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A hen whose owner is unknown wandered into his backyard


Assalamualaikum. pls there is this domestic animal(hen) that strayed into my backyard and since then she has refuse to go. She has made my backyard her home. she even layed eggs and hatched the eggs into little chicks. I contacted my neighbors to ask if there is anybody looking for a lost domestic animal so as to return it but no response. my question is that can i keep the animal and even slaughter to eat if i want since no body has come to claim it? Thank you


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, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

The hen which you referred to in the question is considered a Luqatah (a lost item found by someone else). The author of Kash-shaaf Al-Qinaa‘ said: “If the wind brings into one’s house the garment of someone else, he is obliged to keep it as it is a trust in his hand until he gives it back to its owner. In case the owner of the house does not know the owner of the garment, then this is a Luqatah and he should announce that he has it for a whole lunar year. If the owner of the house knows the owner of the garment, then he is obliged to immediately inform him of the garment, and if he does not do so, i.e., if he does not inform the owner of the garment despite the fact that he knows him, then he guarantees it if he loses it (or spoils it) after a period of time during which he could have announced it, because he (its owner) did not ask him to preserve it. If someone else’s bird falls into one’s house, he is not obliged to keep it or inform its owner, because the bird can still fly (i.e. it is not caught) but if the bird does not fly away, like if its wings were cut off, then it is like the garment; if he does not know its owner, it is considered as a Luqatah.” [End of quote]

The person who finds the Luqatah (the hen in this case) has to choose between three options. The Fiqh Encyclopedia reads: “He may choose between three options:

1- Keeping it for its owner. He should announce it and provide for its needs during the duration of the announcement, and he would own it if he does not find its owner after the expiry of the period of announcing.

2- Selling it and saving its price for its owner. He should then announce the Luqatah which he had sold and in case he does not find its owner, he possesses the exchange money.

3- Eating it and paying its price to its owner when he appears, according to the Hadeeth: “It is either for you or for your brother or for the fox.

However, having a choice between these (three) options applies to lost properties found in the desert. If the lost property is taken from a town (i.e. from a populated area and not from the desert), then the choice applies only to the two first options, i.e. keeping it or selling it, and he should not eat it according to the strongest opinion. The other opinion is to eat it, which is the view of the Shaafi‘i School. [End of quote]

Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in Al-Mughni: There is no difference of opinion in regard to the permissibility of eating it whether it is found in the desert or in town, but Imaam Maalik, Abu ‘Ubayd, the Shaafi‘i scholars and Ibn Al-Munthir said: He has no right to eat it in town as he may sell it, contrary to the desert. However, in our view, what is permissible to eat in the desert is permissible to eat in town, like all other eatables, and because the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “It is for you...” Hence, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did not make any distinction, and because eating it spares him from spending on it, and this costs more in town than in the desert.” [End of quote]

The same applies to the eggs, if they have a value and are in demand (they are popular food) as is the case, then what we have already mentioned above applies to them, but if it is feared that the eggs get spoilt in case one keeps them, then the one who finds them has the choice either to eat them and guarantee their price or give their price in charity while intending the reward for their owner. Then if he finds the owner, he should inform him that he donated the price in charity while intending the reward for him. If the latter accepts it, it is acceptable, otherwise, he gives him the price of the eggs and the reward for the donation will be for the one who had found the eggs. Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr said in Fiqh Ahl Al-Madeenah: “If a person finds food as a Luqatah that cannot last for long and no one claims to own it, then he does not have to announce it and wait for its owner, and he does not have to keep it until it gets spoilt, but he has the choice either to donate it in charity or to eat it if he is poor and he needs it. Then, if he finds its owner, he is liable for it if he had eaten it, and if he had given it in charity, then its owner has the choice either to accept the reward, or seek liability (i.e. take its price), like with all other Luqatah items.” [End of quote]

Allaah Knows best.

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