“Felicitous (with salvation & eternal happiness) is one who purifies oneself (from impurity in belief, character & actions)” The Holy Qur’an (Sura A’laa, 87:14)
What is Zakat al-Fitrah?
It is an obligation on the believers to pay zakāt al-fiṭrah at the end of the holy month of Ramaḍān. This generous gesture ensures a radiant smile on the faces of needy fellow sisters and brothers and gives them an opportunity to cherish the celebration of ʿĪd (Eid). It also inspires us to continue making the needy ones our perpetual partners in the blessed wealth as long as their need exists. What counts is our Godly gesture of imitating Him in some of His sublime values. Imam Sajjād (as) has rightly put forth in the famous duʿā’ entitled Duʿā’ Abū Ḥamza al-Thumālī: The creation in its entirety is Your child. Therefore, by helping the needy, we are trying to demonstrate a Godly value.
(NB All the rulings mentioned hereunder are based on the fatāwā of Ayatullah al-Údhma Sistani (may God Grant him healthy long life))
WF-AID is facilitating Zakat al-Fitrah payments in Africa and South Asia this Eid al-Fitr for those needing their payments to be delivered on their behalf.
Zakat al-Fitrah costs £5.50/$7.50 USD per person.
It is reported on the authority of Imām al-Ṣādiq (as):
“Indeed, one of the signs of the completion of fasting (the month of Ramadan) is to pay the zakat i.e. fitrah; just as sending blessings upon the Prophet (saw) in tashahhud is one of the signs of the completion of salat.
Indeed, whosoever fasts but does not pay Zakat al-Fitrah, the fasting is not accepted when it is abandoned intentionally, and likewise, salat is not accepted if one abandons blessings upon the Prophet (saw), whereas Allah (swt) has mentioned zakat before the salat”.
Allah (swt) says: Felicitous is one who purifies oneself and celebrates the name of the Lord and prays”. (Qur’an 87:14-15)
Who must give Zakāt al-Fiṭrah?
Every Muslim who is of the age of legal responsibility (bāligh), sane, and not poor must give zakāt al-fiṭrah. A poor person is someone who cannot meet his and his family’s living expenses for one year (e.g. through their savings) and does not have an occupation by which he can meet his and his family’s expenses for one year.
A person who must give fiṭrah must also give it on behalf of those who are financially dependent on him (e.g. wife and children), whether they are in his town or in another town.
What is the ruling on guests?
It is obligatory on one to give the fiṭrah of a guest who arrives at his house before sunset on the eve of Eīd al-Fiṭr and spends the night at his place and is considered to be his dependent for the night.
The fiṭrah of a guest who arrives at one’s house after sunset on the eve of Eīd al-Fiṭr is, based on precaution, obligatory on the host provided that the guest is considered to be the host’s dependant; otherwise, it is not. If a person is invited to break his fast (ifṭār) on the eve of Eīd al-Fiṭr, he is not considered to be the host’s dependant and the guest’s fiṭrah is not the responsibility of the owner of the house.
What if I am dependent on someone who is not going to give zakāt al-fiṭrah on my behalf?
If the person on whom it is obligatory to give your fiṭrah does not or cannot give it, then based on precaution it becomes obligatory on you to give your own fiṭrah provided that the conditions mentioned previously are fulfilled. The obligation on the one who should have given it is not exempted.
What must be given as Zakat al-Fitrah?
One ṣāʿ – which is approximately three kilograms – of food per head. The food that one gives must be considered to be a staple food in his town, such as wheat, barley, dates, raisins, rice, millet, or something similar. It suffices if one gives the food’s monetary value instead.
This can be calculated as an estimated payable amount of £5.50 / $7.50 USD for each person.
When does Zakat al-Fitrah become obligatory (wajib)?
Zakāt al-fiṭrah becomes obligatory at the time of sunset (ghurūb) on the eve of Eīd al-Fiṭr.
If a person performs Eid prayers, then based on obligatory precaution he must give fiṭrah before Eid prayers. However, if he does not perform Eid prayers, he can delay giving fiṭrah until the time of ẓuhr prayers on the day of Eīd al-Fiṭr.
With what intention must a person give Zakat al-Fitrah?
A person must give fiṭrah with the intention of qurbah – i.e. to humbly obey Allah (swt).
What happens if someone forgets or does not give zakāt al-fiṭrah on time?
If a person does not give fiṭrah until the time of ẓuhr prayers on the day Eīd al-Fiṭr and does
not set it aside either, then based on obligatory precaution he must give fiṭrah afterwards
without making the intention of giving it within its prescribed time (adāʾ) or belatedly
(qaḍāʾ). He must give it with the intention of qurbatan ilallāh only.
What is the ruling about sayyids?
A person who is not a sayyid cannot give fiṭrah to a sayyid, but the reverse is permissible.
Can we give zakāt al-fiṭrah in advance?
You cannot give fiṭrah (as fiṭrah) before the month of Ramadan. However, there is no problem if you give a loan to a poor person before Ramadan and then count the loan as fiṭrah (i.e. you change your intention to fiṭrah) once fiṭrah becomes obligatory on you.
As for during Ramadan, it is better that you do not give fiṭrah during the month of Ramadan unless you opt for the loan formula mentioned above.
To whom must zakāt al-fiṭrah be given?
Based on obligatory precaution, fiṭrah must only be given to poor Shias. If there are no poor Shias in one’s town, it can be given to other Muslims who are poor, but in any case, fiṭrah must not be given to a nāṣibī (i.e. someone who shows enmity towards the Imams (a)).
The obligatory precaution is that fiṭrah must not be given to someone who consumes alcohol, or does not perform prayers, or publicly commits sins. Furthermore, fiṭrah must not be given to someone who spends it for sinful purposes.
It is recommended that in giving fiṭrah one should prefer his poor relatives and neighbours over others, and it is befitting that one also gives preference to learned, religious, and virtuous persons over others.
Can I pay my zakāt al-fiṭrah electronically?
Simply by transferring an amount in lieu of zakāt al-fiṭrah electronically does not fulfil the sharʿī requirements for the payment of Fitrah. An individual who wishes to transfer a payment in lieu of zakāt al-fiṭrah to an organisation (such as The World Federation) must appoint the person or persons responsible for zakāt al-fiṭrah matters of that organisation as his or her representative/agent (wakīl) for distributing the fiṭrah payment to the deserving
needy. Therefore, just so that this is absolutely clear in the mind of the payer of fiṭrah, it is better for him or her to make the following intention (niyyah) when transferring the funds electronically:
“I am appointing the person or persons responsible for zakāt al-fiṭrah matters of such and such organisation (e.g. local Jamat, Regional Federation, or The World Federation of KSIMC) to distribute this as zakāt al-fiṭrah to the deserving needy on my behalf in accordance with sharʿī rules, qurbatan ilallāh.”
Please note that the above rules are only an overview of the rulings on Zakat al-Fitrah according to His Eminence al-Sayyid al-Sistani (may Allah protect him). For more information, please see Islamic Laws.
For specific questions about your situation, please visit Ask an Alim, where you can submit a question and get a response from an Alim or view similar questions which may apply to you.