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Zakat: Zakat of al-Fitr And Zakat of Wealth

EsinIslam Ramadan Explorer

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.

Its amount

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 Sadaqa (alms).

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 day."

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.

Its condition

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 minor's) wealth.
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]
 

EsinIslam Ramadan Team

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