Signs of The Truth, Zakat al-Fitr, To Possess Is To Share
Issue 648 » August 26, 2011 - Ramadan 26, 1432
Signs of The Truth
Al Zumar (The Companies) - Chapter 39: Verse 63
God has two different sets of laws: those that govern the universe, including the aspects of human life independent of humankind (which are God's signs of the truth, and which we wrongly call the "laws of nature" - these are the subject matter of the natural sciences); and the other being the Religion. Both require obedience. Results for the latter usually are deferred to the Hereafter, while the returns of obedience or disobedience to the former usually come in this life.
For example, the reward for patience is success, while the punishment for indolence is privation. Industry brings wealth, and steadfastness brings victory. So being a sincere believing Muslim requires obedience to both of these laws. When Muslims, in addition to their failings in the religious life, neglect to fulfill the requirements of obedience to God's laws of life and the universe (God's signs of truth), they become losers in the world relatively to those unbelievers who have obeyed them. However, those who reject God's Revelations (which are also God's signs of the truth) will be eternal losers, as they will lose in the Hereafter.
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, pp. 958
It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Remember! Zakat al-Fitr is Wajib (strongly recommended, just short of obligatory) on every Muslim, man or woman, free or in servitude, adult or child." (Tirmidhi)
Literal meaning of Zakat (or Zakah) is the process of purification. Fitr is from the word Fitrah and its literal meaning is (one’s) nature or natural state. Hence the meaning of Zakat al-Fitr is to purify one’s nature.
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet made the Zakat al-Fitr obligatory for the purpose of: purifying our fasting from vain talk and shameful mistakes, to make arrangements for the poor and the needy for food and clothing (for the festival of Eid). (Abu Dawud, Ibn Maja)
Every adult Muslim, with sufficient food for the family for a day, should pay Zakat al-Fitr for himself/herself and all his/her dependents. Even those who did not fast should pay it. Zakat al-Fitr should also be paid for the child born or the person died before the Fajr (dawn) on the day of Eid.
At the time of the Prophet, payment of Zakat al-Fitr was made in terms of weight of grain. It is one Sa for each person. One Sa approximately equals to 3.15 kg or 6.94 lbs. The Muslim jurists agree that Zakat al-Fitr can also be paid in cash equivalent to the cost of 3.15kg/6.94 lb. of grain including rice, wheat, lentils, corn, and dry cheese.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) has said, "Whoever paid it (Zakat al-Fitr) before Eid Prayer, it is acceptable Zakat before Al'lah. Whoever paid it after Eid Prayer, it is just a charity." The companion of the Prophet used to pay it a few days earlier. (Bukhari)
Zakat al-Fitr should be paid early enough so it will reach the needy and the poor before the Eid day. It will enable them to use it for food and clothes and give them the opportunity to enjoy the happiness of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Zakat al-Fitr should be paid directly to the needy and the poor. However, you can also pay it to an organization, which would distribute it in accordance with the teaching of Islam. Remember! It is still your responsibility. So, make sure before paying that the organization will distribute it according to the teaching of Islam and before Eid Prayer.
"Zakat Al-Fitr is Wajib" - Ali Siddiqui
To Possess Is To Share
It is impossible to make the testimony of faith, pray, fast and go to pilgrimage only, far from men and worrying about no one except oneself. To be with God is tantamount to being with men; to carry faith is tantamount to carrying the responsibility of a continuous social commitment. The teaching that we should extract from zakat is explicit: to possess is tantamount to having to share. It is impossible here, in the name of freedom, to shamelessly increase one's property at the price of exploitation, and social injustices. It is also impossible to forget the interests of the entire society such that one counts only one's interests. Man is certainly free, but he is responsible for this freedom before God as before men. This responsibility is inevitably moral. In the order of this morality, to be free is to protect the freedom of others and their dignities.
The four practical pillars of Islam hold this double individual and collective dimension. It is a difficult balance, but this project is the only one capable of responding to the requirement of the Creator who expects of man to carry alone the responsibility of his community life. On the economic level, this is the only path which allows man to live humanely; his nature cannot do without such exchanges. Islam reminds through the means of all the moral energy of its message, that a human economy without duties is an inhumane economy which organises, produces, and structures injustices, exploitation and famine.
"Islam, the West and the Challenges of Modernity" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 144, 145