What is the rate of zakaat al-fitr? When it should be paid?to whom it should be paid?
Praise be to Allaah.
1) What is the rate of zakaat al-fitr?
It was narrated that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) enjoined zakaat al-fitr upon the Muslims at a rate of one saa’ of dates or one saa' of barley, and he commanded that it should be given before the people went out to pray – i.e., the Eid prayers.
In al-Saheehayn it is narrated that Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) said:
At the time of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) we used to give it at a rate of one saa of food, or one saa of dates, or one saa' of barley, or one saa' of cheese, or one saa' of raisins…
A number of scholars interpreted the word ta'aam (food) in this hadeeth as referring to wheat, and others explained it as referring to the staple food of the local people, no matter what it is, whether it is wheat, corn or something else. This is the correct view, because the zakaah is a kind of help given by the rich to the poor, and the Muslim should not offer help with anything other than the staple food of his country.
What must be given is a saa' of all kinds of food, which is four times the amount scooped up with two hands, which is approximately three kilograms. If the Muslim gives a saa’ of rice or some other staple food of his country, that is fine.
2) When Zakaat al-fitr should be paid?
It first becomes due on the night of the twenty-eighth of Ramadaan, because the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to give it one or two days before Eid, and the month lasts twenty-nine or thirty days.
The latest it may be given is at the Eid prayer, but it is not permissible to delay it until after the prayer, because of the report narrated by Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
Whoever gives it before the prayer, it is accepted zakaah, and whoever gives it after the prayer, it is a kind of charity. (Narrated by Abu Dawood).
3) Can We pay Zakaat al-fitr in cash?
Paying zakaat al-fitr in cash is not acceptable according to the majority of scholars, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) enjoined that it be given in the form of the local staple food, and it is not known that he or any of his Companions gave it in the form of money.
Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo’ (6/113):
It is not acceptable to pay the cash value of zakaat al-fitr in our view. This was also the view of Maalik, Ahmad and Ibn al-Mundhir.
Abu Haneefah said: It is permissible. This was narrated by Ibn al-Mundhir from al-Hasan al-Basri, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez and al-Thawri.
He said: And Ishaaq and Abu Thawr said that it is not acceptable except in case of necessity. End quote.
See: al-Mawsoo'ah al-Fiqhiyyah, 23/343-344.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
With regard to one who knows that it must be in the form of food, but he gives it in the form of cash because it is easier for him, that is not acceptable. But in the example mentioned by the questioner, if we cannot find anyone who will accept food, i.e., there is no one who will accept the rice or dates or wheat, and they will not accept anything but cash, in that case we may give it in the form of cash. So we should work out the cash value of a saa‘ of average quality food and give it to them.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked:
If a person pays zakaat al-fitr in cash, following the opinion of the scholars of his country, then comes to learn the more correct view, what should he do with regard to his charity??
He does not have to do anything. If a person does something on the basis of a fatwa from a scholar or following the scholars of his country, he does not have to do anything. An example of that is if a woman does not pay zakaah on her jewellery and remains for several years not knowing that zakaah is due on jewellery, or on the basis that her scholars have advised her that no zakaah is due on it, then she learns the ruling; she has to pay zakaah after she learns the ruling, but before that she does not have to. End quote.
Liqaa’aat al-Baab al-Maftooh, no. 191, question no. 19
4) To whom should zakaat al-fitr be given?
Zakaat al-fitr should be given to the poor and needy Muslims in the land or city where it is given, because of the report narrated by Abu Dawood from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him), who said:
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) enjoined zakaat al-fitr, to be paid in Ramadaan to feed the poor…
It is permissible to send it to the poor of another land whose people are in greater need. It is not permissible to spend it on building a mosque or other charitable projects.
We ask Allaah to help us and all the Muslims to understand His religion and adhere steadfastly to it. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.