Zakaat Al-Fitr is an individual obligation upon every Muslim who can afford it, prescribed by the Sharee‘ah (Islamic legislation) based on the texts of the Quran and Sunnah (Prophetic tradition), and scholarly consensus. It was ordained, along with fasting, in the second year after Hijrah (Emigration). The recipients of Sadaqat Al-Fitrare the same recipients of general Zakaah (obligatory charity), based on what Allah The Almighty Says (which means): {Zakaah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy…} [Quran 9:60]

There is a consensus among the scholars on the obligation of Zakaat Al-Fitr, which has two conditions:

  1. The amount (one Saa’) should be superfluous over one’s own need and the need of his dependants for the day and night of ‘Eid.
  2. It should be given upon (and not before) the arrival of its due time, which is sunset of the last day of Ramadhan.

The amount given as Sadaqat Al-Fitr is a single Saa‘ for each Muslim, but it can be less than one Saa‘ if the Muslim does not find any more than that. Sadaqat Al-Fitr is obligatory upon every Muslim individually, and the Muslim is not obligated to give it on behalf of others according to the majority opinion of scholars. However, one can give it on behalf of those under his care with their consent. An exception to this ruling is the slave, for whom Sadaqat Al-Fitr is, of course, an obligation, but in his case it is acceptable for his master to pay on his behalf.

The Prophet, ﷺ, said: “There is no charity to be paid on the slave (i.e. for owning him) except Sadaqat Al-Fitr.” [Muslim]

It is recommended that the Muslim gives Sadaqat Al-Fitr on behalf of the fetus if it is four months old as ‘Uthmaan did so, and he was one of the four Rightly-Guided Caliphs regarding whom we are ordered to follow their practices.

According to an authentic narration, it is permissible to give Zakaat Al-Fitr early but only by a maximum of two days before ‘Eid as reported from Ibn‘Umar . In a Hadeeth (narration), it was said, “Ibn ‘Umar gave Sadaqat Al-Fitr for those who would accept it, and they used to receive it one or two days before ‘Eed Al-Fitr.” [Al-Bukhari]

However, it is preferable to give it before the ‘Eid Prayer due to the Hadeeth which was narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar where it was mentioned that the Prophet, ﷺ, ordered Sadaqat Al-Fitr to be distributed before Muslims go out for the ‘Eid Prayer. It is not permissible to delay it until after the ‘Eid Prayer, and if it is, it would not be valid. The Prophet, ﷺ, said:“Whoever introduces something to our affairs (i.e. religion) which does not belong to it, it will be rejected.”

Therefore, the time for giving Zakaat Al-Fitr can be one of three:

1-    Permissible: Two days before ‘Eid Al-Fitr.
2-    Recommended:  On the morning of the day of ‘Eid before the Prayer.
3-    Prohibited: After the ‘Eed Prayer, when it is not considered valid.

It is permissible to authorize someone to give Sadaqat Al-Fitr  on one’s behalf. There is no harm in delaying it for a valid reason. Sadaqat Al-Fitr can be given out of the common staple food of the country, and according to the majority of scholars, it is not permissible to give the monetary value of Sadaqat Al-Fitr. The Muslim may give one person many Saa‘s or one Saa‘ to many people.

It is preferable for the Muslim to give it personally so that he can be sure that it is delivered on time.

The Commander of the Believers, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-Azeez would command the Muslims to give Sadaqat Al-Fitr and recite the verse (which means): {He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself. And mentions the Name of his Lord and prays.}[Quran 87:14-15]

Ibn ‘Umar said, “The Prophet  ordained Zakaat Al-Fitr to be given as one Saa‘ (handful) of dates or barley for every slave and free Muslim, male or female, young or old. He ordered it to be given out before the Muslims go to the ‘Eed Prayer.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Zakah Al-Fitr is Purification for the Fasting Person and a Means to Please the Poor

Allah, the Exalted, prescribed the obligation of Zakat Al-Fitr after the completion of fasting in the blessed month of Ramadan to purify the fasting person from idle and foul speech he did whilst fasting, a means to please the poor, and a tool to

revive the spirit of cooperation, solidarity and compassion within the Muslim community. Allah, the Exalted, Says (what means): {Take [O, Muhammad] from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase…} [Quran 9:103]

Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

The Messenger of Allah   deemed Zakat Al-Fitr obligatory upon Muslims as a means of purifying the fasting person from idle talk and foul language and also to feed the poor. Whoever offers it before the (‘Eed) prayer will have it accepted as Zakaah, and whoever pays it after the prayer, it will count as a form of charity.” [Abu Dawood]

What is the religious ruling on Zakat Al-Fitr?

What is its due amount?

When and how should it be offered?

How should women pay Zakat Al-Fitr?

