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Is It Haram to Take Back a Gift?

16 August, 2023
Q Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. What is the ruling and reference for taking back gifts you gave? Jazakum Allah khayran.


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger. 

In this fatwa:

The majority of scholars are of the view that it is not permissible to take back a gift one has given to somebody. The only exception is regarding what a father gives to his son/daughter as a gift; he can get back whatever he gives to them.

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Answering the question in point, Dr. Taha Jaber Al-`Alwani, the late president of the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences and president of the Fiqh Council of North America, states:

“Islamically it is unacceptable to give gifts to somebody and then later try to get it back. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advised us to give gifts to each other. This was meant to build a good relationship amongst the people. That is why he (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Giving gifts will create strong love between you so try to do it in order to love each other and to develop strong relationship among you.” (Al-Bukhari)

There is a wisdom which says, “The person who gets his gift back is like the one who throws something and tries to get that thing back.”

The father is the exception. He has the right to get back the gifts which he gives to his children. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to the person who went to him complaining about his son. The man said that his son wans’t taking care of his father. The Prophet said, “You and your wealth belong to your father.”” (Ibn Majah)

Elaborating on this, Sheikh Ibrahim Julhum, a prominent Azharite scholar, adds:

The majority of scholars are of the opinion that it is forbidden to take back a gift that one gives to somebody even if such person is one’s brohter/sister or spouse. The only exception is in respect to what a father gives as a gift to his child. The father can get back whatever he gives his son/daughter as a gift.

This is based on the hadith reported on the authority of Ibn `Abbas and Ibn `Umar that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “It is not lawful for a man to give gift and afterwards to take it back except a father regarding what he gives his child. The parable of one who gives a gift and then takes it back is like the parable of a dog which eats till when it is satisfied, it vomits and then takes his vomiting back.” (Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, and At-Tirmidhi)

Almighty Allah knows best.