Monday, 19 October 2015

The Fiqh of Zakat al-Fithr

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following are the rulings of zakat al-fithrZakat al-fithr is a required charity on the occasion of ‘Iyd al-Fithr.  It is related by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) and his father ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) that the Prophet (s.a.w.) obligated zakat al-fithr in Ramadhan a sa’ of dates or a sa’ of barley upon every free person and slave, man or woman, from the Muslims.  This was recorded by Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) and Imam Muslim (r.a.).

The one who must pay zakat al-fithr gives one of the following: half a sa’ of wheat or similar food grains; a full sa’ of dates, barley, raisins or similar food grains; or the equivalent monetary value of either.  It is actually better to pay the monetary value when the goods are widely available.  If they are not widely available, it is better to pay in the form of goods rather than by money.  Half a sa’ is approximately 2 kilogrammes.  A full sa’ is approximately 4 kilogrammes.  This is from Imam ash-Shurunbulali’s (r.a.) Maraqi al-Falah Sharh Nur al-‘Iddah and Imdad al-Fattah Sharh Nur al-‘Iddah and Imam ‘Ala ad-Din ibn ‘Abidin’s (r.a.) al-Hadiyyah al-‘Alayyah.

Zakat al-fithr is wajib upon: any free Muslim, regardless if they are male, female, adult, child, sane, or insane who possesses the minimum niswab in any form of wealth in excess of their immediate needs and debts, on the morning of ‘Iyd al-Fithr arrives, regardless if an entire lunar year has passed upon this wealth or not.  For zakat al-fithr, the minimum niswab is the same as the annual zakat al-mal, which is 612 grammes of silver or 87.48 grammes of gold or their equivalent monetary value.  However, for zakat al-fithr, one calculates the niswab according to any form of wealth one owns beyond one’s basic needs and immediate debts.

Immediate needs refer to one’s normal living expenses for oneself and one’s dependents, such as money for food, shelter, furniture, clothing, transportation, immediate debts, and books for those who use them.  This is from Imam ash-Shurunbulali’s (r.a.) Maraqi al-Falah Sharh Nur al-‘Iddah and Imdad al-Fattah Sharh Nur al-‘Iddah and Imam ‘Ala ad-Din ibn ‘Abidin’s (r.a.) al-Hadiyyah al-‘Alayyah.

The husband is not obliged to pay the wife’s zakat al-fithr.  However, if he voluntarily decides to do so out of his generosity, then it counts on her behalf.  This is from Imam ash-Shurunbulali’s (r.a.) Maraqi al-Falah Sharh Nur al-‘Iddah and Imdad al-Fattah Sharh Nur al-‘Iddah and Imam ‘Ala ad-Din ibn ‘Abidin’s (r.a.) al-Hadiyyah al-‘Alayyah.

If the child does not have the wealth to pay for zakat al-fithr and owes it, the father or legal guardian pays for the child.  If the father or legal guardian does not pay on behalf of the needy child, the child does not owe this amount after reaching adulthood.  If the child has the wealth to pay for it, zakat al-fithr is paid from the child’s wealth.  If the wealthy child does not pay it, the child still owes this amount to the poor after reaching adulthood.  It should be noted that a child is someone who has not reached puberty.  After reaching puberty, each person is responsible for the payment of his zakat al-fithr.  However, if an adult’s legal guardian still pays for his zakat al-fithr, it counts on his behalf.  This is from Imam ash-Shurunbulali’s (r.a.) Maraqi al-Falah Sharh Nur al-‘Iddah and Imdad al-Fattah Sharh Nur al-‘Iddah, Imam ‘Ala ad-Din ibn ‘Abidin’s (r.a.) al-Hadiyyah al-‘Alayyah and Imam Muhammad ibn `Abidin (r.a.) in Radd al-Mukhtar ‘ala ad-Dur al-Mukhtar.

Calculating the niswab of zakat al-fithr differs from calculating it for zakat al-mal.  With the zakat al-mal, one must own the niswab by means of specific forms of wealth such as gold, silver, cash, livestock, or trade goods in excess of one’s basic needs and a lunar year passes upon this wealth.  With zakat al-fithr, the niswab is calculated by means of any form of wealth one has in excess of one’s basic needs and immediate debts, regardless if a lunar year passed upon this wealth or not.  If this excess wealth reaches the niswab on the morning of ‘Iyd al-Fithr, then it is wajib for one to pay zakat al-fithr.  It is quite possible that someone may not have to pay the annual zakat but at the same time be required to pay the zakat al-fithr.  For example, someone who does not have any zakatable items in his possession, like cash or trade goods, does not have to pay zakat.  But this same person owns other assets equal to the value of the niswab and these assets are in excess of his personal needs, such as having a surplus car, surplus televisions, or surplus computers.  In this case, he does not pay the zakat al-mal but he does pay zakat al-fithr.  This is from Imam ash-Shurunbulali’s (r.a.) Maraqi al-Falah Sharh Nur al-‘Iddah and Imdad al-Fattah Sharh Nur al-‘Iddah and Imam ‘Ala ad-Din ibn ‘Abidin’s (r.a.) al-Hadiyyah al-‘Alayyah.

It becomes wajib to pay zakat al-fithr when fajr enters on ‘Iyd al-Fithr, the 1st of Shawwal.  It is recommended to pay zakat al-fithr after fajr enters before heading to the ‘iyd prayer area.  It is valid to pay zakat al-fithr before fajr enters on ‘Iyd al-Fithr or after it.  This is from Imam ash-Shurunbulali’s (r.a.) Maraqi al-Falah Sharh Nur al-‘Iddah and Imdad al-Fattah Sharh Nur al-‘Iddah and Imam ‘Ala ad-Din ibn ‘Abidin’s (r.a.) al-Hadiyyah al-‘Alayyah.

If one has never paid zakat al-fithr in the past and was required to pay it, one still owes this amount to the poor.  The time for paying the zakat al-fithr is not limited to the day of ‘Iyd al-Fithr itself; rather the time for payment is unconditioned.  Thus, the obligation to pay is not lifted if delayed, although delaying is disliked.  This is from Imam ash-Shurunbulali’s (r.a.) Maraqi al-Falah Sharh Nur al-‘Iddah and Imdad al-Fattah Sharh Nur al-‘Idah, Imam ‘Ala ad-Din ibn ‘Abidin’s (r.a.) al-Hadiyyah al-‘Alayyah, Imam Muhammad ibn `Abidin (r.a.) in Radd al-Mukhtar ‘ala ad-Dur al-Mukhtar and Imam 'Abd al-Ghani al-Maydani’s (r.a.) al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab.

If one’s wealth diminishes after it became obligatory for one to pay zakat al-fithr, the obligation to pay is not lifted.  This differs from the rulings on zakat al-mal.  This is from Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Haswkafi’s (r.a.) Hashiyyat at-Tahtawi and Imam ‘Ala ad-Din ibn ‘Abidin’s (r.a.) al-Hadiyyah al-‘Alayyah.


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