Muslim is required to pay Zakat-ul-Fitr at the conclusion of the
month of Ramadan as a token of thankfulness to God for having
enabled him to observe fasts. Its purpose is to purify those who
fast from any indecent act or speech and to help the poor and
needy. This view is based upon the hadith which reads, “The
Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, enjoined Zakat-ul-Fitr on
those who fast to shield them from any indecent act or speech, and
for the purpose of providing food for the needy. It is accepted as
Zakah for the one who pays it before the `Eid prayer, and it is
sadaqah for the one who pays it after the prayer.” Al-Qaradawi
comments on this hadith by saying that there are two purposes: one
is related to the individual; for completion of his fast and
compensation for any shortcomings in his acts or speech. The other
is related to society; for the spreading of love and happiness
among its members, particularly the poor and needy, during the day
of `Eid. It also purifies one’s soul from such shortcomings as
the adoration of property, and from miserliness. Furthermore, it
purifies one’s property from the stain of unlawful earnings. It
is also a cure for ailments. The Prophet, peace and blessings be
upon him, said, “It would be better that you treat your patients
addition, it provides for the needs of the poor and the indigent
and relieves them from having to ask others for charity on the day
of `Eid. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said,
“Fulfil their need on this day (i.e., the day of `Eid)”
Zakat-ul-Fitr is incumbent on every free Muslim who possesses one Sa` of
dates or barley which is not needed as basic food for himself or
his family for the duration of one day and night. Every free Muslim
must pay Zakat-ul-Fitr for himself, his wife, children, and
servants. This is the opinion of Imam Malik, Al-Shafi`i, and Ahmad.
Imam Abu Hanifah, however, said that it is only obligatory for one
who possesses a nisab (a minimum amount of property) after
fulfilling the costs of his house, servant, horse, and weapon.
explained that Zakat-ul-Fitr was obligatory for all Muslims, not
only those who possess the nisab stating that this is the view of
the majority of scholars. He said, “In essence, the rationale
behind it was stated to be the purification of one who fasts from
any indecent act or speech. And since every Muslim needs this, it
is therefore obligatory upon every fasting Muslim, whether rich or
poor, who possesses one Sa` in excess of his main staple food for
the duration of one day and night. This is because so long as the
essential rationale is shared by all Muslims, then they also share
the same obligation.”
also asserts the majority view when he says, “It is a virtuous
wisdom of Islam that it makes this Zakah obligatory not only on the
rich, but also upon nearly every Muslim, for you can hardly find a
person who does not possess one Sa` of food above his main staple
food for the duration of one day and night. The wisdom behind this
obligation, therefore, is to prepare the poor to practice
benevolence and feel the dignity and honour of giving in charity.
Allah described the believers with these words, “Those who spend
(freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity…” Thus if
we contemplate on this wisdom, we will not find it strange that the
needy pay this Zakah, because it does not cause them to suffer any
loss. He will pay only his Zakah and then receive the Zakah of
various people.” 
we have to bear in mind that Zakat-ul-Fitr is obligatory for
everyone who lives until the sun sets on the last day of Ramadan.
This is the point of view of the Shafi`is, Hanbalis, and Malikis.
Accordingly, whoever dies before the sun sets on the last day of
Ramadan is exempted. Likewise, a person who has a baby on the last
day of Ramadan should pay Zakat-ul-Fitr for the baby. The majority
of jurists argue that we should not pay Zakat-ul-Fitr for an
embryo. But Imam Ahmad holds that Zakat-ul-Fitr is also obligatory
for an embryo, because it is permissible to assign property to an
embryo by means of a will.
jurists agree that Zakat-ul-Fitrr is due at the end of Ramadan.
They differ, however, about the exact time. Al-Thawri, Ishaq, Malik
(in one of two reports), and Al-Shafi`i (in one of his two
opinions), are of the opinion that it is due at the sunset of the
night of breaking the fast, for this is when the fast of Ramadan
ends. However, Al-Layth, the Hanafi school, Al-Shafi`i (in his
other opinion), and the second report of Malik say that Zakat-ul-Fitr
is due at the start of Fajr (dawn) on the day of `Eid
because it is an act of worship connected with `Eid, so the time of
its payment should not be before `Eid just as sacrifice on the `Eid
two different views acquire relevance if a baby is born after
sunset but before dawn on the day of `Eid; the question then is
whether Zakat-ul-Fitr is obligatory for the baby or not. In
accordance with the first view, it is not, since the birth took
place after the prescribed time, while according to the second
view, it is obligatory because the birth took place within the
prescribed space of time.
is not permissible to delay giving Zakat-ul-Fitr after the day of
`Eid (i.e. one may give it up to the time of the `Eid prayer).
