Zakatul-Fitr: When is the payment due
May 18 2020 12:50 AM

Imaams Ash-Shaafi’ee and Ahmad state that the Zakatul-Fitr payment becomes obligatory after sunset on Eid’s eve, or the last day of fasting, because this is the end of Ramadan. Abu Haneefah (and also Ash-Shaafi’ee in an earlier opinion of his) held that the sum of Zakatul-Fitr becomes obligatory at the dawn of Eid day because it is reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, commanded his Companions to pay Zakatul-Fitr before going out to perform the prayer of Eid [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]. (Therefore, if one has a newborn before the dawn of Eid, or one dies after the sunset of the final day of fasting, his or her Zakatul-Fitr must be paid, according to Abu Haneefah).
Also, according to Abu Haneefah it is possible to pay Zakatul-Fitr in Ramadan in advance, or even just prior to the commencement of Ramadan. Ash-Shaafi’ee  however, holds that Zakatul-Fitr can be given on the first day of fasting Ramadan. Imaams Maalik and Ahmad  state that its payment becomes obligatory after the sunset of the last day of Ramadan, but can be paid one or two days earlier.
Where should Zakatul-Fitr be paid?
In general, the best place for the collection and distribution of one’s Zakaah and charity—and this includes Zakatul-Fitr—is one’s locality or community, be it in one’s city, state, or country. This is strongly implied in the statement of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, in sending the famed Companion Mu’aath Ibn Jabal, radhiallah ‘anhu, to teach the people of Yemen. He said to him, “Inform them that Allah has made the paying of Zakaah obligatory on them. Take it from their rich and give it to their poor.”
There are provisions for transferring Zakaah resources to other communities among Muslims; however, special guidelines for doing so have been established by Muslim scholars in accordance with Islamic legislation, to which the institutions responsible for the collection and distribution of Zakaah among Muslims must adhere.
Zakatul-Fitr: A favourable sign for our community
The reemergence of Muslim concern for the payment and collection of all Zakaah resources and charities—especially Zakatul-Fitr —is an auspicious sign, indeed, for the Muslim community. Zakaah has increasingly taken a central place in contemporary Muslim discourse, as its dynamic (almost miraculous) possibilities are again being realised by Muslims. It is one of the most blessed and pleasing expressions of our worship, to which Allah alone has guided us. And all goodness and truth is from Him alone.
1. Zakatul-Fitr is obligatory upon every Muslim who has the food or provision to sustain himself, and those whom he is obligated to support, on the eve and the day of Eid, provided that this exceeds his basic needs.
2. A man is obliged to pay Zakatul-Fitr for his wife and minor children who have no money of their own. In the case of one who has independent children, one is not obliged for their payment.
3. What is obligatory is the giving of a Saa’ (four handfuls) of dates, barley, raisins, or other such grain, equal to about 2.25kg of wheat. Originally, the giving of Zakatul-Fitr was limited to the kinds of food that had been stated in the relevant statement of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. However, jurists have established (through proper methods) that it may be given out of other commonly consumed foods, such as rice, meat, milk and so forth, but should be valued in accordance with the items specified by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Moreover, it is permissible to give Zakatul-Fitr in currency by paying the equivalent value of what is obligated. Those Muslim institutions entrusted with its collection and distribution are required to assess the value of the originally specified items in their areas, and to disseminate that information in their communities, accordingly.
4. Zakatul-Fitr must be given before the prayer of Eid. It is forbidden to delay it until after the Eid day. If one, for any reason, is prevented from giving it at that particular time, one must pay it after that time passes. If there is a need, Zakatul-Fitr may be given at any time from the beginning of the month of Ramadan that is, its first day—until the end of the specified time [of Eid day].
5. It is permissible for one to delegate another to give Zakatul-Fitr on one’s behalf.
6. It is permissible for the institutions that collect Zakatul-Fitr to exchange it from goods to currency, and vice versa, based on the general interest of the community.
7. It is permissible, in special cases, to transfer Zakatul-Fitr collections from the people or locality in which it was collected to nearby communities in more need. And it is equally permissible to spend Zakatul-Fitr in another community, if the giving community has no one in need of it.
8. One must have a clear intention before giving one’s Zakatul-Fitr. If one delegates, or gives permission, to another to give Zakatul-Fitr on his behalf, it is considered an explicit intention.
9. The Zakatul-Fitr payment should be dedicated to the poor and the needy. In some cases, however, it can be given to eligible recipients of Zakat of wealth; namely those stated by Allah in the following verse (which means): “for the poor and the needy, and for those who work [to administer it], and for those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and for freeing captives (or slaves), and for those in debt, and for the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarer…” [Qur’an 9:60]
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