Undesirability of giving a Gift and then ask back for it

The act of giving gifts to one another is highly appreciated and encouraged by Islam. It is good and effective means to strengthen bonds and relationships.

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Giving and accepting gifts were also recommended by Prophet Muhammad (saw).

“The Messenger of Allah used to accept gifts and reward people for giving them.” [Bukhari]

The Prophet (saw) enjoined responding in kind to favors, as he said in a narration: 

“Whoever does you a favour, respond in kind, and if you cannot find the means of doing so, then keep praying for him until you think that you have responded in kind.” [Abu Daawood]

But if some resentment arises between two fellows then it is not permissible to take back the gifts that were exchanged between them

Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “He who gives something (to someone) as a gift and then gets it back (from him or her) is like a dog which eats its own vomit.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

According to the hadith the abomination of taking back a gift is evident. One who does it has been considered akin to a dog, and what is taken back to vomit, which is extremely nauseating. Religious scholars are, however, of the opinion that this injunction is for the strangers (non-relatives). If a person gives something as a gift to his children or grandchildren, this order will not apply to him. It is permissible for him to take it back.

Similar to gifts it’s not permissible to purchase back something that is given away in charity. The following hadith highlights

‘Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) said: I donated a horse in the way of Allah. Its new possessor did not treat it properly. I made my mind to buy it because I thought that he would sell it at a cheap price (now that it became weak and emaciated). I asked the Prophet (PBUH) about it, whereupon he said, “Do not buy it and do not get back your charity, for one who gets back the charity is like a dog that eats its own vomit.”

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