Zakat al-Fitrah is a special form of obligatory zakat given at the end of the month of Ramadan, during the day of Eid.
The estimated minimum value of zakat al-fitrah, for 2020, in the United States, is US $10.00 per eligible person. The sum must be paid on a person’s behalf as well as on behalf of all those who are his dependents. This would also include any guests who are staying overnight during the eve of Eid al-Fitr, under the care of the person. A family of four, for example, who also has two guests staying overnight during the eve of Eid al-Fitr would pay six times the individual zakat amount, for a total of US $60.00, to account for each family member and guest.
Please note, if a center or person knows of someone needy in their city, as an obligatory precaution, it is not religiously allowed to send the Zakat al-Fitrah to feed the poor outside of that city. [Reference: Minhaj al-Salihin, Book 1, page 383, 2001, Mas’ala #1182.]
If it is difficult for you to pay Zakat al-Fitrah to its eligible recipient in your town, and you prefer to use I.M.A.M.’s services, you may make your payment ahead of time and delegate I.M.A.M. to allot Zakat al-Fitrah on your behalf on the night of Eid. I.M.A.M. will then disburse it according to the religious criteria.
Establishment of Zakat Al-Fitrah
Zakat is an obligatory tax prescribed by God the Almighty who likened it to prayer in many verses. He states in the Holy Qur’an: “Successful indeed are the believers who are humble in their prayers and who shun vain conversation and who are payers of the poor due.” (23:1-4). The Prophet (as) confirmed it in many traditions as a pillar of Islam.
Guidelines for Payment
Zakat al-Fitrah is obligatory on the individual who is sane, an adult (physically mature), and financially capable (whose finances are secured through available assets or continuous income).
This type of Zakat should be set aside on the eve of Eid al-Fitr and be paid on the day itself, which marks the first day of the month of Shawwal. It may also be paid earlier to a delegated person/organization, who will take the appropriate steps to distribute it during the obligated time period.
A sum must be paid on a person’s behalf as well as on behalf of all those who are his dependents. This would also include any guests who are staying overnight during the eve of Eid al-Fitr, under the care of the person. A family of 4, for example, who also has 2 guests staying overnight during the eve of Eid al-Fitr would pay a total of 6 times the Zakat, to account for each family member and guest. For every individual, the minimum given must be enough to feed one miskeen (needy person), which is the equivalent of 6.6 pounds of a popular basic food commodity such as rice or wheat (flour), as opposed to a cooked full meal. Therefore, the Dollar amount given is the estimated equivalent value of 6.6 pounds of the basic food commodity. On the day of Eid, the zakat will be distributed to the poor.
How is the monetary value calculated?
The estimated minimum value of Zakat al-Fitra for 2020 is US $10.00 per eligible person. The monetary value is estimated through the common understanding (Urf) of the current value of the basic food commodity. Since prices vary from region to region and fluctuate from season to season, we have determined the value based on the Consumer Price Indexes (CPI) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as a general search of the cost of the top two basic food commodities, Flour and Rice, from nationwide retailers. We have applied a precautionary buffer (Ihtiat) to the value since the CPI values are averages and true costs may vary in range in different parts of the country. Please note, a person may pay more than the estimated value if desired, but the minimum amount is what is obligatory.
Consumer Price Indexes (CPI) – Flour (https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/APU0000701111?amp%253bdata_tool=XGtable&output_view=data&include_graphs=true)
Consumer Price Indexes (CPI) – Rice (https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/APU0000701312?amp%253bdata_tool=XGtable&output_view=data&include_graphs=true)
Who can I pay Zakat al-fitrah to?
The Zakat al-Fitrah may be paid directly to the poor, through your local mosque or center, or through the religious authority (Marja) and their agents (Wakeel), who have knowledge and experience in the proper venues of appropriation. Please note, Zakat al-Fitra may only be given to the poor and may not be used by an entity to cover its expenses, unless permission was explicitly given by the religious authority, or his authorized representative.