Synopsis: This article seeks to discuss, in moderate detail, the fiqh ruling on giving zakāt al-fiṭr in the form of money instead of staple food item. In this author's opinion, although it is best to give zakāt al-fītr in staple food, there is no unequivocal evidence to suggest that giving it in the form of money makes it invalid. Therefore, taking into account the situation of most Muslim communities in the Western world, there is no problem giving zakāt al-fītr in the form of money, even though it would be meritorious to follow the letter of the law and give it in the form of staple food items if possible.

Zakāt al-Fiṭr: The Basics

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.

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).

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.

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 Prophet ṣalla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam instructed that a ṣāʿ of wheat, or barley, or dates, or raisins, or curled milk be given (Narrated by al-Bukharī and others). There is a lengthy debate in the books of fiqh regarding whether other food items may take the place of these ones, however it seems very clear– and Allah knows best – that all staple food items may be given as zakāt al-fiṭr. The purpose of mentioning these specific items was that these were the staple foods of the people of Madinah; hence for other communities, rice or other foods, such as macaroni, may be substituted, and this would constitute following the Sunnah. This is the opinion of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah as well. (A ṣāʿ is equivalent to 2.75 kilograms, roughly 6 pounds).

The real issue of debate in our times is whether this zakāt may be given in currency (i.e., cash) instead of staple food. And that is the question that this article seeks to answer.

Classical Opinions on Giving Zakāt al-Fiṭr in Currency

The scholars of the tabiʿūn differed regarding the permissibility of giving zakāt al-fiṭr in gold or silver coins instead of food. Al-Hasan al-Basrī, Sufyān al-Thawrī, and Abū Ishāq al-Sabīʿī allowed it, whereas Aṭāʿ disapproved. The famous Umayyad Caliph, ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-Azīz, even issued a decree that half a silver coin should be deducted from all those who get a stipend from the government, in lieu of zakāt al-fiṭr. Hence, this shows that not only did he approve of giving this zakāt in cash, he actually enforced it in his caliphate. (For these reports, see the Muṣannaf of Ibn Abī Shaybah, 'The Chapter of Giving Dirhams as Zakāt al-Fiṭr.' v. 2, p. 398-399,)

Amongst the four classical madhhabs, the Ḥanbalīs, Shafiʿīs and Mālikīs prohibited giving zakāt al-fitr in cash. (As with most opinions, there are minority opinions within these madhhabs deeming it permissible; both the Mālikīs and Ḥanbalīs have positions that allow it, and there is even a saying in the Shafiʿī madhhab as well, but the relied upon ruling in these three madhhabs is that it is not allowed – for references, see al-Mardāwi's Inṣāf v. 7, p. 130; al-Nawawī's al-Majmūʿ, v. 5, p. 428; al-Dasūqī's Ḥashiyah v. 1, p. 502).

Only the Ḥanafīs deemed it permissible (see al-Sarakhsī's al-Mabṣūṭ v. 2, p. 156).

The primary evidence used by the majority is the famous ḥadīth of Ibn ʿUmar quoted above, in which specific food items are mentioned. These scholars claimed, “The fact that the Prophet ṣalla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam specifically mentioned these food items shows that it is impermissible to substitute others for it.” This is the crux of their argument.

However, in response, it can be said: The reason why the Prophet ṣalla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam mentioned these items is simply due to the fact that these were the staple food items of Madinah. Hence, the majority of scholars – including those who did not allow giving zakāt al-fiṭr in cash – allowed giving other food items instead of these ones, such as rice. There is no explicit evidence prohibiting giving this zakāt in money; the opinion rests primarily on taking the standard practice of the Prophet ṣalla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam as being exclusively representative of the zakāt, and ruling out all other possibilities.

Those who allowed giving cash (i.e., the Ḥanafīs) have some evidences for their opinion.

