In the Name of Allaah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
…the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who said: “He upon whom his brother has a right, be it of the nature of money or honor, let him compensate for it before he is made to compensate for it on a day when there will be neither dinar nor dirham to deal with. Instead, if he has a good deed in his account it will be taken away from him and given to the person he had wronged. And if he has no good deeds in his account, sins of the other person will be taken from him and added to his account” (al-Bukhari). Accordingly, the repentant can escape the questioning only by either giving back to the people wronged their due or seeking their forgiveness. If they forgive, he need not worry, but if they do not, then he must return their dues.
[REF: IslamQA.info – 100]
Allah has commanded us to keep our trusts, and He has forbidden us to take people’s wealth or property in unlawful ways.
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due.” [4:58]
It was narrated that Abu Humayd al Sa’idi said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “By Allah, no one of you takes anything unlawfully but he will meet Allah carrying it on the Day of Resurrection. I will certainly recognize some of you who meet Allah carrying a camel that is groaning or a cow that is lowing or a sheep that is bleating.” Then he raised his hand until the whiteness of his armpit could be seen and said: “O Allah, have I conveyed (the message)?” [al-Bukhari, Muslim].
Praise be to Allah Who has enabled you to repent. This is a blessing from Allah to you, for which He deserves to be thanked. So praise Allah and ask Him for more of His bounty and help.
You do not have to disclose to the department what you have done; rather it is sufficient for you to return the things themselves or the equivalent in whatever way you can. If you cannot return them then you can give an equivalent amount in charity.
You should try to find the office from which you took them; if you cannot do that, then it is sufficient – in sha Allah – for you to return them to the department itself.
The Standing Committee was asked about a man who used to work in the armed forces and took a coat without permission. They replied:
You have to return something equivalent to the coat that you took or its value to the section from which you took it. If you cannot, then give the equivalent amount in charity to a poor person.
Fatawa al-Lajnah al-Daimah.
[REF: IslamQA.info – 47791]
He has to return what he took from each person to its rightful owner, if he can find him or his heirs. If he tried hard and could not do that, then he should give the money in charity with the intention that it is being given on behalf of its owner.
[REF: IslamQA.info – 43100]
What you have to do is to repent to Allaah and return all the money that you took. Your repentance is not complete otherwise. If you do not know the exact amount, then it is sufficient to do what you think is most likely, and be on the safe side when estimating how much you owe. If you are not sure whether the amount is eighty or one hundred, for example, then pay one hundred, so that you will meet your Lord free from the burden of this treachery and wrongdoing. Al-Bukhaari (2449) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever has wronged his brother with regard to his honour or anything else, let him settle the matter now, before there is no dinar and no dirham, and if he has any righteous deeds some will be taken from him according to the wrong he did, and if he has no hasanaat (good deeds), some of the other person’s sayi’aat (bad deeds) will be taken and given to him.”
Whatever you are unable to repay now is a debt that you owe, and you will not have discharged your duty until you pay it. What you have to do in that case is to make sure that it is mentioned in your will, lest death come upon you suddenly before you can pay it off. Al-Bukhaari (2738) and Muslim (1627) narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that he heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “No Muslim who has anything concerning which a will should be made should spend three nights without making a written will.” ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar said: I never spent one night since I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say that but I had my will with me.
[REF: IslamQA.info – 40019]
If Allah guides a Muslim to repent from taking people’s wealth unlawfully, then one of the conditions of this repentance is that he should return to people what is rightfully theirs, even if they are non-Muslims. If there is the fear of humiliation or criminal charges if he returns money to the social services department, then it is permissible for him to look for a suitable way of preserving his dignity whilst also returning money to its rightful owner without embarrassing himself, such as sending the money in the mail or delegating someone to take it to them without mentioning his name or what he did to them. It is not essential for the one who wants to return things to their rightful owners to disclose himself or his identity, because the purpose is to return things to their rightful owners…
If he does not have the whole amount, he may return what he can afford now, and the rest will remain a debt that he owes, which he must return when he is able to.
[REF: IslamQA.info – 50716]