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I bought a second-hand phone that I now think might have been stolen. Will I be still held responsible if, without my knowledge, it was actually stolen?

Before buying it, I tried to verify that it wasn't stolen and I had reasons to believe that it wasn't. But after buying it, I got to know that I might be wrong, I am not sure if it's actually stolen or not; there is no way to check, and no way to find out who it was stolen from, so there's no way to return it to the original owner.

  • Can't you take it to the police and ask? – Rebecca J. Stones Jun 16 '17 at 20:31
  • @RebeccaJ.Stones It will take too much time. They may not be able to assist. They have to deal with robberies, murders, drugs. Don't have time for a nice person returning a possibly stolen phone :| – Honey Jun 16 '17 at 20:51
  • @Honey Incorrect. and that's bad advice. It depends on the country and one may not know until they try – Aboudi Jun 17 '17 at 1:27
  • Call a local police station and give them the serial number they should be able to check if it has been reported stolen or not – Aboudi Jun 17 '17 at 1:27
  • no i cant. it was bought from a different country by a cousin of mine on behalf of me. and he isn't going back to that country either. – mushfiq Jun 17 '17 at 6:52
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you are not responsible for that. the quran states:

And no soul earns evil but only against itself; nor does any bearer of burden bear the burden of another. Quran 6:164

as long as you are not the one who stole it and not 100% sure, if its stolen and whom it has been stolen from, you will not be held accountable.

But if you come to know its stolen and has sufficient evidence to prove that it is, then there comes your duty as a law abiding citizen to report it to the law and also report the person from whom you have purchased the goods.

  • i have told the person i bought it from that i have doubt about it being stolen and he said he did not know anything about it being stolen. and i am in different country than from where it was bought – mushfiq Jun 17 '17 at 6:54
  • Then you have nothing to worry... Let God decide what to make of it. – Qaisar Khan Jun 17 '17 at 19:43
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Islam forbids (knowingly) buying and possessing stolen property (Islam Q&A), while owning non-stolen property is allowed. Between these two extremes are:

  1. Assumptions, where the Qur'an says:

    O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. ...
    Qur'an 49:12

  2. Suspicions, where we have the hadith:

    Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales ...
    Sahih al-Bukhari 6064

  3. Doubts, where we have the hadith:

    ... Leave what makes you in doubt for what does not make you in doubt. ...
    Jami` at-Tirmidhi [grade: sahih]

From here, you'll need to determine you're making assumptions and are being suspicious, or if there is reasonable (and actionable) doubt. Basically, it boils down to Why do you think it's stolen? This may require interaction with a scholar.

In another context (halal vs. haram food), an Islam Q&A fatwa writes:

In ‘Awn al-Ma‘bood (9/2195-2196) it says: “Beware of suspicion” means: beware of following suspicion or beware of negative thinking, for suspicion is an accusation that comes to mind without any evidence.

Therefore, it's reasonable to believe that evidence is key in deciding whether or not these doubts are reasonable.

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