Are the Mosque Trustees Responsible if Money was stolen from the Mosque?

Are the Mosque Trustees Responsible if Money was stolen from the Mosque?

Question:

A large sum of money collected for the Mosque was stolen from the Mosque. The door of the Mosque was open, although the money was kept in a safe which was locked. Despite this, the money was stolen. Is anyone such as the trustees of the Mosque responsible for this money? Will they have to compensate for it?

Answer:

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

Money donated and collected for the Mosque is considered to be in the trust (amana) of those responsible to safeguard it, namely the trustees and other members of the committee who have taken the responsibility of managing and overseeing the day-to-day affairs of the Mosque.

The ruling with regards to money or items taken as a trust (amana) is that one will not be liable for any damage or theft as long as one is not unduly negligent.

When something is taken as a trust, one has taken on the commitment to safeguard it and not to be negligent. Hence, if one is negligent about a trust, and it is lost or stolen as a result, one has to compensate for it. However, if one was not negligent, then one will not be responsible to compensate for the item stolen or lost. (See: al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab, 2/111)

Based on this, you state that the main door of the Mosque was not locked although the money was kept in a locked safe. Hence, the main door of a Mosque is normally kept open for those wishing to come and worship in the Mosque, Thus, if the money was kept safe in a locker or something similar, then the trustees of the Mosque will not be considered to have been negligent; hence they will not be responsible to compensate for the stolen money. However, if the money was not kept is a safe and secure area, they would be considered to have been negligent and liable for compensation.

Moreover, at times and in some areas, it is common for thieves to steel from the Mosque, because of which the main door of the Mosque is normally kept locked except at prayer times. If this is the case, in that normally the main door is closed but the responsible people forgot to lock it, they will be considered to have been negligent hence responsible. (See: Fatawa Mahmudiyya)

In conclusion, the ruling on whether the trustees of the Mosque are responsible or not really depends on whether they behaved in a negligent manner or otherwise. This can be determined by taking into consideration how people in your town or area safeguard their personal wealth. Even if the trustees of the Mosque were not neglectful, it may well be superior to compensate for the lost money, as the money was donated by Muslims for the house of Allah.

And Allah knows best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

Question #: 6142
Published: 02/08/2005