A Syrian refugee found a huge pile of money — €150,000 (that is, about $166,000 USD) — hidden in an old wardrobe that had been donated to him, and refused to keep the money for himself because of his religion, the Independent is reporting.
Muhannad M., who declined to be identified beyond the first letter of his last name, arrived in Europe with thousands of other refugees in October, 2015, and eventually made his way to the town of Minden, a city of about 83,000 people in northwest Germany.
— Syria Today (@todayinsyria) June 29, 2016
With the help of donations from local charities, Muhannad has been trying to assemble a new life for himself. Most of his furniture and other belongings have been donated. One such donation was an old wooden wardrobe (that is, a cabinet or bureau in which clothes are kept — think The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe).
While cleaning out the old wardrobe, something caught Muhannad’s eye: two pieces of wood had been crudely screwed together to conceal a hidden compartment. The young man opened it up and, to his surprise, found almost unimaginable treasure: about 100,000 euros in savings books, and 50,000 euros in cash.
“They were all new €500 notes. I thought it was fake money.”
In fact, the money was quite real, but Muhannad, being a devout Muslim, refused to keep the money. He contacted immigration authorities, who then contacted the police. And when asked why he didn’t keep the money, Muhannad said that his religion forbids such a thing.
“Allah would never allow me to finance my own interests with someone else’s wealth.”
A police spokesperson praised the young refugee’s actions.
“This young man has acted in an exemplary way and deserves great respect.”
The spokesperson also noted that it’s not uncommon for people to turn in small amounts of money they’ve found, but never such a large amount.
This is not the first time someone has found a huge sum of money and returned it. In fact, several times per year stories will hit the news of people finding money in unexpected places and refusing to keep it.
For example, in 2015, according to ABC News, a homeless man in Canada found $2,400 CDN and immediately took it to a police station. After word of his selfless actions hit the media, supporters set up a GoFundMe account to raise $2,400 to give to him. It was up to Constable Alex Bérubé of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to find him — which he eventually did, at a soup kitchen called Our Place. And when the constable tried to give the unnamed homeless man his money, the policeman was stunned by his reaction.
“His response surprised me yet again, when instead of asking how to collect it, he asked me how to donate it to Our Place and other food service providers for people in need.”
Similarly, according to a 2014 Daily Mail report, three New York men bought a $20 couch from a resale shop. Once they got it home, they found that the couch had been stuffed with $41,000 in cash hidden in envelopes. They, too, returned the money, once they saw that one of the envelopes had a woman’s name on it. It turns out that the woman was an elderly widow, whose husband had given her the money so she could have something to live on after he died.
Minden police are currently searching for the owner of the money that turned up in Muhannad’s donated wardrobe. For his part, the Syrian refugee is entitled to a finder’s fee of three percent of the money – that is, 4,500 euros (about $4,996).
[Image via Minden Police]