Zakat-al-Fitr (zakah of breaking the fast) is a small donation that Muslims must pay as charity at the end of Ramadan. Every adult Muslim who possesses food in excess of their needs must pay Zakat-al-Fitr, which is also known as fitrana. The head of the household can also pay it for their dependents, such as children and dependent relatives.
Origin of Zakat-Al-Fitr :
The origin of obligation can be dated to the month of Sha’ban (the eighth month of the Islamic lunar calendar) in the second year of Hijrah. Ibn-e-Umar (may ALLAH be pleased with him) said,
“ALLAH’s Messenger PBUH enjoined the payment of one Saa’ of dates or one Saa’ of barley as Zakat-al-Fitr on every Muslim slave, freeman, male, female, young or old, and He PBUH ordered that it be paid before performing the Salat-al-Eid.
Purpose of Zakat-Al-Fitr :
The first wisdom for paying Zakat-al-Fitr Prophet PBUH teaches us, “It is a form of purification for the fasting person.” It means when we fasted in Ramadan, there was no one out there who could see that our fasting was 100% perfect according to what ALLAH wanted. We all acknowledge the fact that our Ramadan was filled with shortcomings. There were things we did that we were not supposed to do. So to perfect our Ramadan, we give Zakat-al-Fitr. It’ll polish up our Ramadan and rectify those shortcomings. Our fasting becomes perfect in the sight of ALLAH. The second wisdom as Prophet PBUH teaches us: “So it can feed the poor and needy.” The day of Eid is a celebration so the poor and needy can also enjoy celebrating this day.
This view is based upon a hadith which is: “The Messenger of ALLAH PBUH, enjoined Zakat-al-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 Sadaqa for the one who pays it after the Eid prayer.”
So basically, there are two main purposes:
1. One is related to the individual; on completion of his fast compensation for any shortcomings in his acts of speech.
2. Another one is related to society; to spread love and happiness among its members, particularly the poor and needy, on the day of Eid.
How to calculate Zakat-al-Fitr?
The amount of Zakat-al-Fitr is the same for everyone, regardless of their different income brackets. The minimum amount is one Saa’ (a measurement of four double handfuls) of food, dried dates, or barley for each member of the family.
Ibn-e-Umar (may ALLAH be pleased with him) reported that: “The Messenger of ALLAH PBUH ordained Zakat-al-Fitr as a Saa’ of dates or a Saa’ of barley, on the slave and freeman, male and female, and young and old Muslims, and he ordered it to be disbursed before people go out to the Eid prayer.”
One Saa’ is almost 2.50kg of barley. It is recommended to give fitrana in the form of food, e.g., rice, dates, and wheat. Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri (may ALLAH be pleased with him) said.:
“We used to pay on the day of Fitr during the time of the Messenger of ALLAH a Saa’ of food,” and he (Abu Sa’eed) said: “And our foods were barley, raisins, cheese, and dates.”
When to Pay Zakat-al-f-Fitr?
The time of paying Zakat-al-Fitr starts after the sunset on the last day of Ramadan, which is the beginning of the month of Shawwal, and it ends before starting the Eid prayer. Some scholars say that it is also permissible to pay
Zakat-al-Fitr one or two days before Ramadan ends. Ibn-e-Umar reported that: “The Messenger of ALLAH PBUH enjoined Zakat-al-Fitr in Ramadan.”
The Prophet PBUH commanded that Zakat-al-Fitr should be paid before the Salat-al-Eid. Ibn-e-Abbas narrated that the Prophet PBUH said:.
“Whoever pays it before the prayer, it is accepted as Zakat-al-Fitr, and whoever pays it after the prayer, it is an ordinary charity.”
(Abu Dawud: 1609, Ibn-e-Majah: 1827)
Whoever delays it after its given time has sinned, and he has to repent for it and give it to the poor.
To whom should Zakat-al-Fitr be given?
Zakat-al-Fitr should be given to the poor Muslims in your neighborhood or city. Ibn-e-Abbas said: “The Messenger of ALLAH PBUH enjoined Zakat-al-Fitr in Ramadan to feed the poor.”
Zakat-al-Fitr can be given to any and all the categories to whom Zakat-al-Maal is given, as mentioned in the Qur’an: “Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of ALLAH and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by ALLAH. And ALLAH is Knowing and Wise.” (Surah At-Taubah: 09)
It is not permissible to give Zakat-al-Fitr to a charitable building project. The spirit of Zakat-al-Fitr is that the needy should have plentiful food on the day of Eid.
Difference between Zakat and Zakat-al-Fitr:
One should not confuse Zakat-al-Fitr with Zakat-al-Maal. Zakat-al-Maal, commonly known as zakat is a pillar of Islam. It is due when a person’s wealth reaches the nisaab amount and can be paid anytime during the year. In contrast, Zakat-al-Fitr is paid after the month of fasting before Eid-al-Fitr prayer.