Zakat al-fitr


Zakat al-fitr

Zakaat al-Fitr is charity given to the poor at the end of the fasting in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The word "Fitr" means the same as Iftar, breaking a fast and it comes from the same root word as "Futoor" which means breakfast.

Classification

"Sadaqat al-Fitr" is a duty which is wajib (required) of every Muslim, whether male or female, minor or adult as long as he/she has the means to do so.

The proof that this form of charity is compulsory can be found in the Sunnah whereby Ibn `Umar reported that the Prophet (upon whom be God's peace and blessings), made "Zakat al-Fitr" compulsory on every slave, , male, female, young and old among the Muslims; one Saa` of dried dates or one Saa` of barely. [Sahih Bukhari - Arabic/English, vol. 2, p. 339, no. 579]

The head of the household may pay the required amount for the other members. Abu Sa'eed al-Khudree said, "On behalf of our young and old, free men and slaves, we used to take out during Allaah's Messenger's (upon whom be God's peace and blessings) lifetime one Sa` of grain, cheese or raisins". [Sahih Muslim - English transl. vol. 2, p. 469, no. 2155]

ignificance

The significant role played by "Zakat" in the circulation of wealth within the Islamic society is also played by the "Sadaqat al-Fitr". However, in the case of "Sadaqat al-Fitr", each individual is required to calculate how much charity is due from himself and his dependents and go into the community in order to find those who deserve such charity. Thus, "Sadaqat al-Fitr" plays a very important role in the development of the bonds of community. The rich are obliged to come in direct contact with the poor, and the poor are put in contact with the extremely poor. This contact between the various levels of society helps to build real bonds of brotherhood and love within the Islamic community and trains those who have, to be generous to those who do not have.

Purpose

The main purpose of "Zakat al-Fitr" is to provide those who fasted with the means of making up for their errors during the month of fasting. "Zakat al-Fitr" also provides the poor with a means with which they can celebrate the festival of breaking the fast (`Eid al-Fitr) along with the rest of the Muslims.

Every Muslim is required to pay "Zakat al-Fitr" at the conclusion of the month of Ramadan as a token of thankfulness to God for having enabled him or her to observe the obligator fast. Its purpose is:

#As a levy on the fasting person. This is based on the hadith: The Prophet of Allah, upon whom be God's peace and blessings, said, "The fasting of the month of fasting will be hanging between earth and heavens and it will not be raised up to the Divine Presence without paying the "Zakat al-Fitr"."
#To purify those who fast from any indecent act or speech and to help the poor and needy.

The latter view is based upon the hadith from Ibn `Abbas who related, “The Prophet of Allah, upon whom be God's peace and blessings, 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 sadaqah for the one who pays it after the prayer.” [Abu Dawood - Eng. transl. vol. 2, p. 421, no. 1605 - rated Sahih]

Conditions

"Zakat al-Fitr" is only Wajib for a particular period of time. If one misses the time period without a good reason, he has sinned and can not make it up. This form of charity becomes obligatory from sunset on the last day of fasting and remains obligatory until the beginning of `Eid Prayer (i.e. shortly after sunrise on the following day). However, it can be paid prior to the above mentioned period, as many of the Sahabah (companions of the Prophet, upon whom be God's peace and blessings, ) used to pay "Sadaqah al-Fitr" a couple days before the `Eid.

After the spread of Islam the jurists permitted its payment from the beginning and middle of Ramadan so as to ensure that the "Zakat al-Fitr" reached its beneficiaries on the day of `Eid. It is particularly emphasized that the distribution be before the `Eid prayers in order that the needy who receive are able to use the "fitr" to provide for their dependents on the day of `Eid.

Nafi` reported that the Prophet's companion Ibn `Umar used to give it to those who would accept it and the people used to give it a day or two before the `Eid. [Bukhari - Arabic/English, Vol. 2, p.339, no. 579]

Ibn `Umar reported that the Prophet, upon whom be God's peace and blessings, order that it ("Zakat al-Fitr") be given before people go to perform the (`Eid) prayers.

One who forgets to pay this "Zakat al-Fitr" on time should do so as soon as possible even though it will not be counted as "Zakat al-Fitr".

Rate

The amount of "Zakat" is the same for everyone regardless of their different income brackets. The minimum amount is one "sa`" (four double handfuls ) of food, grain or dried fruit for each member of the family. This calculation is based on Ibn `Umar's report that the Prophet, upon whom be God's peace and blessings, made "Zakat al-Fitr" compulsory and payable by a "sa`" of dried dates or a "sa`" of barley.

The Companion of the Prophet, Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree said, "In the Prophet's time, we used to give it (Zakatal-Fitr) as a "sa`" of food, dried dates, barley, raisins or dried cheese". [Bukhari - Arabic/English vol. 2, p. 340, no. 582]

The distribution of Zakat al-Fitr is the same as that of Zakah, and is included within its broader sense. Those who may receive "Zakat al-Fitr" are the eight categories of recipients mentioned in Surat Al-Tawbah, [9: 60] . They include:
* (1) the poor
* (2) the needy,
* (3) collectors of Zakah,
* (4) reconciliation of hearts,
* (5) freeing captives / slaves(fee al-Riqab),
* (6) debtors
* (7) sadaqa in the Way of God's holy service ("fee sabeel illah")
* (8) the traveler.

"Zakat al-Fitr" must not go for building a mosque, or a school or for other thing. It must go to the above-mentioned categories. The Zakat al-mal cannot be used for such things either.

References

* [http://www.sunnah.org/ibadaat/fasting/Zakat_al_fitr.htm Zakaah al-Fitr ]
* [http://www.islamonline.net/English/Ramadan/Fiqhi_Issues/Rulings_of_Zakat-ul-Fitr/01.shtml#1 Zakat al-Fitr ]


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