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|Zakatul Fitr When & Where to be Paid
Can Zakatul Fitr be paid from the start of Ramadan and could it be paid to charity organization that carry relief work abroad such as the flood victims of Pakistan?
Praise be to Allaah.
It was proven from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that he enjoined zakaat al-fitr on the Muslims, one saa’ of dates or one saa’ of barley, and he commanded that it be given before the people went out to the (Eid) prayer. In al-Saheehayn it is narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: At the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) we used to give one saa’ of food, or one saa’ of dates, or one saa’ of barley, or one saa’ of raisins.
Some of the scholars have interpreted “food” (ta’aam) in this hadeeth as referring to wheat; others interpreted it as meaning the staple food of the country, whatever it is, whether it is wheat, corn, pearl millet or whatever. This is the correct view, because zakaah is a help from the rich to the poor, and the Muslim does not have to help with anything other than the staple food of his country. Undoubtedly rice is the staple food in the land of the Two Holy Sanctuaries (Saudi Arabia) and it is a good and valuable food; it is better than the barley that is mentioned in the text. Hence it is known that there is nothing wrong with giving rice as zakaat al-fitr.
What must be given is a saa’ of any kind of staple food, i.e., a saa’ of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), which is four complete scoops as scooped up with two hands, according to al-Qaamoos etc. In modern weights this is equivalent to approximately three kilograms. If a Muslim gives a kilo of rice or some other staple food of his country, that is sufficient even if it is not one of the types mentioned in the hadeeth, according to the more correct of the two scholarly opinions. There is nothing wrong with giving the equivalent amount by weight, which is approximately three kilograms.
Zakaat al-fitr must be given on behalf of all Muslims, young and old, male and female, free and slave. With regard to a foetus, it is not obligatory to give it on his behalf according to scholarly consensus, but it is mustahabb, because ‘Uthmaan (may Allaah be pleased with him) did that.
It is also obligatory to give it before the Eid prayer, and it is not permissible to delay it until after the Eid prayer. There is nothing wrong with giving it one or two days before the Eid. Hence it is known that the earliest time when it may be given, according to the more correct of the two scholarly views, is the night of the 28th of Ramadaan, because the month may be twenty-nine or thirty days. The companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to give it one or two days before Eid.
Those to whom it must be given are the poor and needy. It was proven that Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) enjoined zakaat al-fitr as a purification for the fasting person from idle and obscene speech, and to feed the poor. Whoever gives it before the prayer, it is zakaat al-fitr, and whoever gives it after the prayer, it is ordinary charity. This was narrated by Abu Dawood and classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
If there are no poor people in the area, or those who will take it do not really need it, and it is difficult to find poor and needy people who will eat it, then it is permissible to send it outside the country. It is permissible to give the price (of zakaat al-fitr) at the beginning of the month to a charity organization or an agent who will buy (zakaat al-fitr) and deliver it to deserving people at the time when it should be paid, which is the night before Eid or two days before that.
And Allah knows best.
Question Date: 2010-08-21
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