Zakaat Al Fitr
The Arabic word Fitr is the same as “Iftar” having the same root word “Futur” meaning “breaking fast” and the word Zakat means “that which purifies”
Zakaat Al Fitr also known as Sadaqa Al Fitr is a charity that Muslims of all social classes give at the end of Ramadan. The main purpose of this charity is, it purifies our fasts from all the short comings that have occurred due human errors like laziness etc. So it acts as make up for the shortcomings during our worships in the holy month of Ramadan. The other purpose is that, it brings the different social classes into contact symbolizing brotherhood and helps the extreme poor Muslims to celebrate eid, the festival marked at the end of the Ramadan along with the other fellow Muslims. The charity has to be paid by the bread earner of the family on behalf of all the family members belonging to all the age groups who possess one Sa’a (handful of an average man) of dates or barley, and he does not use it as a basic food for himself or his family for the period of a day and a night.
Ibn ‘Umar said: “the prophet (p.b.u.h.) enjoined the payment of one sa’a of dates or one sa’a of barley as Zakat al-Fitr on every Muslim, young and old, male and female, free and slave.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Abu Saeed said: “we used to give for Zakat al-Fitr on behalf of every child, aged person, free man or slave during the lifetime of the messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) one Sa’a of food, or one Sa’a of dried yogurt, or one Sa’a of barley, or one Sa’a of dates, or one Sa’a of raisins.” (Bukhari and Muslim.)
The right time to pay zakat al Firtr is right after the eid moon has been sighted until the eid prayer, the next morning. But there is no harm if one pay it a day or two before eid.However delaying after Salatul Eid nullifies the blessings of it as Zakah i.e a compensation for our fasts and it is accepted as an ordinary charity.
The prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: “if one pays Zakat al-Fitr before the salat, it is considered an accepted Zakat, if he pays it after the salat, it is considered an ordinary charity. (Abu Dawood)
It has to be given in the form of basic foods like Dates, Barley, corn, wheat, rice and not the cash. But one can calculate the equivalent amount of one Sa’a in the form of cash of particular grains and give to the charity organization and then they distribute it in the form of grains but finally the one receiving it has to be given as a basic food and not money as per the sunnah. But since there is a difference of opinion among the imaams. Imaam Abu Hanifa permits paying it in the form of money, although it contradicts the sunnah , but looking into the contemporary situation money is more useful specially in cities. Hence the Equivalent amount of the staple food is announced by the Muslim community and people pay it in the cash.
May Almighty Allah accepts all our fasts, Qiyaams, prayers, charities and strengthen us to be steadfast on it.