However, there are some jurists who think that it is permissible to
delay giving it even after the `Eid prayer. The founders of the
four schools of Fiqh hold the first opinion, but Ibn Sirin and
al-Nakha‘i say that its payment can be delayed. Ahmad says: “I
hope that there is no harm [in delaying the payment].” Ibn Raslan
says that there is a consensus that payment cannot be delayed
merely for the reason that it is a type of Zakah. Thus, any delay
is a sin and is analogous to delaying one’s prayers without an
the founders of the four accepted Islamic legal schools agree that Zakat-ul-Fitr
is not nullified simply by failure to pay it on its
due time. If it is not paid before `Eid prayer, one is not exempt
from it. It becomes a debt payable even after death. The heirs must
not distribute the deceased’s legacy before payment of the
deceased’s unpaid Zakat-ul-Fitr.
scholars believe that it is permissible to pay Zakat-ul-Fitr a day
or two before `Eid. Ibn `Umar reported that the Messenger, upon
whom be peace, ordered them to pay Zakat-ul-Fitr before the people
went out to perform the `Eid prayer. Nafi‘ reported that `Umar
used to pay it a day or two before the end of Ramadan. However,
scholars hold different opinions when a longer time period is
involved. According to Abu Hanifah, it is permissible to pay it
even before Ramadan so long as you make the intention of Zakah.
Al-Shaf‘i holds that it is permissible to do so at the beginning
of Ramadan. Malik and Ahmad (in his well-known view) maintain that
it is permissible to pay it only one or two days in advance.
explains the reasons for these differences in opinion by saying
that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, used to pay Zakat-ul-Fitr
after Fajr prayer on the day of `Eid but before the
`Eid prayer for the reason that the Muslim community was still
small and limited in number. During the time of the Companions the
payment was made one or two days before the `Eid. After the spread
of Islam the jurists permitted its payment from the beginning and
middle of Ramadan so as to ensure that the Zakat-ul-Fitr reached
its beneficiaries on the day of `Eid, thereby avoiding the
possibility that the process of distribution would delay reception
of the payment after the day of `Eid. After explaining the
different views regarding the time of payment, Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr
stated that these differences of opinion among the jurists justify
some leniency for Muslims in regard to the time of payment, and
therefore a Muslim can pay at any of these times. He also took the
view that paying it at different times gives the poor and needy the
opportunity to benefit from Zakat-ul-Fitr and fulfil their needs
for longer periods.
my opinion these differences are due to taking into consideration
both the needs of the poor and the opportunity of attaining the
wisdom behind the obligation of Zakat-ul-Fitr. Therefore, the most
acceptable and practical approach is to apply whichever practice
fulfils the purpose and wisdom behind Zakat-ul-Fitr, that is
bringing happiness to the poor on the day of `Eid and giving their
children a chance to enjoy this day as others do.
jurists hold different views as to the types of food which must be
given as Zakat-ul-Fitr. The Hanbali view is that the kinds of food
which can be given are five: dates, raisins, wheat, barley, and dry
cottage cheese. Imam Ahmad is reported to have said that any kind
of staple grain or dates are also permissible, even if the above
five types are available. The Malikis and Shafi`is are of the view
that it is permissible to give any kind of food as long as it is
the main staple in that particular region or the main food of the
person. As for the Hanafis, they permit paying the value of Zakat-ul-Fitr
Al-Qayyim highlighted these different viewpoints and concluded that
the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, prescribed Zakat-ul-Fitr
as one Sa` of dates, barley, raisins or dry cottage cheese.
These were the main staple kinds of food in Madinah. As for people
of other territories, what they should pay is one sa’ of their
staple grain, such as corn, rice, etc. But if their main staple
food is other than grain, such as milk, meat, fish, etc., then they
should pay one Sa` of that particular food. This is the opinion of
the majority of scholars and is the preferred point of view, since
it achieves the purpose of fulfilling the needs of the poor on the
day of `Eid with the staple food of their region.
amount of Zakat-ul-Fitr, as we referred earlier, is one Sa` of
food. There is consensus on this amount among the scholars with
regard to all types of food except wheat and raisins. As for these
two types the Shafi`is, Malikis and Hanbalis agree that the
prescribed amount is one Sa`, however the Hanafis say it is
sufficient to pay half Sa` from wheat and they differed with regard
to raisins. After discussing the arguments of these two
opinions al-Qaradawi reached the following conclusion: wheat was
not a common food amongst them during the time of the Prophet so he
did not prescribe one Sa` of it as he did with the other types of
food. As for those of the Companions of the Prophet who prescribed
half Sa` of wheat instead of one Sa` of barely or dates like
Mu`awiyah and other Companions, he views that they did so by
analogy, since the value of wheat was more than those of other
types of food which were equal. But according to their opinion, he
says, the value should be considered and taken as the criterion and
this will cause instability and confusion for it changes from place
to another and from time to time. He mentioned that in Pakistan the
value of wheat is less than that of dates, then how should we pay
of it half the amount (i.e. Sa`) that we should pay of dates? He
also mentioned that nowadays raisins are more expensive than wheat
and dates. The only solution for these problems, he says, is to
regard Sa` as the criterion and basis.
