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8 Basic Errors Muslims Make when Paying Zakat Al-Fitr

First appeared at Muhammad Al-Shareef ‘s blog.

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 family.

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 (peace be upon him) , 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)

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

Error One: Paying at Eid Salah

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Some people go to Eid prayers and drop money into the donation box thinking that they have paid their Zakat ul-Fitr. No, Zakat ul-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 ul-Fitr. May Allah forgive us.

Error Two: Snail mailing the money overseas Basic principle as before

The Zakat ul-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 ul-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 ul-Fitr. EVERYONE must pay Zakat ul-Fitr, every member of the household. So if you have 8 people in your house, Zakat ul-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 ul-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.

zakat-al-fitrError Five: Giving money instead of food

Although some scholars have allowed giving money instead of food, the spirit of Zakat ul-Fitr is to give food to the needy of the community, NOT money. (One can give money to the local masjid in charge and they can give food with that money inshallah). 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 ul-Fitr to a charitable building project

Some people mistakenly give their Zakat ul-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 ul-Fitr is that the needy should have plentiful food on Eid. All eight types of recipients of Zakat 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, Zakat ul-Fitr charity is something exclusive to the MUSLIM poor and needy. Hence, one could not give Zakah ul-Fitr to any needy person on the street. “Regular” charity can be given to them, but not Zakat ul-Fitr.

Error Eight: Delaying distribution

Sometimes Masjids might collect Zakah ul-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 ul-Fitr immediately when it is due.

These are my eight. You are welcome to share other common errors on my blog. www.DiscoverULife. com/Blog. Insha’Allah, if you have Zakat 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!