Zakat-ul-Fitr is a form of Zakah paid at the conclusion of fasting in the month of Ramadan as a token of thankfulness to God for having enabled one to observe fasts. Its purpose is to purify those who fast from any indecent act or speech and to help the poor and needy. Every Muslim male or female, young or adult is required to pay. It is accepted as Zakatul Fitr for the one who pays it before the `Eid prayer, and it is Sadaqah for the one who pays it after the Eid prayer.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE PAYMENT OF ZAKATUL FITR
According to the scholars of Islamic jurisprudence, the purpose are as follow: 1. For completion of fast and compensation for any shortcomings in acts or speech. 2. For spreading of love and happiness among the members of the society, 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 provides for the needs of the poor and the indigent and relieves them from having to ask others for charity on the day of `Eid. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Fulfil their need on this day (i.e., the day of `Eid)”
WHO MUST PAY ZAKATUL FITR
Zakat-ul-Fitr is incumbent on every free Muslim who possesses one Sa` of dates or barley which is not needed as basic food for himself or his family for the duration of one day and night. Every free Muslim must pay Zakat-ul-Fitr for himself, his wife, children, and servants whether rich or poor, who possesses one Sa` in excess of his main staple food for the duration of one day and night.
ON WHAT TYPE OF FOOD CAN I PAY MY ZAKATUL FITR?
The jurists hold different views as to the types of food which must be given as Zakat-ul-Fitr. Ibn Al-Qayyim highlighted these different viewpoints and concluded that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, prescribed Zakat-ul-Fitr as one Sa` of dates, barley, raisins or dry cottage cheese. These were the main staple kinds of food in Madinah. As for people of other territories, what they should pay is one sa’ of their staple grain, such as corn, rice, etc. But if their main staple food is other than grain, such as milk, meat, fish, etc., then they should pay one Sa` of that particular food. This is the opinion of the majority of scholars and is the preferred point of view, since it achieves the purpose of fulfilling the needs of the poor on the day of `Eid with the staple food of their region.
WHAT IS THE MEASURE?
According to the Hadith stated above, it is One Sa` a certain measure which equals 4 mudd while 4 mudds equal 14cups of milk tin and is approximately 3kg.
CAN ONE PAY ZAKATUL FITR WITH MONEY?
As it was mentioned earlier, the Hanafis permitted the payment of Zakat-ul-Fitr in money. This is the view of Al-Thawri, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, and `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz. However, the other three schools did not permit this. Sheikh Qardawi stated that the purpose of Zakat-ul-Fitr is to fulfil the needs of the poor and this is achieved also by payment in money and that in most cases and most countries the payment in money is more useful to the poor.