Friday Sermon: 8 Basic Errors Muslims Make while giving Zakat-fitr, by Aliyu Shugaba

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—Friday Sermon: 8 Basic Errors Muslims Make while giving Zakat-fitr, by Aliyu Shugaba

Assalamu alaikum
Bismillahi Rahmaani Raheem.
Peace and Salutations of Allah be upon our Noble Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.
YBTC News—Topic on Zakat Fitri.

What is Zakat ul-Fitr ? Think “Iftar”, Zakat ul-Fitr is the charity that we pay at the end of Ramadan. Here is the foundational hadith that establishes the obligation of Zakat ul-Fitr: “Ibn `Umar reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) , made Zakat al-Fitr compulsory on every slave, freeman, male, female, young and old among the Muslims; one Saa` (a measurement: four double handfuls) of dried dates or one Saa` of barely.”

Source: (Sahih Bukhari – Arabic/English, vol. 2, p. 339, no. 579).

Zakāt al-fiṭr is one of two obligatory charities that have been obligated in the Sharīʿah (the other one being regular zakāt). The fact that it is obligatory has been unanimously agreed upon amongst the scholars. It was legislated when the fast of Ramaḍān was legislated, meaning the second year of the hijrah. Hence, zakāt al-fiṭr was actually legislated before regular zakāt.

It is obligatory on all Muslims who have more than the amount of food that they and their immediate families require on the day of Eid. Hence, its
nisāb is considerably less than the
niṣāb of regular zakāt (which is 612 grams of silver or 87.48 grams of gold).

Zakāt al-fiṭr is paid on behalf of every single member of one’s household, even if that member did not fast. Hence, it is paid on behalf of children, the sick and the elderly. If a woman is pregnant during Ramaḍān but does not deliver before Eid, it is encouraged, but not obligatory, to pay zakāt on behalf of the unborn child. If she delivers before Eid, then zakāt must be paid on behalf of the newborn.

Time to give out Zakat-fitr?

The best time to give this zakāt is on the day of Eid, before the actual Eid prayer. However, it may be given before this as well; a day or two before according to the Ḥanbalīs and Mālikīs, from the beginning of the month of Ramaḍān for the Shafiʿīs, and from the beginning of that year for the Ḥanafīs. Another opinion within the Ḥanbalī
madhhab states that it may be given after the fifteenth of the month (based upon the fact that one may leave Muzdalifah after half of the night – i.e.,
qiyās with another act of worship). And this last opinion seems to be a reasonable one (See al-Mardāwī’s
Inṣāf , v. 7 p. 116).

Who to give Zakat-fitr?

The recipients of zakāt al-fiṭr are the same as the recipients of regular zakāt. Hence, one must find a Muslim who is deserving of it. If one is paying zakāt al-fiṭr on behalf of more than one person, the entire amount can be given to a single person, or the zakāt for each person can be given to a different recipient. Like regular zakāt, although it is allowed to distribute it in another locality, it is strongly preferred to distribute it to the needy in one’s own locality.

Benefits of Zakat-fitr?

There are two primary wisdoms behind the zakāt al-fiṭr: firstly to make up for any sins and mistakes that one might have done while fasting, and secondly, to feed the poor. In a sound ḥadīth, Ibn ʿAbbās reported that the Prophet ṣalla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam legislated zakāt al-fiṭr as a means of purification from the vain talk and evil deeds committed by the one who fasted, and as a provision for the poor (Abu Dawud in his Sunan ). It is narrated that Wakīʿ b. al-Jarrāḥ (d. 198 A.H.) said, “Zakāt al-fiṭr is to the month of Ramaḍān as the ‘prostration of forgetfulness’ ( sajdat al-sahw ) is to the prayer,” meaning that it makes up for any deficiencies. In slightly weak tradition, it is added “…so that they (i.e., the poor) have no need to beg on that day.” Hence, one of the goals of zakāt al-fiṭr is to bring joy on the auspicious day of Eid to the entire Muslim community – no one should go hungry on that day.

The Basic Errors?

1: Paying zakat at Eid:
Some people go to Eid and drop money into the donation box thinking they had paid their Zakat ul-Fitr.
No! Zakat ul-Fitr, which is paid in form of food must be in the hands of the needy BEFORE the Eid prayer.

2: Mailing the money overseas
Basic principle as before: the Zakat ul-Fitr, food, MUST be in the hands of the needy BEFORE Eid prayer. One cannot mail the money overseas and have it arrive in hands of the needy after Eid prayer is over. However, if one is able to get the Zakah al-Fitr to the needy overseas BEFORE Eid prayer is conducted in their locality, then insha Allah it’s alright.

3: Not paying
Yes, as simple as this error is, it is HARAM to skip the payment of Zakat ul-Fitr if you are able.

4: Confusing Zakat ul-Fitr with Zakat ul-Maal
We are talking about Zakat al-Fitr here (think “Iftar”, i.e. Ramadan). Zakat Al-Maal (Maal literally means wealth), is the Zakah due on one’s money – and that could be due any time during the year depending on when it was due.

5: Giving money instead of food
Although some scholars have allowed giving money instead of food, the spirit of Zakat ul-Fitr is to give food to the needy of the community, NOT money. The Companion of the Prophet (SAW), Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree (radi Allahu ‘anhu), said: “In the Prophet’s time, we used to give it (Zakatul-Fitr) as food, dried dates, barley, raisins or dried cheese”.

6: Giving one’s Zakah al-Fitr to a charitable building project:
Some people mistakenly give their Zakah Al-Fitr to a charitable building project: like the building of a Masjid, or Islamic school. There is a difference of opinion on this issue, but suffice it to say that the spirit of Zakah Al-Fitr is that the needy should have plentiful food on Eid.
All eight types of recipients of Zakah mentioned in the Quran are HUMANS, not “building projects”.

7: Giving Zakat ul-Fitr to non-Muslims
Charity is given to both Non-Muslims and Muslims: However, Zakah al-Fitr charity is something exclusive to the MUSLIM: poor and needy. Hence, one could not give Zakah Al-Fitr to any needy person on the street. “Regular” charity can be given to them, but not Zakah Al-Fitr.

8: Delaying distribution:
Sometimes Masjids might collect Zakah Al-Fitr money and then put it in a bank. It doesn’t reach the needy for months and months. The correct method is to give Zakah Al-Fitr immediately when it is due.
In Conclusion, Zakatul Fitri is giving out raw food items like rice, wheat, corn, dates , beans etc before the eid but if giving money it should be equivalent as the measurement prescribe by the Prophet and most also be before eid.

Allah knows best.Assalamu alaikum
Bismillahi Rahmaani Raheem.
Peace and Salutations of Allah be upon our Noble Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.

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