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Eid al-Fitr, its Prayers and Zakat al-Fitra

Once the holy month of Ramadhan is over, the pious get ready to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, Feast of Fast-Breaking, to thank the Almighty who enabled them to fast and to remember the needy and the indigent.

It is also customary on such an occasion to give gifts to the members of the family, especially children. Once it becomes known that the next day is going to be the Eid, it is very highly recommended to spend the night preceding the Eid in prayers and adoration.

On p. 104 of al-Saduq’s Thawab al-A’mal, Muhammad ibn Ibrahim is quoted saying that he heard Isma’eel ibn Muhammad quoting Muhammad ibn Sulayman quoting Ahmed ibn Bakr-al-Farisi quoting Muhammadibn Mis’ab quoting Hammad quoting Thabit quoting the great sahabi Anas ibn Malik saying that the Messenger of Allah (S) has said, “The heart of anyone who spends the Eid night [the night preceding the Eid] will not die on the Day when the hearts die.”

How to perform the Eid prayers, what is recommended and what is not in its regard, and all fiqh related to it in the following paragraphs are excerpted from Vol. 1 of Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih by Shaykh (mentor) Abu Ja’far ibn Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Babawayh al-Qummi (306 – 381 A.H.).

Is the Eid prayer compulsory (Sunnah wajibah) or is it highly recommended (Sunnah mustahabbah)? Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, whose followers are referred to as Shi’as Ja’faris Ithna-’Asheris, followers of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (S) as outlined by Imam Ali (as) and according to the fiqh of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (as) and who follow all the Infallible Twelve Imams (as), is quoted on p. 339, Vol. 1, of al-Saduq’s book Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih saying, “Prayers on both Eids (al-Fitr and al-Adha) are compulsory, and so is the prayer on the eclipse.”

The author comments on this weighty statement by saying that the Imam (as) means they are among “minor obligations,” that is, sighar al-faraiz, due to one narration by Hareez which states the following:

Zurarah quotes Imam Abu Ja’far (as) saying: “To pray both Eid prayers with an Imam is a Sunnah; no prayers should be performed before or after them on that occasion till the time of zawal.1

He (as) is also quoted on the same page as saying, “No Eid prayers on both Eids should be offered without an Imam (a just one), but if you pray it by yourself, there is no harm in doing so.” Hareez, on p. 340 of the same reference, quotes Zurarah citing Imam Abu Ja’far al-Baqir (as) saying, “The Commander of the Faithful (Imam Ali), peace be upon him, used not to eat anything on Eid al-Adha till he eats of what he offers by way of sacrifice. And he used not to go out on Eid al-Fitr before eating something and paying the fitra.” Then he added: “And we do likewise.”

How should the Eid (be it Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha) prayers be performed? They are two rek’ats without iqamah or athan. The imam starts by calling “Allahu Akbar!” once, then he recites Surat al-Fatiha and “Sabbih ismi Rabbikal-A’la” (Surat al-A’la, The Most High, Chapter 87, which is comprised of 19 verses), then he makes takbeer (by saying: “Allahu Akbar!”) five times, then he makes qunoot followed by rukoo’, then he is to prostrate twice (as is the case with fajr prayers).

When he stands to perform the second rek’a, he should recite Surat al-Fatiha followed by “Wal shamsi wa Duhaha, etc.” (Surat al-Shams [The Sun], Chapter 91, which is comprised of 15 verses), followed by four takbeers, including takbeerat al-qiyam. Having made takbeer for the fifth time, he makes rukoo’ and goes on to the prostrations as described above. What is recommended to be said during the qunoot (in the first rek’a) of a great occasion such as the Eid? We think the most beautiful supplication is one narrated by Muhammad ibn al-Fudayl who quotes Abu al-Sabah al-Kinani quoting Abu Abdullah Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (as), our sixth Imam, as follows:

In order to benefit the readers who are not versed in Arabic, we would like to offer this modest translation of the sophisticated text cited above, imploring the Almighty to forgive us for falling short of matching the Arabic text (English never rises to the level of classic Arabic especially when it comes to prayers, the Holy Qur’an, and supplications):

I testify that there is no god but Allah, the One and Only God, without any partner, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger. Lord! You are the Lord of greatness and magnanimity, generosity and might, potence, authority and dignity! I plead to You on this Day which You have made as an Eid for the Muslims and as a treasure for Muhammad (S) and an increase (in his prestige), to bless Muhammad and the progeny of Muhammad, to also bless Your angels who are near to You as well as all Your deputied messengers, and to forgive us and all believing men and women, and all Muslim men and women, the living and the dead.

