Zakat Al Fitr, which is also known as Fitrana, is an obligatory portion of food items which are to be given as charity before Eid prayer or during the last two days of the Holy Month of Ramadan. This annual donation of food is totally separate from the annual Zakat or monetary charity which is given by all Muslims, as it is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Additionally unlike the Zakat payment which is calculated according to the personal wealth and income of each and every Muslim separately, the payment of Zakat Al Fitr is made equally by all Muslims.
Amount of Zakat al Fitr or Fitrana?
In accordance to the ways of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), each Muslim should give charity which is equal to the amount of one sa’a of grain. A sa’a is an uncommon unit of measurement as it is an ancient measure. Many religious scholars and leaders have expressed different modern interpretations to how much one Sa’a actually is. The most common belief is that 3 kilograms or 6.5 pounds is equal to one sa’a.
Every individual Muslim has to give away this amount of food, whether it is a man, woman, child or adult, healthy or sick, young or old. The senior head of the household is essentially responsible to pay the amount on behalf of his family and dependents. Generally it is recommended that the payment of Zakat Al Fitr be made in the form of food supplies and not in the form of cash. The essential purpose of this additional charity is that every family of the community has food to eat during the last few nights of Ramadan as well as the Eid Holidays. However, some ulemas believe that it is completely fine if you give Zakat al Fitr in form of cash equivalent to the amount discussed above.
For our readers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who are not sure what their current Zakat Al Fitr is, it is recommended that the maximum possible price of a kilogram of wheat i.e. SAR 7 be used as measure, and a sum of SAR 20 be paid by each Muslim. Some scholars even advise that donations of cash are also permissible, especially in those areas where food items are readily available, but still they prefer the payment through food products. If you are 5 family members, you should pay SR 100 before performing Eid Prayers.
When to pay Zakat al Fitr?
Since the Zakat Al Fitr is a donation which is linked to the holy month of Ramadan, one must make this particular food donation in the last 02 days or even hours prior to the Eid Prayer. It is better if it is paid after sighting the moon of Shawwal and before Eid prayer. The Zakat Al Fitr is meant for those families of the Muslim community who do not have enough means to feed themselves and their family members and dependents. Traditionally it is given to individuals directly, however in some places the local mosque collects the food and then distributes it themselves. It is recommended that his food donation be given your own local community.
Some Mosques and other charitable Islamic organizations around the world, accept Zakat Al Fitr in the form of cash payment, which it then uses to purchase food items and distribute amongst the needy of the society.
Ramadan in Saudi Arabia