Zakah al-Fitr Q&A
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. Peace and
blessings be upon our Prophet, Muhammad, his family and all his Companions.
The following is a clarification of the rulings concerning Zakah al-Fitr, this
great symbol of Islam, for Muslims residing in Britain and other non-Muslim
1. What is Zakah al-Fitr?
Zakah al-Fitr is a zakah which is given at the end of the month of Ramadan by
every Muslim, small or old, male or female, whether free or a slave.
2. What is the wisdom behind it?
This was explained by the great exegete [mufassir] of the Qur'an, the noble
Companion, 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas when he said, ''The Messenger of Allah, may
Allah praise and send peace and blessings upon him, obligated Zakah al-Fitr to
serve as purification for the one fasting for any vain speech or indecent
behaviour; and also to serve as food for the indigent. Whoever gives it before
the prayer (of 'Id), it is an accepted zakah, whoever gives it after the
prayer, it is to be regarded as sadaqah.'' [Recorded by Abu Dawud and
authenticated by Al-Albani]
«عن ابن عباس قال: فرض رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم زكاة الفطر طهرة للصائم من
اللغو والرفث وطعمة للمساكين من أداها قبل الصلاة فهي زكاة مقبولة ومن أداها بعد
الصلاة فهي صدقة من الصدقات» رواه أبو داود وصححه الألباني
3. What is the legal ruling?
In the view of the majority of scholars, both early and later generations, it
is obligatory. This is due to the saying of Ibn 'Umar, ''The Messenger of
Allah obligated Zakah al-Fitr as one sa' of dates, or one sa' of barley upon
the slave, the free, the male, the female, the young and the old Muslim. He
ordered that it be given before the people leave for the prayer.'' [Reported
«فرض رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم زكاة الفطر، صاعا من تمر أو صاعا من شعير، على
العبد والحر، والذكر والأنثى، والصغير والكبير، من المسلمين، وأمر بها أن تؤدى
قبل خروج الناس إلى الصلاة» رواه البخاري
4. On whom is it obligatory?
It is obligatory upon the Muslim, male or female; whether a slave or free, if
he finds that he has a surplus of property after having catered for his core
needs on the day and night of 'Id such as food, shelter, clothes etc. He must
give this on his own behalf and on behalf of all Muslims who are dependant
upon him, whether young or old, free or a slave, provided that the dependant
is not able to give the zakah on his or her own behalf. If they are able, it
is better that they give on their own behalf due to the generality of the
address that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, gave to the
With regard to the young and insane, it should be paid on their behalf by
their legal guardian from their own wealth if they have wealth, or if not,
they take the ruling of those who are unable to pay on their own behalf. If a
woman is the head of the household, she must pay on her own behalf and for her
dependants as previously explained.
The meaning of 'dependant' is the person on whom it is a duty upon another to
provide for. If someone were to give on behalf of a dependant who is a
disbeliever, there is no harm in this insha'Allah in accordance to the Hanafi
5. To whom should it be given?
It is best for Zakah al-Fitr to be given to the poor and indigent. They are
the first two categories of the eight to whom Zakah is normally given to. This
is due to his (peace and blessings be upon him) saying, ''...and as food for
The majority of scholars are of the opinion that Zakah al-Fitr is not to be
given to non-Muslims.
It is possible for a person to give his and his dependants Zakah al-Fitr to
one person just as it is possible that the Zakah al-Fitr of one person be
distributed amongst a number of indigent people.
6. When should it be given?
It is best that it be given one or two days before the 'Id prayer, meaning
that it should be given on the twenty-ninth day of Ramadan onwards; al-Bukhari
records, 'They would give Zakah al-Fitr a day or two before 'Id.
«وكانوا يعطون قبل الفطر بيوم أو يومين» رواه البخاري
In the case that one giving Zakah al-Fitr gives money to an Islamic
organization which acts as a representative on his behalf to convert this
money to food, there is no harm in giving the value in money to such an
organization a number of days before 'Id. This is because in this case someone
else is acting on his behalf and he is not giving Zakah directly; the person
to whom he is giving money is acting as his representative and hence he is not
actually giving the Zakah at the time he hands over the money.
It is best for a person to give it before his 'Id prayer and
that to not delay it till after the prayer due to the saying of Ibn 'Umar,
'The Prophet ordered that it be given before the people leave for the prayer.'
If the person is to pray in a Mosque in which a number of 'Id congregations
will be held, and he decides to pray in the second congregation, for example,
then the deadline for his Zakah al-Fitr is extended until just before he prays
7. What should be given?
Zakah al-Fitr should be given as staple food of the country in which one
resides. Hence it is possible that it be given as rice in some countries and
flour or wheat in others etc. It is also possible to give it as modern day
food items, provided that the food can be stored, such as pasta. The proof for
this is the hadith of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri who said, ''We would give zakah al-Fitr
as a sa' of food, or a sa' of barley, or a sa' of dates, or a sa' of dry
cheese, or a sa' of raisins.'' [Agreed upon]
«كنا نخرج زكاة الفطر، صاعا من طعام، أو صاعا من شعير، أو صاعا من تمر، أو صاعا
من أقط، أو صاعا من زبيب» متفق عليه
8. How much should be given?
A sa' of food in modern day usage translates to approximately 2.25kg.
9. Can the monetary value of food be given as Zakah al-Fitr?
The majority of scholars say that this is not permissible whereas the Hanafis
say that it is. It is best for a person to not give its monetary value but
give it as food because this is what the texts specify. Moreover, the specific
reasoning of the text further proves that this is what should be given.
Therefore, it is not possible to exercise ijtihad on this issue by claiming
that one is looking to the reasoning behind the ruling. Furthermore, Zakah al-Fitr
is a very specific form of Zakah and one cannot make an analogy between it and
the Zakah of one's wealth and property: its source is different, the ones upon
whom it is obligatory are different and its timing is different. As such, it
cannot be said that it has the same purpose and can be associated to it in
10.How should one give Zakah al-Fitr in the UK and other similar countries?
If a Muslim finds one who is deserving of Zakah al-Fitr, he must give them a
sa' of food. If he does not find anyone, he can give an amount of money which
is equivalent to the cost of food in these countries to an Islamic
organization that can distribute it as food in other lands. His intention
should be that he is giving this money to a representative who can act on his
behalf to buy food. The scholars have allowed this transferal, especially in
demanding situations. Our state of affairs here, where it is hard to find the
poor and indigent; the difficulty that exists in trying to give it as food;
along with the dire need that exists in other lands presents a compelling case
for the allowance of food to be distributed in other countries.
And Allah knows best.
Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad