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What to do with found camels?


Is it permissible to possess camels which are found in the desert and benefit from them – especially the male camels which cause many troubles for us? It should be known that we do not know their owners because there is no sign on them indicating the owning tribe or clan.


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.

Camels are among the animals that protect themselves from the small wild beasts. It is impermissible for anyone who finds such animals in the desert to take them. Zayd ibn Khalid  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was asked about the found camel and said: “It is none of your concern. It has its water-container (reservoir) and its feet, and it will reach water and drink it and eat the trees till its owner finds it.” [Al-Bukhari] This is the adopted opinion by the majority of scholars of Fiqh including Maaliki, Shaafi‘i and Hanbali scholars. This is the preponderant opinion. Hanafi scholars permitted taking it in order to preserve it. There are four cases to be excluded from the impermissibility of taking it:

First: if the ruler takes it to preserve if for its owner. ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him specified a place called An-Naqee‘ for the horses of the Mujahidoon and the found animals.

Second: if the person fears that dishonest people will take it, then it is permissible to take it in order to keep it for its owner especially in times of theft.

Third: if its owner is known, it is permissible to take it as a trust to be paid to the owner.

Fourth: if the person fears that it might be ruined due to hunger, thirst or attacks of old wild beasts, then, it is permissible to take it.

In brief, it is impermissible for you to take it except in the previous four cases; and taking them would be with the intention of preserving it for its owner, not to make them your own, along with making an announcement about finding it for a year except in the case where the imam takes it or if its owner is known.

Allaah Knows best.

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