Editor’s note: As the month of Ramadan slowly coming to an end, many Muslims worldwide will be preparing for how to pay their zakat-al-fitr (Obligatory charity at the end of Ramadan).
In this Ramadan lecture, NAIJ.com examines Islamic ruling on why it is not permissible for Muslims to use money to pay zakat-al-fitr.
In the name of Allah, The most beneficent, the most merciful, whoever Allah guides, no one can lead him astray and whoever Allah sends astray, no one can guide him.
Verily the best of speech is the Book of Allah (Qur’an) and the best guidance is the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (May Allah give him peace and bless him), and the most evil matters are those that are newly invented, for every newly invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the Hell fire.
May Allah save us from the torment of Hell fire, (Aameen).
First of all it should be understood that there is a difference between zakat al-fitr which is given at the end of Ramadan, and zakaah on one’s wealth.
Zakat al-fitr is obligatory for every Muslim, to be paid on his own behalf and on behalf of those on whose maintenance he is obliged to spend, if he has wealth surplus to his and his dependents’ needs for the day and night of Eid: one saa‘.
The basis for that is the report narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) enjoined zakaat 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 zakaat al-fitr when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah 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 etc.
What is meant by a saa’ here is the saa’ of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), which is four times the amount that may be held in the two hands of a man of average build. If a person does not pay zakaat al-fitr, he is sinning, and he has to make it up.
With regard to the hadeeth mentioned, we do not know whether it is saheeh or not.
What is required in the case of zakat al-fitr is to give it in the form of the usual local staple food.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
In as-Saheehayn it is narrated that Abu Sa‘eed al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) said: We used to give it at the time of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), a saa‘of foodstuff, or a saa‘of dates, or a saa‘of barley, or a saa‘of raisins.
A number of scholars interpreted “foodstuff” in this hadeeth as referring to wheat; others are of the view is that what is meant is the foodstuff of a region, no matter what it is, whether it is wheat, corn, pearl millet, and so on.
This is the correct view, because zakaah is a means by which the rich help the poor, and the Muslim is not required to help with anything other than the staple food of his country.
This is the view favoured by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him). It was also favoured by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen and others.
Thus it is clear that zakat al-fitr is to be given in the form of regular food, not cash as mentioned in the question, and not in the form of any other alternative to cash.
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Moreover the one who gives the zakaah does not have the right to decide about the way he gives his zakaah, whether it is zakat al-fitr or zakaah on wealth, and buy something else for the poor instead of giving them their zakaah, such as buying meat or clothing and the like for them.
We ask Allaah to give you strength and to make our words and deeds and yours righteous.
Watch a NAIJ.com TV video below about how Ramadan has affected price of goods in the market: