IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE BENEFICENT, THE MERCIFUL.
ALL PRAISE BELONGS TO ALLAH, THE LORD OF THE WORLDS
PEACE AND BLESSINGS BE UPON OUR HOLY PROPHET MUHAMMAD AND HIS PURE PROGENY
FAQ ON ZAKAT AL-FITRAH
(According to Fataawa of Ayatullah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni Seestani) Q. What is Zakatul Fitrah?
A: It is religious tax/alms (zakat) paid on the day when Muslims break the fasting period at the end of the month of Ramadhan. This alms is known as Zakat al-Fitrah.Q. What do the Qur’an and Hadith say about Fitrah?
A: Imams (a) say that the verses: Indeed whosoever purifies himself shall achieve success, and glorifies the Name of his Lord and prays (87:14 & 15) refer to giving of Fitrah and saying prayers on Eid al-Fitr. Imam Ja`far as- Sadiq (a) said: for your fast to be accepted, give zakât.
Q. When does Fitrah become wajib?
A. Payment of Fitrah becomes obligatory after sunset on the eve of Eid al- Fitr. The Fitrah should be kept aside and paid on Eid al-Fitr before Eid prayers or before midday for those who cannot say their Eid prayers. It is necessary to have obligatory intention (niyyah) of giving Fitrah for God’s pleasure only.
Q. What happens if someone forgets or does not give Fitrah on time?
A. If one does not give out or set aside the Fitrah within the due time, he should give the Fitrah later, on the basis of precaution, without making the niyyah of adaa or qadhaa but only Qurbatan Ilallah.
Q. Can we give Fitrah in advance?
A. Giving Fitrah before the eve of Eid al-Fitr is not permissible. However, if you wish to send Fitrah earlier so that it reaches the needy on time, then you can send it as a temporary loan to the needy and then change your intention from loan to Fitrah on the eve of Eid al-Fitr.
Q. To whom is Fitrah obligatory?
A. Paying Fitrah is obligatory on every Muslim who is mature (baligh), sane, financially able, and conscious on the eve of Eid al-Fitr. Fitrah should also be paid on behalf of all dependents (e.g. wife, children) whom one supports financially.
Q. When is a host required to pay Fitrah for his guest?
A. If a person invites another person to his house on the eve of Eid al-Fitr and if the guest is present at the host’s place at the time of the sunset then it is obligatory for the host to pay Fitrah for his guest.
Q. What happens if the guest arrives after the sunset on Eid night?
A. In this case the guest will pay his/her own Fitrah and it is not obligatory on the host to pay Fitrah for the guest.
Q. What happens if a guest comes uninvited and is present at the time of the sunset on the eve of Eid al-Fitr?
A. Ayatullah Sayyid As-Sistani says that the host should still pay the Fitrah as an obligatory precaution. However, Marhum Ayatullah Sayyid al-Khui was of the opinion that is recommended for the host to pay Fitrah of an uninvited guest.
Q. How much should we pay for Fitrah?
A. Fitrah for a person is given on a weight of three kilograms (one sa`a) on any food commodity like wheat, barley, rice, millet, raisins or dates. Ayatullah Seestani is of the opinion that the item that is not a staple food in your town should not be given in Fitrah. Say, for example, if millet is not a staple in Vancouver then Vacouver mumineen should not pay Fitrah on millet.
Q. Can we give cash value of any commodity mentioned above?
A. Yes, cash value in lieu of any foodstuff mentioned can be given as Fitrah. Thus, if a kilo of rice costs $2.00, the cash value of Fitrah on rice per person would be $6.00. We recommend, Fitrah on basmati rice to be Canadian Dollars 7.00 for residents of Canada and US Dollars 6.00 for US residents. (Please check prices for other items in your areas.)
Q. Whom should we give the Fitrah to?
A. It is given to the needy who are unable to meet their own or their dependants annual living expenses, nor do they have the means to do so through earning. Ayatullah As-Seestani says that the needy who is given the fitrah must be a Shi`ah Ithna `Ashari.
Q. Who should not be given the Fitrah?
A. A needy who: consumes alcohol, does not say his daily prayers (salat), commits sins openly, or he who is known to use the Fitrah in sinful way.
Q. Are there any additional rules that we need to be aware of?
A. Following are some important rules: (i) Fitrah should not be sent outside the town one resides in, if there are deserving mumineen in that town. (ii) Fitrah from a non-Sayyid cannot be given to a needy Sayyid; the reverse is permissible. (iii) A needy should be given at least one Fitrah (iv) Amongst the needy, relatives should be preferred over others when giving Fitrah, next in line are neighbors and then the learned.
Reproduced with permission from the Academy for Learning Islam.
The numbered rulings are according to the fatawa of
Ayatullah Al-Udhma Seyyid Ali Al-Husaini Seestani, Dama Dhilluhu
The rulings in brackets are according to the fatawa of
Ayatullah Al-Udhma Seyyid Abulqassim Al-Khui, Ridhwanullahi Alayhi
- Payment of fitrah becomes wajib (obligatory) after sunset on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr on a person who is baligh (attained puberty), aqil (sane), and is neither needy, nor indigent nor unconscious for himself and all his dependants wherever and whoever they are.
- For the purpose of fitrah, dependants include guests who are present at the host’s house at the time of sunset on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr. However, if a guest comes without the consent of the host, his fitrah becomes wajib upon the host on the basis of ehtiyat wajib (obligatory precaution). This ruling also applies to a person who is forcibly made to maintain another person. The fitrah of a guest arriving after sunset even if he was invited earlier is not upon the host, unless he is a dependant of the host. (Ehtiyat Mustahab to pay for uninvited guest or one forcibly maintained.)
- Fitrah should be given from wheat, barley, raisins, rice or millet or its cash value at the rate of one sa’a (about 3 kg.) per head. On the basis of obligatory precaution (ehtiyat wajib), one should not give fitrah from that food which is not staple in his place, even if it be wheat, barley, dates or raisins. (Staple food has not been made a condition).
- Fitrah is given to a needy person who, according to the shari’a is a faqeer, that is, a person who is not able to meet his living expenses for himself and for his dependants for one whole year, nor does he possess the means to earn a livelihood for himself and his dependants. It is ehtiyat wajib that the fitrah is given to a faqeer who is a Shia Ithna-Asheri. (Ehtiyat Mustahab to give to a Shia Ithna-Asheri Faqeer.)
Note: The faqeer to whom fitrah is given need not necessarily be adil, but it is ehtiyat wajib that fitrah should not be given to a person who drinks liquor, or one who does not perform his daily salaat or one who commits sins openly or one who will use the fitrah in a sinful way.
- A non-Seyyid cannot give fitrah to a Seyyid even if he maintains a Seyyid and pays his fitrah.
- It is ehtiyat mustahab (recommended precaution) that a faqeer be given a minimum of one full fitrah. More can be given to one person also. (Ehtiyat Wajib to give a minimum of one full fitrah to a person).
- If a servant is employed on the condition that the employer will pay all his expenses, then the servant’s fitrah becomes wajib upon the employer. But if the condition is the payment of the salary only, then his fitrah is not wajib upon the employer.
- If the price of one type of grain is double that of the other, one cannot give half the measure of the better grain nor its cash value as fitrah.
- It is recommended to give preference to one’s relatives when giving fitrah, then to the neighbors and then ahlul ilm (people of learning). Preference, however, can be given to another category of people if there is a good reason to do so.
- For those who pray Salatul Eid, it is ehtiyat wajib to give the fitrah before the Eid prayers and for those not praying Salatul Eid the time extends up to before Dhuhr. If fitrah is set aside but not distributed by Dhuhr, then whenever it is disbursed, the niyyah (intention) of fitrah should be made. If one does not give out or set aside the fitrah within the due time, he should give the fitrah later, on the basis of precaution, without making the niyyah of adaa or qadhaa but only qurbatan Ilallah.
- An item set aside for fitrah cannot be used or substituted by another item.
- On the basis of ehtiyat wajib, fitrah should not be sent outside the town one resides in if there are deserving people in that town. If one does so and the fitrah gets spoiled or lost then it must be given again.
- Fitrah cannot be given before the month of Ramadhan and it is better not to give it during the month of Ramadhan. However, if a loan was given to a person who deserves to receive fitrah, then when the fitrah becomes due that amount can be set off against the fitrah.