What is Zakat Al-Fitr?
Zakat Al-Fitr is a small amount of alms that Muslims are obliged to pay as charity at the end of Ramadan.The origin of the obligation can be dated to the month of Sha`ban in the second year of Hijrah. Ibn `Umar said: “Allah’s Messenger enjoined the payment of one Sa` of dates or one Sa` of barley as Zakat Al-Fitr on every Muslim slave or free, male or female, young or old, and he ordered that it be paid before the people went out to offer the `Eid prayer.”
What is the purpose of Zakat Al-Fitr?
1) For the individual, his or her payment of Zakat Al-Fitr is to ensure the completion of their fast and compensation for any shortcomings in their acts or speech.
2) For the society it is for spreading love and happiness among its members, particularly the poor and needy, during the day of Eid.
3) It also purifies one’s soul from such shortcomings as the adoration of property, and from miserliness.
4) It purifies one’s property from the stain of unlawful earnings.
When is Zakat Al-Fitr paid?
It is not permissible to delay giving Zakat Al-Fitr after the day of Eid.
Most scholars believe that it is permissible to pay Zakat Al-Fitr a day or two before Eid. Ibn Umar reported that the Prophet Mohamed PBUH ordered them to pay Zakat Al-Fitr before the people went out to perform the `Eid prayer. However some scholars like Al-Shafii & Abu Hanifa reported that it is permissible to pay Zakat Al-Fitr even in the beginning of Ramadan. Scholars who supported this opinion explained that it is better for the needy, and also to make sure that the payment reaches its intended destination. This is especially important these days as Zakat Al-Fitr is transferred from country to another and that may take at least several days.
What is the amount of Zakat Al-Fitr?
The amount of the Zakat Al-Fitr mentioned by the Prophet Mohamed PBUH is a Sa' (four handfuls with the two hands together, not closed and not opened) of dates, raisins, wheat or barley. Some scholars say it is permissible to give any kind of food as long as it is the main staple in that particular region or the normal food of the person.
However, it is permissible to give the amount of the Zakat Al-Fitr in money. This can be calculated according to the amount of food mentioned previously.