Praise be to Allaah.
It was proven from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) that he enjoined zakaat al-fitr on the
Muslims, one saa’ of dates or one saa’ of barley, and he commanded that it
be given before the people went out to the (Eid) prayer. In al-Saheehayn
it is narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him)
said: At the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him) we used to give one saa’ of food, or one saa’ of dates, or one saa’ of
barley, or one saa’ of raisins.
Some of the scholars
have interpreted “food” (ta’aam) in this hadeeth as referring to wheat;
others interpreted it as meaning the staple food of the country, whatever it
is, whether it is wheat, corn, pearl millet or whatever. This is the correct
view, because zakaah is a help from the rich to the poor, and the Muslim
does not have to help with anything other than the staple food of his
country. Undoubtedly rice is the staple food in the land of the Two Holy
Sanctuaries (Saudi Arabia) and it is a good and valuable food; it is better
than the barley that is mentioned in the text. Hence it is known that there
is nothing wrong with giving rice as zakaat al-fitr.
What must be given is a saa’ of any kind of staple food,
i.e., a saa’ of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him), which is four complete scoops as scooped up with two hands, according
to al-Qaamoos etc. In modern weights this is equivalent to
approximately three kilograms. If a Muslim gives a kilo of rice or some
other staple food of his country, that is sufficient even if it is not one
of the types mentioned in the hadeeth, according to the more correct of the
two scholarly opinions. There is nothing wrong with giving the equivalent
amount by weight, which is approximately three kilograms.
Zakaat al-fitr must be given on behalf of all Muslims, young
and old, male and female, free and slave. With regard to a foetus, it is not
obligatory to give it on his behalf according to scholarly consensus, but it
is mustahabb, because ‘Uthmaan (may Allaah be pleased with him) did that.
It is also obligatory to give it before the Eid prayer, and
it is not permissible to delay it until after the Eid prayer. There is
nothing wrong with giving it one or two days before the Eid. Hence it is
known that the earliest time when it may be given, according to the more
correct of the two scholarly views, is the night of the 28th of
Ramadaan, because the month may be twenty-nine or thirty days. The
companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) used to give it one or two days before Eid.
Those to whom it must be given are the poor and needy. It was
proven that Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger
of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) enjoined zakaat
al-fitr as a purification for the fasting person from idle and obscene
speech, and to feed the poor. Whoever gives it before the prayer, it is
zakaat al-fitr, and whoever gives it after the prayer, it is ordinary
charity. This was narrated by Abu Dawood and classed as hasan by al-Albaani
in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
It is not permissible to
pay the value in money, according to the majority of scholars; this view has
the stronger evidence. Rather it must be given in the form of food, as the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his companions
(may Allaah be pleased with them) did. This is also the view of the majority
of the ummah. We ask Allaah to help us and all the Muslims to understand His
religion properly and adhere to it steadfastly, and to guide us, for He is
the Most Generous, Most Kind.
Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz,
This is the estimation
of Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him), who reckoned the weight
of zakaat al-fitr as being approximately three kilograms.
This was also the estimate of the scholars of the Standing
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) estimated
it in grams as being 2100 grams, as it says in Fataawa al-Zakaah, p.
This discrepancy occurred because a saa’ is a measure of
volume, not weight.
The scholars worked it out by weight so that it would be
easier to work out. It is well known that the weight of grains varies; some
are light and some are heavy, and some are in between. In fact the weight of
a saa’ of the same kind of grain may vary, and new may weigh more than old.
Hence if people err on the side of caution and give more, that will be
See al-Mughni, 4/168, where it mentions something
similar about working out the nisaab of crops by weight.
And Allaah knows best.