Zakat in Islam
Zakat means purification physical, spiritual and of one’s wealth. Therefore, Zakat is both external and internal purification as well as maintaining and economic balance between the fortunate and the less fortunate.
There are several types of Zakat such as Zakat ul-Mal and Zakat ul-Fitra.
“Fitr” is derived from the same root as “Iftar’ at the end of fast. Through fasting one purifies himself, physically by controlling his senses and basic instincts, and spiritually. But, just as the pangs of hunger and thirst create awareness of the plight of the less fortunate fellow human being, these feelings must be translated into action to alleviate their plight. Islam enjoins giving alms on that day on that every brethren in faith can rejoice and thus enhance the ideals of a just society that minds the plight of its less fortunate members.
When to Pay Zakatul Fitra?
It becomes obligatory at the time of sunset on the last day of the Month of Ramadhan, but it is payable between sunset and the start of the Eid prayers. In case one does not wish to offer Eid Prayers, he can postpone giving Fitra till midday.
Furthermore, one can set apart a portion of his property with the intention of Fitra, and does not take it out by midday of Eid day for a reasonable reason, such as finding a needy or transferring the money, then he/she should make intention of Fitra when giving it. However, if one fails to set apart or pay the Fitra in due time, he/she must pay it with general intention of seeking closeness to Allah.
It is about three kilos of wheat or barley or fates, raisins, rice or millet, etc… It is also permissible to pay the cash value of such items. It is an obligatory precaution to give Fitra from that which is the staple in his place.
This would amount to a minimum of at least $8.00 per person. One could also have an option of paying the cost of dates of raisins, which in New York is about $15.00 per person.
Who Should Pay it?
It is obligatory on the person who fulfills certain requirements to pay Zakat ulFitra. Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) said: “One who fasts and intentionally does not pay Zakat ulFitra is like one who has not fasted.”
If, at time of sunset on the eve of Eid ulFitr, a person is an adult and sane, he should pay Zakat ulFitra for himself as well as his dependents.
It does not matter if the dependents are young or old, Muslims or non-Muslims, or whether they are in his own town or in some other town. It is also obligatory for a person to pay the Fitra of a guests who comes to his house before sunset or during the night and stay over on the eve of Eid ulFitr.
Who to Pay?
If you wish, you may give your Fitra to the needy people yourself. Please note that a poor sayyid cannot take Fitra from a non-sayyid. However, if for any reason you do not have access to a real needy person, you may send it in the form of a check, money order or pay online to “Imam Al-Khoei Foundation.”
For the last few years we have been dispatching these funds to real needy people. We make sure that it reaches poor people, be it here in the U.S. or any other place in the world. If you are coming to perform Eid prayers in the Center, you may bring the Fitra with you to pay it before prayers