Can I use an item that I have found outside?

Q: We have this stainless steel fork and it is an odd one from the other 2 types we have. Me and my mum are not sure if it belongs to our neighbour or not. Should we find out or can we just forget about it and use it? Would it be sufficient to just put the money to charity instead? 


الجواب حامدا ومصليا ومسلما ومنه الصدق والصواب


A: If you/your mother cannot remember whether she purchased the fork or not, then you can continue using the fork as possession is an indication of ownership. If she can remember that it is not something that she has purchased or acquired in any other legitimate way and that it belongs to someone else, then you should ask your neighbours in the first instance. If you are not able to determine its owner, then you should donate it or its value to charity on behalf of the owner. If you/your mother are eligible to receive zakat then you/your mother may also use it personally.


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