Firstly, they use the report of Muʿadh b. Jabal when he was the governor of Yemen. It states that Muʿadh told the people of Yemen to give him clothes and robes in lieu of grain, since giving cloth would be easier for them, and more useful for the people of Madinah, where the zakāt was heading (reported in muʿallaq form in al-Bukhārī). This is a very crucial and important piece of evidence. It shows that Muʿadh did not take their zakāt in the way it normally would have been taken (e.g., sheeps, goats, grain, silver, gold), but rather took its equivalent in another commodity. He did this for two reasons. Firstly, since cloth was more readily available in Yemen, hence easier for them to give, than gold and silver. Secondly, since Yemeni cloth was a prized commodity, especially in Madinah, and it would have been appreciated much more than, say, Yemeni dates, grain or sheep. Hence, giving zakāt in cloth proved easier for the Yemenites, and more beneficial for the recipients. And this is a fatwa from no less an authority than Muʿādh b. Jabal, whom the Prophet described as being the most knowledgeable of ḥalāl and ḥarām.

For our situation, this report can be extrapolated to claim that cash and currency is easier for us to give, and more appreciated by its recipients.

A second evidence is that the purpose of zakāt al-fiṭr, as expressly mentioned by the Prophet ṣalla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam, is to ensure that no one is deprived on the day of Eid. Therefore, if one lives in a society where 'deprivation' is not of staple food items but of other necessities, it would make more sense to give zakāt to fulfill those needs.

Thirdly, they state that money is the primary commodity used to barter with, hence it is the aṣl, or 'general rule', with regards to zakāt.

This opinion (that zakāt al-fiṭr may be given in currency) is the opinion of many respected scholars and researchers of our times, including Sh. Qardawī.

Personal Anecdotes and Practical Issues

Once upon a time, I followed the opinion that it was obligatory to pay zakāt al-fiṭr in grain. As with most opinions I followed fifteen years ago, it was based purely on taqlīd – even though at the time I was sure that it was ittibāʿ of the Sunnah. We were in Houston, TX, and a group of us, making taqlīd of our Shaykh, decided to collect rice and distribute it to some families. To make a long story short, it was not easy finding people who were interested in taking thirty pounds of rice; eventually, we did find a few refugee families, but after much calling and searching. Even back then, I realized the futility of trying to implement such a program on a city level. Had we been responsible for the zakāt al-fiṭr of the entire community, we would have had to figure out how to distribute tons of rice (Houston easily has thirty thousand Muslims giving zakāt al-fiṭr, if not more)

After moving to Madinah, I would buy grain and physically find a poor person to give it to. I did this for all the years that I was there. Poverty in Madinah is more pronounced and apparent than America, yet even then I had some interesting experiences. Once, I approached a beggar who was sitting in front of the masjid al-Nabi, and offered him a bag of grain. He just gave me one of those 'looks', handed the bag back to me, and said, “I don't want it.” Imagine that… refused by a beggar! On another occasion, I gave it to a young girl who was begging on the side of the road. She eagerly grasped it and put it next to her. On my way back home, I saw her sitting at the same spot, still begging, but without any grain. As I wondered what happened to the bag of grain, another person walked by and handed her a bag. As soon as the generous 'Samaritan' had walked away, she ran to a stall nearby where the bags of grain were being sold, and then sold it back to the original owner for less than its buying price. She then returned to her place, waiting for more generous people, eager to give their 'zakāt al-fiṭr' to her. After some questioning and research, I found out there was a nice little racket going on between the stalls and the beggars: bag sold to customer for ten riyals, given to beggar, who promptly sells it back for eight riyals cash. Net result: beggar gets eight riyals, stall keeper gets two, and the grain remains with him.

The question arises: how many dozens of pounds of rice would a poor person really want or need to collect? Wouldn't it be more beneficial for her to simply be given the money so that she can use it on more important needs? This is especially the case in Western lands, where the quantity of extremely poor Muslim families – those who are so desperately poor that they need to be given staple food items – is typically far, far less than the quantity of those who are paying zakāt al-fiṭr.

Conclusion

Zakāt al-fiṭr was given in staple food items during the life of the Prophet ṣalla Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam because there were many families who were in dire need of it. Such food items were more accessible to the Muslims than gold and silver, and poverty was so pronounced that it was more needed by the poor than gold and silver.

There is no unequivocal textual evidence that implies that it is a requirement for the zakāt to be accepted that it only be given in staple food items. Rather, what is required is that such staple items or their equivalent be given, depending on the need, situation and circumstance of each community. And one of the equivalents is money.

There are quite a few opinions from the early scholars allowing such a substitution, and in fact it became official policy during the Caliphate of the noble ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-Azīz, the 'fifth Rightly Guided Caliph'. Hence, one of the madhhabs adopted this position as well.

Taking into account the goals of the Sharīʾah and applying them to the situation of Western Muslims, there seems no reason to oblige Muslims to give zakāt al-fiṭr in staple food items. For us, money is more easily available than grain, and it is also more needed by the poor. Additionally, trying to apply the majority opinion at a community level is very impractical, if not outright impossible.

Having said that, there is no doubt that if an individual person is able to do give zakāt al-fiṭr in staple food, and finds worthy recipients, he or she has followed the letter and spirit of the law. But if someone gives money instead, the obligation of zakāt al-fiṭr has been fulfilled.

And Allah knows best.

32 Responses

  1. aarij

    Shaikh Yasir, a question about Zakat (and Zakat-ul-Fitr since its recipients are the same):

    “As-Sadaqât (here it means Zakât) are only for the Fuqarâ’ (poor), and Al-Masâkin (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and for to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islâm); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; ….” [Tawbah:60]

    The category of “those in debt”, does this apply to students who have riba loans on their heads and people who are stuck in mortgages? Because this is the biggest problem – in my humble opinion – of the Muslim community here in Canada.

    If it does, then subhan Allah, what better Eid gift for students than to receive money from zakat so that they can graduate debt free! It’s like a dream come true for so many.

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  2. Abu Bakr

    Would it be safe to say that this beneficial opinion can be regarded as one of the blessings of the madhhab of Imam Abu Hanifah, rahimahulllah?

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  3. inexplicabletimelessness

    Jazak Allahu khairan. Very nice summary of this topic mashaAllah.

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  4. hijabhaven

    Assalamu’Alaykum,
    that was a good article. I did not know that Shafi’e teaching discouraged monetary payments as zakatul fitr. In Malaysia where Muslims predominantly follow Imam Shafi’e’s teaching, the collection of zakatul fitr is done in cash.
    I guess it is more for convenience sake and since it is organised by zakat collection bodies, distribution is also easier when money is collected.
    Thanks for the information. Very beneficial.

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  5. AbdulHasib

    As-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatAllah shaykhana,

    If the zakat al-fitr is collected through money and then distributed to the community by means of those food items (as one shaykh mentioned, that which suits the types of food in that locality – for example giving bags of dates may not be suitable in north america, etc.), wouldn’t that be combining the two opinions in either case?

    Since there can be a collection of funds from the people for the zakat (let’s say $8 per head in the household) before ‘Eid, and then distributed as per the needs of the poor people in that locality.

    (since the Objective of Zakat al-fitr being due on ‘Eid, is to make sure the poor have food on the day of eating, drinking, and rejoicing as the rest of the muslims).

    WAllahu ‘Alam

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  6. Sis Shaykha

    Asalaamu Alaaikum Sheikh,

    Thank you, that was indeed a very beneficial read/article.

    Which would you say is more deserving though: those who are in your locality who are poor but getting by, and those in other countries who are literally starving (like orphans and widows and such). I’m thinking the latter, and this is what my family will insha’Allah do. But if the money gets there let’s say later than Eid, will it still count? Our imam said no, it won’t count?! Well wouldn’t it take more than a couple of days to deliver money across seas. Does your intention play a part in this, like let’s say you do have the intention to give it, it’s just that it arrived late. ?

    Also there is a great fitna, perhaps only I see it, but there is suscpicion from Muslims that their zakat money is not going to the “Right” people. How do you warn these people not to do this.

    And even if it were to say go to someone who is not deserving or is wasted, it’s the intention that counts right? That you originally gave it for the sake of Allah. I don’t know, perhaps this fitna only exists with some people, they probably do this out of nationalism and other diseases though. :(

    May Allah make our zakatul fitr a purification for us, ameen

    thanks again for the article

    Ma’Salaama

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  7. Amad

    salam

    If the zakat al-fitr is collected through money and then distributed to the community by means of those food items (as one shaykh mentioned, that which suits the types of food in that locality – for example giving bags of dates may not be suitable in north america, etc.), wouldn’t that be combining the two opinions in either case?

    This is what the majority of people who believe in ZF as being only in food, already do. But it still misses the practical issue at hand.

    For example, let’s say in Houston, 20% of the Muslims give the ZF in cash to the authority, let’s say ISGH (islamic society of greater houston). Assume 100,000 Muslims (which is lower end), so then you are looking at 20,000 x 8 = $160,000. That would buy you TONS and TONS of food, and where would you find all those poor people to distribute to? This is the issue at hand.

    I’ll give you my own example. Last year, I collected money from about 20 or so people, and ended up filling half my van with food. And really struggled to find anyone for it. Eventually I found a mosque in a nearby city with poor Muslims, the Imam of which promised to do the distribution. I hope he did, because his little Masjid was 1/4 full with supplies!

    I do see the practical issue. I would have hoped that as an alternative, some Islamic fund would be set up, which delivered food in a timely manner in poor Muslim countries. So, a party like ISGH could perhaps split up the money — 50% of it going to this fund, 50% to the local Muslims in cash and equivalents. wallahualam.

    Probably much harder than it sounds. And then the question of supporting the locals versus those further from you comes into play.

    So, I’d like to ask another question about preference and being closest to Sunnah: Should you give cash locally, or IF there is a way (like through family for immigrants), have it given in food to poor Muslims abroad?

    P.S. Just a little plug-in for Dar-us-Salam who are collecting payments online and distributing food bought with that money. However, they also recognize and accept what Shaykh Yasir has mentioned here (based on the pamphlet on their site):

    MuslimApple gives the info

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  8. AbdulHasib

    The reason I ask, was that shaykh Yasir hafidahullah mentioned that some cases they may have no need for the certain staple food items.

    What some communities do is look for and announce for collecting the money for zakat al-fitr for those needy families withIN the community. After having collected, they either give the money for the family to spend on the food items themselves, or more likely, the brothers go and buy the food as NEEDED for the number of needy families (and they are tabulated in advance, meaning we already know how many families, what they need, etc.).

    After having spent the money, the rest of the money is SENT to places of dire need where the money can be used to fully feed needy muslims with those staple food items in other countries or states, etc. Meaning there are places where our brothers and sisters genuinely can use the food items as opposed to other places where the need isn’t as dire.

    This is what i meant as practicality as well as addressing the objectivity of zakat al-fitr.

    So not like splitting the funds. Rather using all of the funds for the needs of the community, and whatever is leftover sent to where they can benefit.

    I’m sure it’s simple for us to have BY ‘Eid the number of needy families in houston area for example. One can have a committe where people can nominate or they track down the families, this can be done year round.

    wAllahu ‘Alam

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  9. AbdulHasib

    By the way, worse comes to worse, you can feed people in madinah through this AMAZING service i love.
    You can feed the fasting also in the Prophet’s Masjid ( not just in ramadan ).

    http://www.ummahservices.com

    Can also be useful for those who need to feed the hungry and needy, etc. Awesome service masha’aAllah.

    (Still good to feed those in your locality, but just in case you wanted to feed the fasting, or the needy in madinah, in other than ramadan. masha’aAllah)

    WAllahu ‘Alam

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  10. Nasir

    I thinks its because the modern lifestyle has changed so much from the time of the Rasool saw.

    From the prophet’s (saw) time up until the 1800′s wheat, grains, and barley were used to make bread, people would slaughter their own animals.

