is a good way to reconcile the two opinions.”
However, since it is doubted whether this money belongs to Zakah or charity, there is no doubt that it is preferable and more pious to give it to the poor and the needy because based on the first possibility as mentioned above, you may not use it.
Allaah Knows best.
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