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Ruling 2599

If a person is in possession of some property that belongs to an unknown owner and it is not regarded as being ‘lost property’, then in case he is confident that the owner would consent to him having use of the property, it is permitted (jāʾiz) for him to use the property in any way to which he knows the owner would consent. Otherwise, he must look for the owner for as long as he deems it probable that he will be found. If he loses hope in finding him, he must give the property to the poor as alms, and the obligatory precaution is that he must do this with permission of a fully qualified jurist. Furthermore, with the permission of a fully qualified jurist, he can give the value of the property to the poor as alms. If the owner is found afterwards but he does not consent to the person giving it to the poor as alms, then based on obligatory precaution the person must replace the property for the owner.