1. It is a major sin to take back something that you have given. If a person takes back something that he has given and the person gives it back willingly, then the person who had originally given the item will once again become its owner. However, there are certain things which the person has no right to take back, e.g. you gave a goat to a person. This person fed that goat so well that it became fat and healthy. In such a case you do not have the right to take it back.
Alternatively, you gave a plot of land to a person. He constructed a house on that plot or turned it into an orchard. In such a case you do not have the right to take it back. Alternatively, you gave a length of material to a person. He sewed a garment out of it, dyed it or had it washed. You do not have the right to take it back.
2. You gave a goat to a person. After some time it gave birth to kids. You can take the goat back but you do not have the right to take the kids.
3. If the person who gives an item or the person who receives it dies after the item was given, the right to take it back no longer remains.
4. A person gave you something. You also gave her something in return for this and said to her: “Sister, take this in return for the item that you gave me.” After giving this item in exchange, you do not have the right to take it back.
However, if you did not tell her that you are giving this in exchange for what she gave you, you have the right to take back your item and she also has the right to take back the item that she gave you.
5. The husband gave something to his wife or vice versa. They do not have the right to take back whatever they give. Similarly, if a person gives something to a relative with whom marriage is harâm forever and this is a blood relation, such as brother and sister or nephew and niece, they do not have the right to take back whatever they give. If the relative is such that marriage is not harâm with him or her, such as one’s cousin, then one has the right to take back whatever one gives. Similarly, if marriage is harâm but the relationship is not a blood relationship, instead it is a relationship based on breast-feeding or some other relationship such as foster brothers or sisters or son-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law, etc., then in all these cases one has the right to take back whatever one gives.
6. All the cases wherein we have mentioned that one has the right to take back what one gives, means that he will only have the right to take it back if the person is also willing to give it back, as mentioned in the beginning. However, there is also a sin in doing this. If the person is not willing to give it back and does not give it back, one does not have the right to take the item forcefully without first obtaining a ruling from a judge in his favour. If he takes it forcefully without obtaining a ruling from a judge, he will not become its owner.
7. Most of the rules that have been mentioned with regard to the giving of gifts also apply to giving in the path of Allah, e.g. an item will not go into the ownership of a poor person without the latter taking possession of it. The item which has the prerequisite that it has to be divided before it can be given, this prerequisite will also apply here. The item which has to be emptied before it can be given will also have to be emptied in this case.
However, there are two differences. One is that when you give something you have the right to take it back if the person is willing to do so. However, when you give something in the path of Allah you do not have the right to take it back. The second difference is that if you give a certain amount of money to two poor persons and tell them to share it between themselves, it will be permissible to do so. However, when giving a gift to someone, you cannot ask them to divide the money.
8. You were going to give R10 to a poor person but you mistakenly gave him a R20 note. You do not have the right to take it back.