Zakat-ul-Fitr

by Abű Bakr Jâbir al-Jaza'iry

It Ruling

Zakat-ul-Fitr is a Sunnah that is obligatory upon every individual Muslim. This is due to Ibn ‘Umar’s statement, may Allah be pleased with him:

  “The Messenger of Allah made Zakat-ul-Fitr obligatory during Ramadhan as one Sa’ of dried dates or one Sa’ of barley upon the slave and the free man, the male and the female, and the young and the old of the Muslims.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Its Wisdom

From the wisdom of Zakat-ul-Fitr is that it purifies the fasting soul from the effects of useless, non-beneficial speech (or acts) and obscene speech (or behavior). Likewise, it keeps the poor and needy people from having to beg on the day of ‘Eid. Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

  “The Messenger of Allah made Zakat-ul-Fitr obligatory as a purification for the fasting person from useless, non-beneficial speech (or acts) and obscene speech (or behavior), and as a means of feeding the poor.” (Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah, and it was graded Sahih by Al-Hakim). [1]

The Prophet saws also said:

  Keep them (the poor) from having to beg on this day. (Al-Bayhaqi - and its chain of narration is weak)

The Amount and Type of Food

The amount of Zakat-ul-Fitr is a Sa' and a Sa’ is four Amdad (cupped handfuls). It is given from the usual staple foods of the people of the land, whether it is wheat, or barley, or dried dates, or rice, or raisins or cheese. This is due to the statement of Abu Sa’id (may Allah be pleased with him):

  “When the Messenger of Allah was among us, we used to give Zakat-ul-Fitr on behalf of every person, young and old, free or owned (i.e. a slave), as a Sa’ of Ta’am, [2]or a Sa’ of cheese (dried milk) or a Sa’ of barley or a Sa’ of dried dates, or a Sa’ of raisins.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

It is Only given from items of Food

It is obligatory that Zakat-ul-Fitr be given from the types of food. Money should not be given in place of it, except if there is a pressing need to do so. This is because it is not confirmed that the Prophet gave money for it in place of food. It has not even been reported from the Companions that they gave money (for Zakat-ul-Fitr).

Its Time

Zakat-ul-Fitr becomes obligatory with the coming of the night of the ‘Eid (i.e. the night before the 1st of Shawwal). It is to be paid a day or two before the day of the 'Eid, as Ibn ‘Umar used to do, and the time of giving generosity, which is from the time Fajr comes in on the day of the ‘Eid until just before the prayer (Salat-ul-’Eid). This is due to the Prophet’s saws command that Zakat-ul-Fitr be given before the people come out to the prayer. Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

  “The Messenger of Allah made Zakat-ul-Fitr obligatory as a purification for the fasting person from useless, non-beneficial speech (or acts) and obscene speech (or behavior), and as a means of feeding the poor. So whoever gives it before the prayer (Salat-ul-’Eid), then it is an accepted Zakah, and whoever gives it after the prayer (Salat-ul-’Eid), then it is a form of charity (Sadaqah).” (It has been mentioned previously.)

The time of making it up (i.e. paying it late) is after the ‘Eid prayer and anytime thereafter. Zakat-ul-Fitr may be given during this time (following the prayer) and it is acceptable, however it is disliked (to give it late).

Its Recipients

The recipients of Zakat-ul-Fitr are the same as the recipients of the general Zakat, except that the poor and the needy have more right to it than the other people who have a share in it. This is based upon the Prophet’s statement:

  Keep them from having to beg on this day. (Al-Bayhaqi and its chain of narration is weak)

Therefore, it is not given to other than the poor, unless there are no poor people or their poverty is light (i.e. not severe) or the need of others besides them, who have a share in it, has become severe.

Important Notes:

1. It is permissible for a wealthy woman to pay her Zakah to her husband, who is poor, however the opposite is not permissible. This is because the maintenance of the woman is obligatory upon the man and the maintenance of the man is not obligatory upon the woman.

2. Zakat-ul-Fitr is not required from one who does not possess a day’s worth of food, as Allah does not burden a soul except with what it can bear.

3. Whoever possesses more than a day’s worth of food and he gives it (as his Zakat-ul-Fitr), this will suffice him. This is due to Allah’s statement:

  So fear Allah as much as you are able. (64:16)  

4. It is permissible to give the charity of an individual to a number of people, distributing it among them, and it is permissible to give the charity of a number of individuals to one individual, as the giving of charity is mentioned in the Shari’ah in unrestricted terms.

5. The Zakat-ul-Fitr is obligatory upon the Muslim in the land in which he resides.

6. It is not permissible to transfer Zakat-ul-Fitr from one land to another, except if there is a pressing need. Its Situation is the same as Zakah.


Footnotes

[1] The remainder of it states: “So whoever gives it before the prayer (Salat-ul-’Eid), then it is an accepted Zakah, and whoever gives it after the prayer ( Salat-ul-’Eid) , then it is charity (Sadaqah) from the charities.”
[2] The meaning of Ta’am is millet or corn.

Taken from the Book Minhaj al-Muslim Volume 2, published by Dar-us-Salam publications

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