1. Amaanah is that item which is in a person’s trust and his responsibility is to protect the item. However if the item is destroyed because of natural causes without any doing/negligence from his side, then he will not be liable to compensate for loss of the item.
This item may have been acquired by someone entrusting him with the protection of the item, him finding the item, him having stolen the item and now wishing to return it to the rightful owner, or acquiring it in any other manner. However the most common usage of the term Amaanah today is in the first meaning (where an item is entrusted to a person for safe keeping) and this is a type of Amaanah also specifically known as Wadee’ah.
The answers that will be provided hereafter, will be in accordance to the laws applicable to this specific type of Amaanah, as this is the general understanding of the word Amaanah amongst the people.
2. The person entrusted with the protection/safekeeping of the item is not permitted to take any kind of benefit from it, as the purpose of the Amaanah is that he is entrusted to take care of the item, and by him using the item there is a possibility of harm coming to the item. There is however one situation in which it is permissible to use the item, but then too, only in the manner specified by the actual owner. That is when one borrows an item from someone specifically to use the item, in which case the specific term for this kind of Amaanah is known as ‘Aariyat.
3. As mentioned earlier, whether the item is cash or kind (and the person taking the item has not borrowed it for usage), the person will not be permitted to use it under any circumstances, as the item still belongs to the other person and the person only gave it to him for safe keeping.
4. As far as cash Amaanat is concerned, the same laws mentioned above will apply, however there are a few more laws that apply to cash. When a person borrows an item other than cash to use (which technically is known as ‘Aariyat), this borrowed item will also be a type and offshoot of Amaanah. The law applicable to it is that if, while using the item (as long as he uses it as it is supposed to be used or as decided upon in the contract), the item is somehow destroyed through means that are beyond his powers he will not be liable for loss of the item.
Cash on the other hand, will not fall under this law. Cash can only be taken/borrowed as a loan; which means that regardless of the circumstances under which he loses the money he will have to pay back the entire amount. Each person’s situation will be different.
5. A blanket ruling cannot be passed about all Amaanat being necessary to lock up in a safe for safekeeping. If we take the current situation of people into consideration, we will see that most people do not even possess a safe to begin with. A person may protect the Amaanah as he would protect his own items of the same value. It is not necessary for him to put it in a safe. However if he is negligent about his own wealth then he has to be particularly careful and take care of the Amaanah so that it is not lost due to his negligence.
6. Yes, the exact Amaanah will have to be returned, the pot for example or the exact notes. (Please refer to the rules of cash above). The pot obviously if borrowed for usage can be used and will remain within the borders of Amaanah as long as it is used as it is supposed to be, as the laws of borrowing will apply to this specific type of Amaanah which in Shari’ah is known as ‘Aariyat.
7. The money that we deposit in the banks will all be regarded as Qardh and not as Amaanah. The reason being, the money that we deposit is not kept aside for us but is rather used up and mixed into their system. When we go to claim or withdraw our money later, we are given from the funds that they hold at that time.