UNDERSTANDING ISLAM: Zakatul Fitr

Understanding Islam by Muhajid NavarraAs the month of Ramadhan comes to an end, it is important to note that Ramadhan begins with piety and ends with piety. One of the final actions of the Muslims in the month of Ramadhan is the payment of Zakatul Fitr or Alms for the Breaking of the Fast.

Zakatul Fitr is different from the Zakatul Mal or the Zakah for the material possession of the person which has been owned by him for more than a year and is more than the Nisab or the lowest amount of wealth for it to be considered as wealth deserving of being paid Zakah for. Zakah is 2.5% of your wealth that could be paid any time of the year while Zakatul Fitr is 2.5 kilograms of rice to be given before the Eid Prayer after Ramadhan.

 

ZAKATUL FITR IS PURIFICATION

Zakah literally means purification and Zakatul Fitr is meant as purification for any misdeeds, ill speech or lapses done by the Muslim during his month of fasting in Ramadhan. Ibn ‘Abbaas said,

“The Messenger of Allah enjoined Zakatul Fitr as a purification for the fasting person from idle and obscene speech and to feed the poor. “Narrated by Abu Dawud.

 

WHEN TO PAY ZAKATUL FITR

Ibn ‘Abbaas said,

“Whoever gives it before the Eid prayer, it is Zakatul Fitr, and whoever gives it after the prayer, it is ordinary charity.” Narrated by Abu Dawud.

Zakatul Fitr should be given before the Eid Prayer, the congregational prayer that is done at the first day after the last day of Ramadhan. Scholars have further elaborated that Zakatul Fitr should be paid at most three days before the day of Eid until before the Eid Prayer.

Since it is called Zakah, it is an obligation upon every Muslims.  Ibn ‘Umar narrated,

 

WHO SHOULD PAY ZAKATUL FITR

“Allah’s Messenger ordered Sadaqatul-Fitr on behalf of the young and the old, and the free and the slave – whom you provide for.” Narrated by Imam Ad Daraqutni and Al Bayhaqi.

It means that the Muslim shall pay for himself and for all his dependents such as his wife, children or any Muslim under his care. Scholars have also mentioned that even the baby inside the womb of a pregnant woman shall be paid for also by the parent or guardian.

 

HOW MUCH ZAKATUL FITR SHOULD BE PAID

Zakatul Fitr is paid not by cash but by a certain amount of food preferably grains that is common in the country where it is to be distributed such as dates, rice,corn or others. It is also worth noting that such food that is prescribed are food that could be stored for long periods of time and will not easily spoil.

During the time of Prophet Muhammad, the measure of volume is in place which is known as the Saa’. Sheikh Ibn Baz – rahimahullah, reckoned the weight of Zakatul Fitr as approximately three kilograms. Sheikh Al Othaimin – rahimahullah, estimated it as 2.1 kilograms. This discrepancy occurred because a saa’ is a measure of volume, not weight.

That is why most scholars have come to the conclusion that Muslims should pay 2.5 kilograms of whatever food the Muslims chooses to pay Zakatul Fitr with.

If a parent, for example, should pay for his family composed of his pregnant wife and three children, he shall pay 15 kilograms of rice for all of them since there is six of them in the family who are dependent to him including the baby in the womb.

Since Zakatul Fitr should be paid in food items, it is not allowed for anyone to pay Zakatul Fitr in cash except for the following situation when the Muslim is paying his Zakatul Fitr to a collector who will collect money from people and will buy rice on and distribute it to the poor on their behalf.

This is allowed only for Zakatul Fitr collectors, if money is to be given to a recipient on condition that he shall buy rice later, it is still not allowed.

 

WHO DESERVES ZAKATUL FITR

Zakatul Fitr could only be paid to the needy Muslims who are not under one’s care or provision and are not near relatives. Therefore, Zakatul Fitr cannot be given to Non-Muslims since the deserving receiver are Muslims only. Also it could not be given to your own children or parent since they are your dependents and are near relatives.

It is also not allowed for Zakatul Fitr to be paid somewhere else other than the residence of the Muslim who is paying. Your needy Muslim neighbour is more deserving of your Zakatul Fitr more than anyone else. It is not allowed for Zakatul Fitr collected in the Davao City for example to be sent to Manila except if there is real need for it such as giving Zakatul Fitr to refugees instead of your poor neighbor.

RELEGATION OF THE COLLECTION OF ZAKATUL FITR

Relegation of the collection of Zakatul Fitr is allowed. A person or an organization may represent the giver of the Zakatul Fitr and the receiver of the Zakatul Fitr. This delegation solves the problem of collection and distribution of Zakatul Fitr since it is to be done in a very limited amount of time. Relegation may happen in the following situation:

  1. The Zakatul Fitr payor may give cash to the Zakatul Fitr collector to buy for him rice. If this same organization represents the receiver also, even if your Zakatul Fitr have not been distributed until before the Eid prayer, then your Zakatul Fitr is accepted as Zakatul Fitr as it is considered to have been accepted by the receiver himself since the collector is his representative.
  2. The Zakatul Fitr payor may give cash to the collector who will, in turn, buy rice for him to be distributed in other areas who are in need.

Zakatul Fitr, is paid properly further consolidates brotherhood and sympathy between Muslims and makes sure that the poor shall have food in the day of festivities of Eidul Fitr after Ramadhan.