28 April 2022
Zakat al-fitr is obligatory for every Muslim, to be paid on his own behalf and on behalf of those on whose maintenance he is obliged to spend, if he has wealth surplus to his and his dependents’ needs for the day and night of ‘Eid: one sa‘.
For zakat al-fitr to be obligatory, there is no stipulation of a specific minimum threshold of wealth or that one full year should have passed since acquiring it, or any of the other stipulations that are applicable to zakah on one’s wealth.
It also has nothing to do with what a person owns of wealth, property or cars, because he pays zakat al-fitr on his own behalf and on behalf of the people on whom he is obliged to spend.
What is required in the case of zakat al-fitr is to give it in the form of the usual local staple food .
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Baz (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
In as-Sahihayn, Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) said: We used to give it at the time of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), a sa‘ of foodstuff , or a sa‘ of dates, or a sa‘ of barley, or a sa‘ of raisins.
A number of scholars interpreted “foodstuff” in this hadith as referring to wheat; others are of the view that what is meant is the foodstuff of a region, no matter what it is, whether it is wheat, corn, pearl millet, and so on. This is the correct view, because zakah is a means by which the rich help the poor, and the Muslim is not required to help with anything other than the staple food of his country.
This is the view favoured by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him). It was also favoured by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymin and others.
Thus it is clear that zakat al-fitr is to be given in the form of regular food, not cash, and not in the form of any other alternative to cash.
Moreover the one who gives the zakah does not have the right to decide about the way he gives his zakah, whether it is zakat al-fitr or zakah on wealth, and buy something else for the poor instead of giving them their zakah, such as buying meat or clothing and the like for them.
Zakat al-fitr becomes obligatory when the sun sets on the last day of Ramadan, and must be paid before the ‘Eid prayer . It is permissible to pay it two or three days before that, if need be.
Based on that, it is not permissible for you to give it a week or two before ‘Eid , and the like.
But if you are afraid that two or three days before ‘Eid is not enough time for the money transfer to reach your homeland, then you can send it earlier, so as to allow enough time, even if that is before Ramadan , and you may appoint someone trustworthy to buy your zakat al-fitr for you, but he should not give it except at the prescribed time.
And Allah knows best.
Source : Islamqa
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