explains why the Prophet appointed Sa` as the measure and did not
prescribe it in money saying that in his opinion there are two
reasons for this: First, money was still rare among the Arabs
particularly the Bedouins. They did not have their own currency. So
if the Prophet had prescribed it in money, he would have caused
hardship to them. Second, the purchasing power of money changes
from time to time. For instance, the purchasing power of a certain
currency sometimes becomes low and other times high, so paying Zakat-ul-Fitr
in money makes its value unstable. That is why the
Prophet prescribed it with a stable measure, that is an amount of
food which fulfils the needs of one family. For one Sa` provides a
family with food for a whole day.
is a certain measure which equals 4 mudds (a mudd equals a handful
of an average man). The contemporary equivalent weights of Sa`
differs according to the stuff which is weighted. For example a Sa`
of wheat equals 2176 grams, a Sa` of rice is 2520 grams, a Sa` of
beans equals 2250 grams etc. Therefore some scholars are of the
view that the criterion should be the measure not the weight for
there are kinds of food which are heavier than others. But I
think this is the case if the equivalent weight of a certain kind
of food is not known. If there is no available measure or weight
with the person, then he should pay 4 mudds. Nowadays, it is not
that problem because ministries of religious affairs in Muslim
countries and mosques and Islamic centres in Western countries
announce the value of Zakat-ul-Fitr every year. Anyhow, this is the
obligatory amount which every Muslim should pay. It is better and
recommended that one pays an extra amount, particularly for those
who are wealthy, for they will be rewarded for it.
it is mentioned earlier, the Hanafis permitted the payment of Zakat-ul-Fitr
in money. This is the view of Al-Thawri, Al-Hasan al-Basri,
and `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz. However, the other three schools did
not permit this. Their argument is that the Prophet did not do so
and hence its payment in money contradicts the Sunnah of the
Prophet. But some contemporary scholars support the Hanafi view
since this is easier nowadays for the payer particularly in cities
where people use only money for dealings. Among them are Sheikh
Shaltut, al-Ghazali, and al-Qaradawi who mentioned earlier the
two reasons for which the Prophet did not prescribe it in money. He
also stated that the purpose of Zakat-ul-Fitr is to fulfil the
needs of the poor and this is achieved also by payment in money and
that in most cases and most countries the payment in money is more
useful to the poor. He also mentioned that when the Prophet
prescribed it from food, it was easy for the payer and useful for
the recipient during that time. But nowadays to pay it in food is
not useful for the poor because he cannot make use, for instance,
of wheat or dates unless he sells them with any price, generally
low, to buy his needs with the money.
excluded the times of famines where the payment of food is more
useful for the recipients and said that the criterion is the
benefit of the poor so if food proves to be more useful as in times
of famines and catastrophes, then its payment in kind is better.
But if money is more useful, then its payment in money is
if we consider the condition in the Muslim world in general and
that of Muslims in the West in particular we will discover that the
second view is more convenient with the spirit of Islamic
legislation and the present condition of Muslims. As we will see
later when Muslims living in the West decide to transfer their
Zakah funds or some of them to needy Muslims in Muslim countries,
then the payment in money is more convenient.
Sabiq, op.cit, vol. III, p. 87.
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Yûsuf al-, Fiqh al-Zakâh, 4th ed., vol. II, Mu’assasat
al-Risâlah, Beirut, 1980, pp. 922.
Hussain H., How to Calculate Zakat ul-Fitr, trans. Abdel-Hamid
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‘Alî b. ‘Amr Abû al-Hasan al-, Sunan al-Darqutnî, ed.
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Qur’ân, ’Âl ‘Imrân [3: 134]
Yûsuf, Al-‘Ibâdah fî al-slâm, 5th ed., Maktabat Wahbah,
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Ibn Qudâmah al-Maqdisî, ‘Abdullâh b. Ahmad, Al-Muqni‘,
vol. 1, Al-Maktabah al-Salafiyyah, n.d., p. 336.
Sabiq, op.cit, vol. III, p. 89.
Shahatah, How to Calculate Zakat ul-Fitr, p.17.
 Sabiq, op.cit, vol. III, p. 89.
 Shahâtah, Hussayn H., Fiqh wa Hisâb Zakât al-Fitr, Cairo 1998, pp. 21-22.
Ibidem, pp. 20-21.
Sabiq, op.cit, vol. III, p. 89.
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Shahâtah, Fiqh wa Hisâb Zakât al-Fitr, pp. 11-12.
Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, A‘lâm Al-Muwaqqi‘în ‘an Rabb Al-‘Âlamîn,
vol. III, Dar al-Kutub al-Hadîthah, Cairo, 1969, pp. 15-16.
Qaradâwî, Fiqh al-Zakâh, pp. 932-33.
Ibidem, pp. 937-40.
Qaradâwî, Fatâwâ Mu‘âsirah, vol. I, 8th ed., Dâr al-Qalam, Kuwait, 1420/2000, p. 336.
Shahâtah, Fiqh wa Hisâb Zakât al-Fitr, pp. 16-17.
Qaradâwî, Fiqh al-Zakâh, p. 942.
Shahâtah, Fiqh wa Hisâb Zakât al-Fitr, p. 15.
Qaradâwî, Fiqh al-Zakâh, pp. 948-49.
Qaradâwî, Fiqh al-Zakâh, pp. 950-51.