Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
When my grandma was at home, I used to transfer credit from her phone to mine without telling her. Also, I used my sisters’ stuff, like her creams without asking her and never told her about it.
How should I absolve myself?
“The Messenger of Allah said, ‘The pen has been lifted from [documenting and acts of] three particular types of people: someone who is sleeping until he wakes up, a child until he reaches puberty, and an insane person until he regains his sanity’ [Ahmad]. Based on this hadith you are not sinful for having taken the property of others, however, the Shari’ah still demands that their property and financial rights be returned.
To return someone’s property, you would need to return (in order of preference): the same item, an item similar to the stolen item, or its monetary equivalent. In your case you could, for example, give your grandmother a gift of 50$, intending to pay her back, without telling her that. Buying her something that she needs instead, would not suffice. You could give your relatives a new pack of erasers (or stationery set) and a new set of creams or lotions to your sister.
Another option is that you tell your relatives and your sister what you did and ask if they want to be paid back. They might overlook it since they are minor losses or they might not. You should be prepared to pay them back.
As for anything which you cannot recall, Shaykh Abdul-Wahhab al-Sha’rani mentioned in one of his works that one should regularly perform an act of worship and then donate its reward to anyone who he may have wronged in any way; this way he will have something to compensate them with on the Day of Judgement.
[What Should I Do About Thefts Committed During Childhood?]
Repentance is the most important thing here. Be sure to feel remorse, repent for the petty theft and the lying, resolve never to do it again, and return to people their rights.
Say, (O Prophet, that Allah says), “O My servants who have exceeded the limits against their souls! Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins. He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Qur`an, 39:53]
May Allah reward you for taking the higher road and changing your ways.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.