O Lord! I plead to You to grant me of the best of that for which your righteous servants plead to You, and I seek refuge with You against all (evil) from which Your righteous servants seek refuge with You. Allah is the First and the Last of everything, the One Who knows everything and Who brings them back to life. The destiny of everything is to Him and so is its return. He is the One Who manages the affairs and brings life back to those in the graves. He accepts good deeds and unveils what is hidden; He reveals the secrets of the hearts. Allahu Akbar! His Kingdom is great; He is the ever-Living Who never dies; when He decrees a thing, He only says to it “Be!” and it is! To You are the voices humbled and the faces succumb, and no vision can ever reach him, nor can any tongue glorify You enough.

All forelocks are in Your grip and all affairs are referred to You: none can judge in their regard besides You, nor can anything be accomplished without Your aid. Allahu Akbar! Your protection encompasses everything; Your Dignity subdues everything; Your command overwhelms everything, and everything stands through You. Everything is humbled to Your greatness; everything is subjected to Your Exaltation; everything surrenders to Your will, and everything is a subject in Your Kingdom! Allahu Akbar!

The same reference contains other such sermons for those who appreciate them and who seek nearness to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala through reciting them.

Zakatul-Fitr (Fitra)

Zakatul-Fitr is a mandatory religious tax paid by those who can afford it at the end of the month of Ramadhan. It depends on the type of major item of food consumed by the believer during the year. This may be rice, wheat, barley, dates, etc. In weight, it should be at least three kilograms of food per person. It is also permissible to pay cash of equivalent value.

Due to the inflation and rising prices, we suggest that a fitra of $5.50 per person is reasonable. It must be paid by the head of the family on behalf of his dependents, including servants of both sexes, and/or dependent relatives who are fed in his house. If a Muslim or even a non-Muslim guest arrives at someone’s house prior to the night preceding Eidul-Fitr and dines with his host, it is incumbent on the latter to pay for the former’s fitra.

If the guest arrives after sunset of the night preceding the Eid, fitra is not obligatory even if he dines with his host. If the guest who arrives before sunset does not dine, fitra is still obligatory on his host. It is better, however, if both host and guest give fitra. If one’s wife is at her parents’ house on the night preceding the Eid, her parents should take out her fitra. On the last day of the month of Ramadhan, if someone arranges a majlis which commences after sunset, and if he treats his guests to iftar, he does not have to pay fitra on their behalf.

Who receives Fitra

Fitra should be given to deserving believers whose income is not sufficient to spend on their families for one year. Fitra cannot be given to one’s own dependents. Deserving neighbors and pious persons are good candidates to receive and enjoy the fitra. Fitra from Sayyids (descendants of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny) can be given to poor Sayyids or non-Sayyids. Fitra from non-Sayyids cannot be given to Sayyids. If deserving persons are not easy to find or identify, fitra should be sent to places where such persons can be found, or the amount should be sent to a mujtahid who would do justice in its distribution.

It is absolutely mandatory that the recipient of fitra be ‘adil, I.e., a just and fair person who can be trusted to distribute it properly, and it is necessary to ensure that fitra is not given to anyone who may in any possibility use it for sinful acts such as drinking liquors, gambling, etc.

Although it is permissible to send fitra to any place, it is better to distribute it to a deserving person locally. The time for giving fitra is from the night preceding Eidul-Fitr up till noon. If this is not possible for any reason, the amount of fitra must then be set aside and be distributed when deserving persons are present, or it may be sent to a mujtahid for proper distribution, and it cannot be paid prior to the time when it becomes due. The best time to pay it is before noon prayers on Eid al-Fitr.


  1. The time of zawal is when the sun gets closer to midday. For example, if noon is at 12:00 o’clock, the zawal is between 10:30 and 11:00 am. The reason why the Imam (as) says that there should be no prayers performed before or after the Eid prayer is, most likely, to highlight its great significance.

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