Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalam aleykum

I am fairly certain that a friend of mine gave me a CD to keep, but since I was shy in accepting it I said to him something like “if you ever need it just ask” or “if you ever need it back just ask”. Now, does that mean this still belongs to him and I am not allowed to dispose of it since its been many years?

Answer: Walaikum assalam,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

In the case described, the gifting would be considered complete—and the CD is thus your property. What you said regarding them taking it back any time is considered like a light promise, which would be recommended.

The religious basis for this is that:
(1) Gifting (hiba) is a means of transfer of ownership, and it is complete when possession is transferred;
(2) The general ruling of promises is that they are (a) not permitted to make without full commitment of fulfillment; and (b) recommended to fulfill—unless the consequential action of another was based on the promise made.

[ref: Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Majalla]

Please see also: What is the Definition of a Promise?

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.

wassalam,

Faraz Rabbani

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