    And now since people have come to rely so much on processed foods they no longer know how to slaughter an animal or bake bread (unless its pillsbury doughboy)

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  11. Nasir

    If muslims in the west aren’t in need of food, should Zakat Al-Fitr be sent to muslims (literally starving) in other countries?

    And the purpose for Zakat VS Zakat Al-Fitr?

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  12. LivingHalal

    I enjoyed reading the comments from readers, ma-sha-Allah, many creative solutions.

    Well, let’s think about it from a different way.

    What’s the real issue at hand? Is it really people in modern societies don’t need food?
    It’s not true, every household still spends money buying groceries.

    So, the issue is not really food vs. money, but rather a management issue.

    In a local community in the US, they’ve been doing this for years. They collect: rice, can food, pasta, cereals, meat, fish, … and distribute them to the community, and everyone is happy, alhamdullilah.

    With all the technology that we have, it should be much easier to manage the distribution, in-sha-Allah, while maintaining the Sunnah.

    Scholars may have allowed cash-substitution under different circumstances, but if we (Muslim Ummah) keep using these Fatwa, by now we won’t have Qurban at Eid Aladha, because the same arguement of cash vs. meat is applied.

    PS1 : One problem with giving cash to Masjids, some masjids keep that money and not distibuting them for ZF purposes and not on time. (My friend heard this from a Masjid board who annouced this in his khutbah, i.e. give us the money we then provide services to the needies).

    PS2: The beggers in Makkah and Madinah are usually part of an “organized” gang. We can’t use them as a representative sample for regular needy persons.

    Wa Allahu a3lam.

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  13. Kamran

    as salamu`alaykum,

    a group of brothers and sisters did food packages made by Costco over here. I think that’s also a pretty good solution. Apologize if it has already been suggested before.

    wallahu `alam
    wassalam
    Kamran

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  14. Ibrahim

    very nice post, jazakAllahu khiaran. as this is the raji’ opinion of the Hanbali madhab, doesn’t the govt. of SA have a system to collect the grain and such and then distribute it to the needy? What are the scholars’ opinion on the implementation of this in SA. In places like Pakistan, this is a non-issue because cash is usually paid.

    also, who is the “shaykh” shaykh Yasir Qadhi has mentioned? among scholars who don’t follow a madhab, it is only ibn Hazm’s opinion that giving cash is a no-no (as far as I know) and thus could be the opinion of al-Albani too. al-Shawkani (and most ahlul hadith in Pak.) they say it is better to give grain or staple food but money is ok too. Allahu Alam

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  15. Abu Bakr

    Some very interesting points have been made in the comments. In particular, I would be interested in hearing what Sh. Yasir has to say on the matter of “cash” locally vs. food abroad for the neediest of Muslims

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  16. Yasir Qadhi

    @ Aarij: Yes, zakat may be given to someone who has a legitimate, unpaid debt.

    @ Sis Shaykha and Abu Bakr: I think it is a great idea to send fitr to poorer countries; at the same time one should try to benefit one’s locality as well. The hadeeth of Muadh in Yemen states, “…and take zakat from their rich and give it to their poor,” hence generally speaking one should try to give it to the poor in one’s locality. Still, in the situation we live in, many Western Muslims have plenty to give to their less fortunate counterparts in the East.

    There is no national system of collecting fitr in Saudi; however many local organizations do this job.
    Yasir

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  17. MR

    I’ve never heard about giving food. My parents have always been giving cash. I guess it was becuase we are Hanafis. We usualy send cash to poor people in Guyana or donate it to Islamic Relief or some thing like that.

    Imagine if all the Muslims in America united and donated there Zakat-ul-fitr to one cuase at a time. Every Eid-ul-fitr we would solve a problem in this ummah!

    Better yet, if all the Muslims in the America payed 2.5% Zakat every year and united for one cause. Every year we would be breaking news and shattering the negative image of Islam.

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  18. Abu Aaishah

    Abu Ammar, Allah knows I have been using your Fiqh CD to encourage our masjid to donate food items and not cash,and they only just agreed.

