What do I do with items left by customers at my shop? 

Q. I used to own a watch repair shop. I closed it down now but I have a few watches of my old clients. I tried my level best to find my old clients who left their watches by me for repairs but I cannot find them. A few years have passed now and I cannot keep it anymore. Can I sell it and use the money for myself?

A. If you cannot locate your clients who have left their watches etc. by you for repairs, then you may dispose of it by giving it in charity to poor and deserving people. It will not be permissible for you to sell or benefit from it unless you are poor and deserving of it as well.

In any case, if the owners of the respective watches are located, then you will be responsible to return the value of the watches to them if you disposed of it amongst poor and deserving people or if you were, poor, deserving, and you sold or benefited from it. (Hidaayah 2/418)

Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Ismaeel Bassa