Shaykh ‘Abd Al-‘Azeez ibn Baz رحمه الله said:

Zakat Al-Fitr is an individual obligation upon every Muslim, young or old, male or female and free or enslaved, based on the texts of the Sunnah, as is confirmed in the narration that was narrated by Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ ordered Zakaat Al-Fitr to be given as one Saa’ (almost 3 kg) of dates or barley for every slave and free Muslim, male or female, young or old. He ordered it to be given out before the Muslims go to the ‘Eid prayer.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

There is no specific Nisab (minimum amount one should own) before must give Zakat Al-Fitr. Each and every Muslim should offer Zakat Al-Fitr on behalf of himself, his family members, children, wives and slaves as long as the amount (i.e. one Saa’) exceeds what he and his dependents need for the day and night of the ‘Eid.

The hired servant should offer Zakat Al-Fitr for himself unless the employer donates it or it was stipulated earlier (as part of his benefits).

Zakat Al-Fitr should be given out of the common staple food of the country, whether in dates, barley, wheat, corn or the like, according to the more correct opinion from the two scholarly opinions in this regard. This is because the Messenger of Allah ﷺ did not specify a certain kind of food to be given out as Zakat Al-Fitr and, and because it is a kind of consolation (to the poor), Muslims are not to do so with anything other than the main staple food of the poor.

The Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ with regards to Zakat Al-Fitr is that it is to be distributed among the poor in the giver’s own country or town—not in any other. This is in order to enrich the people of his country or town so that they will not need to ask others or be in need on that day (i.e. ‘Eid Al-Fitr). If one travels two or more days before the ‘Eid, then he should give Zakat Al-Fitr to some poor people in that Muslim country (to which he traveled). If he travels to a non-Muslim country, then he should give Zakat Al-Fitr to any poor Muslims there. If one travels after the time in which it is permissible to pay Zakat Al-Fitr (i.e. from the 28th night of Ramadan until right before the ‘Eid prayer), then he should distribute it among the poor people of his country because the purpose of Zakaat Al-Fitr is to show sympathy and kindness towards them and enrich them so that they will not ask others or be in need on that day (i.e. ‘Eid Al-Fitr).

According to the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing Fatwas:

The amount of Zakat Al-Fitr is one Saa’ of the common staple food of the country and this is not dependent on inflation. Rather, the amount set in the Sharee’ah is one Saa’.”

It was stated in Majmoo’ Al-Fataawa and the articles of Shaykh Ibn Baaz رحمه الله that:

The obligation of Zakat Al-Fitr is to give one Saa’ of the common staple food of the country according to the words of the Prophet ﷺ . This equals four handfuls (of an average man with both hands together) which weighs approximately three kilograms.

Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “We used to give one Saa’ of food, one Saa’ of barley, one Saa’ of dates, one Saa’ of Iqt (i.e. dried yoghurt), or one Saa’ of raisins (as Zakaat Al-Fitr).” [Al-Bukhari]

Muslim Scholars have unanimously agreed that Zakat Al-Fitr must be given before the ‘Eid prayer and that it is impermissible to delay it until after the prayer. There is no harm in giving it one or two days before the ‘Eid. Hence, one may offer Zakat Al-Fitr on the twenty-eighth night of Ramadan because the month may be twenty-nine or thirty days. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to offer Zakat Al-Fitr a day or two before the ‘Eid.

Muslim scholars differed on whether Zakat Al-Fitr should be given in the form of food or cash according to its value in kind. The Prophet ﷺ and his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, used to offer Zakat Al-Fitr as food. The Prophet ﷺ informed us that Allah, the Exalted, commands us to offer one Saa’ of such and such (food). Therefore, it should not be given out in cash equivalent to the value of its sale for cash is one thing and food is another. Neither the Messenger of Allah ﷺ nor his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, offered Zakat Al-Fitr in cash.

The opinion of some scholars that it can be paid in the form of money if it is better from the point of view of the recipient (i.e. poor person) does not constitute a solid argument. Muslims should give out the due Zakat Al-Fitr as Allah, the Exalted, prescribed, as food and not as cash, even if some scholars said that, this is a weak and outweighed opinion.

Dr. Fatimah Al-Jarallah, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Sharee‘ah College, Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University said:

Zakat Al-Fitr is an individual obligation on every Muslim woman as it is on every Muslim man. Muslim men and women are equal with regards to paying Zakat Al-Fitr. A woman’s father, husband, or whoever provides for her should offer Zakat Al-Fitr on her behalf. If a Muslim woman makes her own living and provides for herself, then she should offer Zakaat Al-Fitr for herself (as she has no one to financially support her). If she is a widow and has children, then Zakaat Al-Fitr for her and her children should be taken out of their shares in the husband’s inheritance. If there was no inheritance and she works and provides for her children, then she should offer Zakat Al-Fitr for herself and her children as long as the amount (of one Saa’) exceeds her own needs and that of her dependents for the day and night of the ‘Eid.