Zakatul-Fitr: The Charity Given To The Poor At The End of Ramadan Fast
In an authentic Hadith Prophet Muhammad (SAW) made Zakatul-Fitr compulsory on every slave, freeman, male, female, young/minor and old among the Muslims one Saa` of dried dates or one Saa` of barley, as long as he or she has the means to do so.
Zakatul-Fitr is charity given to the poor at the end of the fasting in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The Arabic word Fitr means the same as iftar, breaking a fast, and it comes from the same root word as Futoor which means breakfast. Zakat al-Fitr is a smaller levy than Zakat al-Mal.
However, Sadaqat al-Fitr is a duty which is wajib (required) of every Muslim, whether male or female, minor or adult.
Every Muslim is required to pay Zakat-ul-Fitr at the conclusion of the month of Ramadan as a token of thankfulness to God for having enabled him to observe fasts. Its purpose to purify those who fast from any indecent act or speech and its also a means to reach and help the poor and needy in the society. This view is based upon the hadith that reads, “The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, enjoined Zakat-ul-Fitr on those who fast to shield them from any indecent act or speech, and for the purpose of providing food for the needy. It is accepted as Zakah for the one who pays it before the `Eid prayer, and it is sadaqah for the one who pays it after the prayer.”
In essence, it provides for the needs of the poor and the indigent and relieves them from having to ask others for charity on the day of `Eid. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said in authentic hadith, “Fulfil their need on this day (i.e., the day of `Eid)”
Zakatul-Fitr preferably be paid before the Eid prayer. It is to be paid in the form of what is considered as staple (common) foods of the community on leaves.
No Muslim can escape not saying a few misplaced words during the period of Ramadan. It is from the Mercy of Allah SWT that He prescribed on us Zakatul-Fitr to get clean off the bad effect of vain talks and useless speeches in Ramadan, as well as to feed the needy amongst us on the day of `eid and make him happy on that day as well.
Zakatul-Fitr is mandatory on every Muslim on his behalf and on the behalf of all people he is in charge of.
What Time Is Zakatul-Fitr Due
During the time of the Prophet Companions, payment was made one or two days before the `Eid. After the spread of Islam the scholars permitted its payment from the beginning and middle of Ramadan so as to ensure that the Zakatul-Fitr reached its beneficiaries on the day of `Eid, thereby avoiding the possibility that the process of distribution would delay reception of the payment after the day of `Eid.
The most important thing is payment before Eid prayers is more acceptable in Islam if we go by the this hadith reported by Nafi` that the Prophet’s companion Ibn ‘Umar used to give it to those who would accept it and the people used to give it a day or two before the `Eid. [Bukhari Vol. 2, p.339, no. 579]
Type of food To be given
Islamic jurists of the four different school thoughts hold different views as to what type of food must be given as Zakatul-Fitr. The Hanbali view is that the kinds of food which can be given are five: dates, raisins, wheat, barley, and dry cottage cheese. Imam Ahmad is reported to have said that any kind of staple grain or dates are also permissible, even if the above five types are available. The Malikis and Shafi`is however are of the view that it is permissible to give any kind of food as long as it is the main staple in that particular region, locality and society or the main food of the person. As for the Hanafis, they permit paying the value of Zakat-ul-Fitr in money.
Quantity To As Give Zakatul-Fitr
The quantity prescribed by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is one saa’ of food. One saa’ is equivalent to four madd. A madd is the amount that can be scooped up when one puts their hands together i.e (a handful of an average man).
As culled from Islam Online, there is consensus on this amount among the scholars with regard to all types of food except wheat and raisins. As for the two, Shafi`is, Malikis and Hanbalis three out of the four school of Islamic thought agrees that the prescribed amount is one Saa’, however Hanafis believe it is sufficient to pay half Sa` from wheat cause of its cost and they differed with regard to raisins. After discussing the arguments of these two opinions al-Qaradawi reached the following conclusion: wheat was not a common food amongst them during the time of the Prophet so he did not prescribe one Saa` of it as he did with the other types of food. As for those of the Companions of the Prophet who prescribed half Sa` of wheat instead of one Saa` of barely or dates like Mu`awiyah and other Companions, he views that they did so by analogy, since the value of wheat was more than those of other types of food which were equal. But according to their opinion, he says, the value should be considered and taken as the criterion and this will cause instability and confusion for it changes from one place to another and from time to time.
The amount of Zakat is the same for everyone regardless of their different income brackets, age, location, or health. The minimum amount is one Sa’ (two handfuls) of food, grain or dried fruit for each member of the family. This calculation is based on Ibn ‘Umar’s report that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam made Zakat ul-Fitr compulsory and payable by a Sa’ of dried dates or a Sa’ of barley.
Zakat al-Fitr has to be given in the form of food. That is the practice of the Messenger of Allah salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam and the practice of the Sahabah (His Companions). It also has to be given to the poor before Eid Prayer.