February 26, 2024

Zakat-l-fitri: The purifier of wealth and cleanser of soul

By Hassan Imam

Islam a divine religion which preaches we-feeling, communalism and selflessness. Minding the importance of wealth in man’s life, it teaches its adherents the lawful ways to accumulate it and right ways to spend it. One of those ways is giving alms.

Zakatul fitr is a charity given to the poor before Eid prayer. It is called Zakatul fitr because it is given upon the conclusion of the fast of the month of Ramadan.It is also known as Zakatur-Ruus and Zakatul Fitrah .

It is of great importance to know that, Zakatul fitr is made obligatory upon every Muslim who posseses more than he needs for himself and his family for the day and night of the Eid. About this,Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The messenger of Allah ordained Zakah al-Fitr as Sa’ of dates or a Sa’ of barely, on the slave and free man,male and female and young and elderly Muslims and he ordered it to be disbursed before people go out to the (Eid) prayer.” (Agreed upon).

Aptly, Zakat-l-fitri is expected to be given to one of the eight beneficiaries of Zakah mentioned in (At-Taubah:60) on the day of Eid or before the Eid prayer. It can be advanced before Eid by a day or two,as some companions did. But it is not allowed to delay it until after Eid prayer. On this, Ibn Abbas narrated, “Whosoever disburses it after the prayer, then it is just like any other alms (and not Zakah al-Fitr)” (Abu Dawud).

Pertinently, the quantity of Zakah al-Fitr, according to the description given by the prophet (s.a.w) is a Sa’ and one Sa’ is equivalent to four madd. A madd is the amount that can be scooped up when one puts one’s hands together.
Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “We used to pay on the day of Fitr during the time of the Messenger of Allah a Sa’ of food “he used to pay on the day of Fitri during the time of the Messenger of Allah a Sa’ of food “and he (Abu Sa’eed) said, “And our foods were barely,raisins (cottage) cheese (Aqit :dried curled milk (cottage cheese) used in cooking ) and dates” (Al-Bukhari) .

In the above Hadith,Abu Sa’eed (may Allah be pleased with him) mentioned the kinds of foods being used during their time to pay Zakat-l-fitri and the quantity described by the prophet (s.a.w). Premised on this narration, it is safe to say that,Muslims are expected to give Zakat-l-fitri with the common foods of their respective countries.

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Unarguably, man is bound to sin.Even,it is not an exaggeration to say that,sinning is part and parcel of man. This explains why some Muslims while fasting, in spite their knowledge about the prohibition of idle talks and obscenity, engage in vain actions and utter bad utterances. So,in a view of cleansing anyone who spoke detestable speech which lessens the rewards of good deeds or may jeopardize the fast,the prophet (s.a.w) ordained Zakat-l-fitri. Ibn Abbas said, that “The messenger of Allah (s.a.w)ordained Zakat-l-fitri to be cleansing, for the one who fasted,from idle talks and obscenity (obscene statements) and as food for the needy”( Abu Dawud).

It is of interest to know that,scholars have expressed different opinions on giving monetary value(Qimah) instead of food.All the Islamic schools of thought opine that it is not allowed to give monetary value(Qimah) except Hanafiyyah.

In conclusion, in the foregoing,it has been established that Zakat-l-fitri wipes out sins,purifies wealth and cleanses soul.Let’s all endeavour to pay it.

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