ZAKAT UL-FITR

Zakat al Fitr is an obligatory charity on every Muslim at the end of the month of Ramadan. Ibn Umar, RadhiAllahu Anhuma, said: "The Prophet, sallaallahualayhe wa sallam, enjoined the payment of one Sa’a of dates or one Sa’a of barley as Zakat al-Fitr on every Muslim, young and old, male and female, free and slave.” [Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The purpose of Zakat al-Fitr is to purify the one who has fasted from any type of indecent act or speech he might have committed while fasting. It also helps the poor and the needy. Ibn Abbas said: “The Messanger of Allah, sallaallahu ‘alayhe wa sallam, enjoined Zakat al-Fitr on the one who fasts to shield him from any indecent act or speech and for the purpose of providing food for the needy.” [Related by Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah.]

The Amount of Zakat al-Fitr

As the first hadeeth indicated, the amout of Zakat al-Fitr is one Sa’a. Sa’a is a volume measure correspoding approximately to the volume of 5 lb of good wheat. The material of the Zakat can be either dates, barley, wheat, rice, corn or similar items considered as basic foods. Abu Saeed said: “We used to give for Zakat al-Fitr on behalf of every child, aged person, free man or slave during the lifetime of the Messanger of Allah,sallaallahu `alayhe wa sallam, one Sa’a of food, or one Sa’a of dried yogurt, or one Sa’a of barley, or one Sa’a of dates, or one Sa’a of raisins.” [Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.]

The Time for Zakat al-Fitr

Zakat al-Fitr has to be paid by the end of Ramadhan. There are two times to pay Zakat al-Fitr. Either one or two days before Eid as ‘Umar, RadhiAllahu Anhu, used to do, or the day of Eid before the Eid prayer. Ibn Umar, RadhiAllahu Anhuma, reported that the Prophet, sallaallahualayhe wa sallam, ordered them to pay Zakat al-Fitr before they go out to perform the Eid prayer. If Zakat al-Fitr is paid after the Eid prayer, it will only be considered as regular charity. The Prophet, sallaallahu `alayhe wa sallam, said: “If one pays Zakat al-Fitr before the Salat, it is considered an accepted Zakat, if he pays it after the Salat, it is considered an ordinary charity.” [Related by Abu Dawud.]

Zakat al-Fitr is to be given to the same eight categories or people as in the other types of Zakat. Some scholars say that the poor and the nedy are the most deserving ones since the Prophet, sallaallahu `alayhe wa sallam, said that it had “…the purpose of providing food for the needy.”

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