Zakat: Zakat of al-Fitr And Zakat of Wealth
Zakat Is Divided Into Two Main Categories:
1. Zakat of al-Fitr (i.e. the breaking of the fast at the end of Ramadan. It
is also referred to as the Zakat of the body.
2. Zakat of wealth.
Zakat of al-Fitr:
Muhammad (Peace be upon him) ordered that this kind of charity should be
observed in the same year in which the fasting during Ramadan was imposed.
A day, or two days preceding al-Fitr the Prophet (Peace be upon him) addressed
the Muslims saying: "Give for charity, be it corn or dates; give according to
what you are, free or slave, young or old."
It is also related by al-Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet (Peace be upon
him) imposed the charity of al-Fitr after Ramadan, a measure of dates or
barley on all Muslims, slave or free, young or old, male or female.
Those Who Have To Practise Zakat Al-Fitr
Zakat al-Fitr does not become nullified if one is a Muslim, provided the
Muslim is free and possesses the amount of Zakat after covering the expenses
of food for himself, and those whom he feeds for a day and a night, together
with the expenditure which he incurs in relation to wife, son, servants and
those whom he has to provide for such as parents and others.
The amount is either a measure of dates, or barley, or rice, or corn, or
anything else edible that can be used for food, from each individual.
If Zakat is to consist of wheat it is half that for each person. A man must
consciously intend Zakat, since without intent it is not valid.
Zakat in cash varies in estimation according to the current value of money at
the time of Zakat.
The Hanafi sect allows the person to pay in cash for Zakat, indeed, it
considers that this is preferable because it is more useful to the poor, since
they know what they need most - it might be food and it might be medicine.
The Time to Practise Zakat al-Fitr
All the learned have agreed that the time to practise it is the end of
Ramadan. They disagree upon the time of day, whether it is to be sunset on the
day preceding al Fitr or dawn on the day of the feast.
One thing is certain, and that is al-Zakat has to be fulfilled before going
out to the prayers.
Ibn Omar said: ''The Prophet ordered us to fulfil Zakat al-Fitr before going
out to prayers''.
It is also permitted to offer it a day or two before that date: Others even
say that one is allowed to do so from the beginning of Ramadan. It is
definitely not permitted after the day of the feast. It is then not Zakat but
It is related, through Ibn Abbas, that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)
ordered Zakat al-Fitr as purification for the one who fasts from vain things,
and as a help and sustenance to the poor. He who practises it before the
prayer, his Zakat is acceptable, but for he who fulfils it after the prayer it
is simply Sadaqa (alms-giving).
Zakat al-Fitr does not become nullified if one is late in fulfilling it - it
is still a duty for all Muslims. A man must fulfil it somehow, or else his
account will be settled in relation to it on the day when no repentance is
accepted and no money is available.
Use of Zakat al-Fitr
It has many uses and benefits for those who fulfill it and for society as a
whole. The one who fulfills it is purified through it from that which might
have spoiled his fasting, such as vain acts or unseemly speech which he is
required to abstain from, as he abstains from eating or drinking, or lusts of
the flesh – and there is hardly a person who is not open to these - so that
Zakat is a purification to those who fast. Perhaps that is what is meant by
the saying of Muhammad (Peace be upon him):
"Fasting in the month of Ramadan lies suspended between the earth and Heaven.
It is only-raised (to Heaven) by Zakat of al-Fitr"
It is also a duty binding upon every single person falling under the guidance
of the faster, young or old, free or slave. It is thus the Zakat of the body,
as it is the Zakat of al-Fitr. From this deduction, comes the hope that to God
Almighty it is a means of preserving the bodies of all who fulfill it, and of
purifying and improving their bodies.
That as what is meant by His words:
"Of their good take alms, so that you may purify and improve them thereby".
[Surah At-Tawbah: 103]
As for benefits to society, we all realise that it (al Zakat) provides for the
poor in a way that makes humility unnecessary on that day.
That is explained by the Prophet's saying:
"Relieve them of the necessity of going around (looking for alms) on this
Another benefit to society is that all, poor and rich alike, feel the general
joy of that day. It is not for the rich only.
Also, the poor person who receives alms feels rich on that day by receiving
them. He, therefore, seeks ways of practising charity himself and that day he
feels that he too is a giver and takes delight in giving. He becomes
accustomed to the feeling, albeit rare, that he is one to do good and not to
have good done to him.
To fulfill this kind of Zakat a person must be:
1) A Muslim, for Zakat is not a duty for the non-Muslim.
2) Free, for slaves are not supposed to pay it.
3) To have reached maturity. It is not binding upon the minor; it is binding
upon his wealth and it is the duty of his guardian to extract it from his (the
4) Sane, for Zakat is not a duty for the insane. It is, nevertheless, the duty
of his guardian to produce it from the person's wealth. It is thus enforceable
upon the wealth of the insane.
5) He must have the total (in terms of wealth) which entails payment of Zakat.
6) This total should have been his for specified time in order to justify
Zakat i.e. for one year or 12 lunar months.
This does not apply to produce or fruits of the land. The time to fulfill the
Zakat on these is the time of harvesting, when the fruits and produce are
fully ripe. This is specified in the Qur'an:
"Eat of their fruit in their season, but render the dues that are proper on
the day that the harvest is gathered". [Surah Al-An'am: 141]