    Maybe those old CDs should be taken off the market

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  19. Amad

    asalamalikum
    Abu Aaishah, I don’t think there is anything in this post that discourages you from what you are doing. Its still better to give it in food… the point is that there is the option where available.

    Also, I am sure we have all made decisions in our life based on the information available and what we feel is the best answer. And sometimes later in our lives, we change those decisions in the presence of a new understanding or new information. It is no different then in the case of Abu Ammaar Yasir or any other scholar or student of knowledge.

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  20. Nasir

    Assalamu Alaykum,

    If Zakat Al Firt is intended to make sure muslims have food on Eid, what should we do when even the homeless people in America are obese?

    Should we send money to other places to acheive this purpose? (kind of like when people in an area don’t need zakat to send it to another area?)

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  21. AnonyMouse

    Hmmmmm… I know that at our Islamic centre, my dad set something up whereby our zakaatul Fitr is sent to countries like Somalia…

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  22. LivingHalal

    Nasir,

    assalam alaikum,

    There are a lot of needy Muslims here in the US. I know one family with 9 kids living all in a small apt (1 or 2 rooms).

    Yes, they are not starving, alhamduillah. But, are considered low income families.

    Zakatul Fitr is not just for one day, it’s for Eid and onward.

    I’m interested to know how does other communities distribute the food, like Dar-us-salam menioned above.

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  23. Salman

    Salam,

    So how do masjids and other local organizations decide how much money would be appropriate for each head to give in the family?
    ($8, $10, $12?)

    Jazakallah kher.

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  24. AnonyMouse

    @ Salman

    Wa ‘alaikumus-salaam,

    At my old Islamic centre and my current Masjid, the cost for a certain amount of a stable food (e.g. the equivalent to a saa’ of barley) is determined, and that’s the amount announced as being the year’s zakaatul fitr. The amount often varies depending on what food item(s) are being purchased, and where the money is going.

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  25. evidence

    One important fatwa, that i’m surprised Shaykh Yasir missed.

    Ibn Taymiyah, one of the renowned scholars of the early ninth century of Hijrah, argued that the payment of zakat-ul-fitr in cash in metropolitan areas such as Damascus where he lived, is actually better for the poor.”

    This quote is from ‘Can Zakat-ul-Fitr Be Paid in Cash? ‘ from islamonline.net

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  26. abdessamad dahmani

    if zf can be cash so why our prophet focuse on food and the regulare zakat from pilar of islam should be giviing money ?? the propuse of zakat is to spend it as food to poor people , to clean your fast , the poor can buy smook or haram things by that money , or if you feel they need money so give them money as charity and then give food for your zakat to be clean, the majority of scholars are agree to be given as food because we have nas , hadith evidence and there is a qaida fikhiya says that la ijtihad ma’ha annas ”, and the imam Al-Shaafa’i rahimahou allah said: “If the hadeeth is saheeh, then ignore my words. If you see well established evidence, then this is my view.
    this is what the imam of the 4 madahib says : Abu Haneefah said: “This is my opinion, but if there comes someone whose opinion is better than mine, then accept that.” Maalik said: “I am only human, I may be right or I may be wrong, so measure my words by the Qur’aan and Sunnah.” Al-Shaafa’i said: “If the hadeeth is saheeh, then ignore my words. If you see well established evidence, then this is my view.” Imam Ahmad said: “Do not follow me blindly, and do not follow Maalik or al-Shaafa’i or al-Thawri blindly. Learn as we have learned.” And he said, “Do not follow men blindly with regard to your religion, for they can never be safe from error.”
    as you see the majoroty of madahib says that it’s should be given as food because we have evidence hadith where there is no ijtihad after it
    and there is no one is mahson in schollars they can be wrong in ijtihad sometimes but they wil have the reward because they want help our umma plus they are in give fatwa beacuse of their hight level as scholars, the proof is and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) says : “If a judge passes a ruling to the best of his ability and knowledge and gets it right, he will have two rewards. If he passes a ruling to the best of his ability and knowledge but gets it wrong, he will have one reward.” (al-Bukhaari, 7352; Muslim, 1716).
    and Allah knowns best

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