Dear brothers and sisters,
Assalamu Alaikum, Praise be to Allah.
Sadaqat (Zakat) al-fitr is obligatory upon every Muslim who is self-supporting, if he has one saa’ or more than he needs of food for himself and his family on the day and night of Eid. The basis for that is the report narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) who said:
“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enjoined zakat al-fitr, a saa’ of dates, or a saa’ of barley, upon all the Muslims, slave and free, male and female, young and old, and he commanded that it be paid before the people went out to pray.” Agreed upon; this version was narrated by al-Bukhaari.
And Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri narrated: “We used to pay zakat al-fitr when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was alive, a saa’ of food or a saa’ of dates or a saa’ of barley or a saa’ of raisins or a saa’ of dried yoghurt.” Agreed upon. It is acceptable to give a saa’ of the local staple food such as rice as in Japan etc.
What is meant by a saa’ here?
It is the saa’ of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), which is four times the amount that may be held in the two hands of a man of average build which is about 3 kg.
To whom should zakat al-fitr be given?
Zakat al-fitr should be given to the poor and the needy Muslims in the land or city where it is given, because of the report narrated by Abu Dawood from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him), who said:
“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enjoined zakat al-fitr, to be paid in Ramadan to feed the poor…” It is permissible to send it to the poor of another land whose people are in greater need. It is not permissible to spend it on building a mosque or other charitable projects. It is also mustahabb to pay it on behalf of foetus because of what ‘Uthmaan (may Allah bepleased with him) did, but it is not obligatory because there is no evidence to that effect.
Zakat al-Fitr should not be paid on behalf of kuffar, and it is not permissible to give them anything of the zakah. If a person gives them some of the zakah, that is not sufficient.
Is the zakat al-fitr paid in cash acceptable?
Imam Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo:
Paying zakat al-fitr in cash is not acceptable according to the majority of scholars, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) enjoined that it be given in the form of the local staple food, and it is not known that he or any of his Companions gave it in the form of money.
Imam Abu Haneefah said:
It is permissible. This was narrated by Ibn al-Mundhir from Imam al-Hasan al-Basri, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez and Imam al-Thawri.
So we have to think what is the best for the poor and the needy people and select one of these two ways, it is acceptable in sha Allah.
The time for paying zakat al-fitr:
The scholars differed concerning the earliest time when zakah al-fitr may be paid, and there are several views.
1 – That it should be paid two days before Eid. This is the view of the Maalikis and Hanbalis. They quoted as evidence the hadeth of Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: They used to give (zakat) al-fitr one or two days before (Eid). Narrated by al-Bukhaari .
2 –That it is permissible to give it from the beginning of Ramadan. This is the view of the Hanafis and is the correct view according to the Shaafa’is. They said: because the reason for giving charity is fasting and then breaking the fast, so if one of these two reasons is present it is permissible to hasten it, just as it is permissible to hasten giving the zakaah of one\'s wealth after taking possession of the nisaab and before one full year has passed.
3 – That it is permissible to give it from the beginning of the year. This is the view of some of the Hanafis and some of the Shaafa’is.
Common issues regarding Zakat al-fiter and other countries:
If you wish to send the Zakat al-fiter from Japan to other country, it is necessary to calculate it according to the Japanese price (1500 JP per a person).
If some family members happen to be living in another country and they are under your care, again you have to calculate your Zakat on behalf of them according to the Japanese price (1500 JP per a person).
Paying zakat al-fitr to someone whom you delegated to pay it such as a charitable organization that will pay it at the proper time is valid and acceptable in sha Allah.
May Allah accept our fasting, Zakat and all of our good deeds in this blessed month of Ramadan.
Mohsen Shaker Bayoumy
Imam of Osaka Ibaraki Mosque