Monday, September 29, 2008

8 Basic Errors Muslims make when Paying Zakat Al-Fitr

8 Basic Errors Muslims make when Paying Zakat Al-Fitr

By Muhammad Alshareef, compliments of

I feel compelled to put this together because I’ve seen
the following errors being committed even since I was a
young boy. In sha Allah, you can help me spread the word by
sharing this article with your community, friends and

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 (sal Allahu alayhi wa
sallam), 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.
[Sahih Bukhari - Arabic/English, vol. 2, p. 339, no. 579]

To understand Zakat ul-Fitr, here is a good summary of it:

But unfortunately, our community makes some basic errors in
the payment of Zakat Al-Fitr that must be clarified.

Error One: Paying at Eid Salah
Some people go to Eid prayers and drop money into the
donation box thinking that they have paid their Zakat
ul-Fitr. No, Zakat al-Fitr, which is food, must be in the
hands of the needy family BEFORE Eid prayer. If someone
goes to Eid prayer and pays then it is GUARANTEED that the
money will NOT arrive on time. And thus the person paying
is sinful for having missed the payment of Zakat al-Fitr.
May Allah forgive us.

Error Two: Snail mailing the money overseas
Basic principle as before: the Zakat al-Fitr, food, MUST be
in the hands of the needy BEFORE Eid prayer. One cannot mail
the money overseas and have it arrive in the 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 in sha Allah it’s alright.

Error Three: Not paying
Yes, as simple as this error is, it is HARAM to skip the
payment of Zakat Al-Fitr. EVERYONE must pay Zakat Al-Fitr,
every member of the household. So if you have 8 people in
your house, Zakat Al-Fitr must be paid x 8, even if the
youngest member is just a few days old.

Error Four: 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 ones money – and that could be due
any time during the year depending on when it was due.

Error Five: Giving money instead of food
Although some scholars have allowed giving money instead of
food, the spirit of Zakat Al-Fitr is to give food to the
needy of the community, NOT money.

The Companion of the Prophet, Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree, radi
Allahu 'anhu, said, "In the Prophet's time, we used to give
it (Zakatal-Fitr) as a sa` of food, dried dates, barley,
raisins or dried cheese".
[Bukhari - Arabic/English vol. 2, p. 340, no. 582]

Error Six: 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”.

Error Seven: 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.

Error Eight: 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.

These are my eight. You are welcome to share other common
errors on my blog.

In sha Allah, if you have Zakah questions, I encourage you
to seek counsel from your local sources of knowledge.
People you can speak to directly.

With best wishes to see you succeed at the highest level!
- Muhammad Alshareef

AlMaghrib/DiscoverU, 1 Stafford Rd., East, Nepean, ON, K2H 1B9, Canada

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