Zakat al-Fitr is an important part of Ramadan and a key charity given for the love of Allah (SWT). It must be given before Eid prayer in the form of what is considered as staple food in the community.
Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:
“The Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) ordained Zakat ul Fitr to purify the fasting person from indecent words or actions, and to provide food for the needy. It is accepted as zakah for the person who gives it before the Eid prayer; but it is a mere sadaqah for the one who gives it after the prayer.”[Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah]
Calculating Sadaqa Al-Fitr
According to the Prophet Muhammad, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, the amount of Sadaqa Al-Fitr given by each person should be an amount equivalent to one sa’a of grain. A sa’a is an ancient measure of volume, and various scholars have struggled to interpret this amount in modern measurements. The most common understanding is that one sa’a is equivalent to 2.5 kilograms (5 pounds) of wheat.
Rather than wheat grain, each individual Muslim—man or woman, adult or child, sick or healthy individual, old or young family member—is asked to give away this amount of one of a recommended list of nonperishable food staples, which may be a food other than wheat. The senior member of the household is responsible for paying the total amount for the family. So, for a family of four individuals (two adults and two children of any age), the head of the household should purchase and give away 10 kilograms, or 20 pounds, of food.
Recommended foods may vary according to the local diet, but traditionally include:
When to Pay Sadaqa Al-Fitr, and to Whom
Sadaqa Al-Fitr is linked directly to the month of Ramadan. Observant Muslims must make the donations in the days or hours just prior to the Eid Al-Fitr prayer. This prayer occurs early on the first morning of Shawwal, the month following Ramadan.
The beneficiaries of Sadaqa Al-Fitr are members of the Muslim community who do not have enough to feed themselves and their family members. According to Islamic principles, Sadaqa Al-Fitr is traditionally delivered directly to individuals in need. In some places, that means one family may take the donation directly to a known needy family. In other communities, the local mosque may collect all of the food donations from members for distribution to appropriate other community members. It is recommended that the food is donated to one’s local community.
In modern Muslim communities, Sadaqa al-Fitr can be calculated in cash and paid to the needy.