Usurpation is the misappropriation of somebody else’s property without any right to do so according to the Sharia, and this is amongst the major sins. However, the laws of usurpation also apply to the situations where one appropriates somebody’s property by mistake or with the erroneous thought that one is entitled to take it.
Ruling 725: Usurpation takes place by one taking physical possession of the item, rather than using it or barring the owner from it, although both of these acts are also not permissible.
Ruling 726: The usurper will be liable for the usurped item, in returning it if it is still there, or otherwise in returning its equivalent if it is not. This must be done immediately, unless the owner agrees to wait.
Ruling 727: Just as it is obligatory to return the actual item, it is also obligatory to return any addition arising from it, whether it is attached to it – such as extra trees on usurped land – or detached from it – such as eggs from a usurped chicken or milk from a usurped goat.
Ruling 728: If the usurped item becomes faulty or defective, he will also have to pay the owner the difference in the price of the sound item and the faulty item.
Ruling 729: The usurper, along with being liable for the actual usurped property, will also be liable for all benefits he has obtained from it, such as living in a usurped house, or using a usurped car for travelling, or wearing usurped clothes.
Ruling 730: If one usurped land and farmed on it or built on it, he will be liable for the market rent of the land for the mentioned period, although he is still entitled to his crop plantations and buildings. If the usurper usurped the land out of aggression, rather than by mistake or error, then the owner can order him to remove his crops and building, even if he will suffer in doing so.
Ruling 731: It is not permissible to sell or buy anything usurped; and if the item has passed through many hands, the rightful owner can claim restitution from them all.
Ruling 732: It is permissible for the owner to seize his property from the usurper. If he is unable to do so, he can raise the matter to the hakim shar’i. If the usurper refuses to be taken to the hakim shar’i, the case may be raised to the courts of the land.