Monday 17 April 2023

What is Zakatul-Fitr? Why, when and to whom it is given

The ongoing month of Ramadan is about to end and with the siting of the new moon a few days from now, the festival of Eid al-Fitr (عيد الفطر) will take place on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal. On this day the believers thank Allah for having blessed them the strength to endure the hunger and thirst during the month long fasting in Ramadan.

On this day, men and women move out happily to the central places or masjid to offer the special Eid prayers. However, before one leaves for Eid prayers, one has to give out Zakatul-Fitr, a form of charity. Zakatul-Fitr is called as Sadaqat al-Fitr /  صَدَقَةِ الْفِطْرِ or simply Fitrana in some countries. The question here arises that what form of charity is this? Is it other than the mandatory Zakat, which is paid on yearly basis or other alms and sadaqat? Why is this paid before the Eid prayers and to whom?

We share a hadith attributed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ that answer the question and is mentioned in Sunan Ibn Majah, Book 8 The Chapters Regarding Zakat - كتاب الزكاة ,  Chapter 21 Sadaqat al-Fitr / باب صَدَقَةِ الْفِطْرِ as Hadith 1827

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ بَشِيرِ بْنِ ذَكْوَانَ، وَأَحْمَدُ بْنُ الأَزْهَرِ، قَالاَ حَدَّثَنَا مَرْوَانُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو يَزِيدَ الْخَوْلاَنِيُّ، عَنْ سَيَّارِ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ الصَّدَفِيِّ، عَنْ عِكْرِمَةَ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ فَرَضَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ زَكَاةَ الْفِطْرِ طُهْرَةً لِلصَّائِمِ مِنَ اللَّغْوِ وَالرَّفَثِ وَطُعْمَةً لِلْمَسَاكِينِ فَمَنْ أَدَّاهَا قَبْلَ الصَّلاَةِ فَهِيَ زَكَاةٌ مَقْبُولَةٌ وَمَنْ أَدَّاهَا بَعْدَ الصَّلاَةِ فَهِيَ صَدَقَةٌ مِنَ الصَّدَقَاتِ ‏.‏

Ibn Abbas said: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) enjoined Zakatul-Fitr as a purification for the fasting person from idle talk and obscenities, and to feed the poor. Whoever pays it before the (Eid) prayer, it is an accepted Zakah, and whoever pays it after the prayer, it is (ordinary) charity.”

Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)

While the payment of this form of charity cleanses one's fasts from the idle talk while fasting, the ultimate beneficiary of Zakatul-Fitr is the poor and needy so that they can also join in the festivities of Eid by buying clothes for the children or preparing a few dishes. Here care must be taken that  Zakatul-Fitr be given only to the poor and not to the beggars, which is usually the case. This is the beauty of Islam that the poor are always remembered and helped on special occasions, besides helping them through Zakat and alms. And remember, give out  Zakatul-Fitr before the Eid prayer, the best would be a day or two earlier so that the poor can buy clothes or food for the family.
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

Please refer to our reference page: Sunnah and Hadith of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to know more about sunnah of Prophet of Allah. You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.

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