Zakat al-Fitra 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).
Ijtihadnetwork: 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.
This paper is to talk about the legal rulings of Zakat al-Fitr according to Ayatollah Sistani’s fatwas. In order to make readily accessible, the contents are classified into some categories as bellow:
Obligatory (Taklīfī) rules;
Conditions of obligation;
The payer of Zakat al-Fitra;
Some instances of the dependents such as guest, Fetus etc.;
The type, value, and conditions of what should be paid of Zakat al-Fitra;
The rulings of payment;
The rulings of spending;
Exchanging the amount earmarked for Zakat al-Fitr.
First: Obligatory (Taklīfī) Rules
A person should give Zakat with the intention of Qurbat, that is, to comply with the pleasure of Almighty Allah. And he should specify in his Niyyat, whether he is giving the Zakat on his wealth, or Zakatul Fitra.
Second: Conditions of Obligation
Payment of the fitrah is obligatory on whoever is adult and sane and is neither unconscious, nor poor, nor the slave of another. He should give, on his own behalf as well as on behalf of all those who are his dependents, about three kilos per head of wheat or barley or dates or raisins or rice or millet etc.
Third: The Payer of Zakat al-Fitra
At the time of sunset on Eid ul fitr night (i.e. the night preceding Eid day), whoever is adult and sane and is neither unconscious, nor poor, nor the slave of another, he should give, on his own behalf as well as on behalf of all those who are his dependents, about three kilos per head of wheat or barley or dates or raisins or rice or millet etc.
Note: If it is obligatory on a person to pay the fitrah of another person, his obligation will not end if the latter himself pays his own fitrah.
Forth: The dependents
One should pay Fitrah on behalf of all those persons who are treated as his dependents at his house on the nightfall of Eid ul fitr, whether they be young or old, Muslims or non-Muslims; irrespective of whether or not it is obligatory on him to maintain them, and whether they are in his own town or in some other town.
Fifth: Some Instances of the Dependents such as Guest, Fetus etc.
If one’s child is born after the sunset on the night of Eid ul fitr, it is not obligatory to give its fitrah. However, the obligatory precaution is that one should pay the fitrah of all those who are considered one’s dependents after sunset, till before the Zuhr of Eid.
It is obligatory to pay the fitrah of a guest who arrives at his house before sunset on Eid ul fitr night, with his consent, and he becomes his temporary dependent.
If a person employs someone like a carpenter, or a servant, and agrees to maintain him fully, he should pay his fitrah as well. But if he agrees that he would pay him for his labour, it is not obligatory on him to pay his fitrah.
Sixth: The type, value, and conditions of what should be paid of Zakat al-Fitra
Zakat al-Fitra should be given about three kilos per head of wheat or barley or dates or raisins or rice or millet etc.
It is also sufficient if he pays the price of one of these items in cash. As per obligatory precaution, he should not give from that food which is not staple in his place, even if it be wheat, barley, dates or raisins.
It is necessary that wheat or any other thing which a person gives as fitrah is not mixed with another commodity or dust, and if it is mixed, but in its pure form it equals a sa’a (about 3 kilos) and the quantity of the thing mixed with it is negligible or usable, there is no harm in it.
If a person gives fitrah from a thing which is inferior or defective, it will not be sufficient.
Seventh:The rulings of payment
Time of Payment
It is not correct to give fitrah before the month of Ramadhan, and it is better that it should not be given even during the month of Ramadhan. However, if a person gives loan to a poor person before Ramadhan, and adjusts the loan against fitrah, when payment of fitrah becomes obligatory, there is no harm in it.
Deadline for the Payment
If a person offers Eid ul fitr prayers, he should, on the basis of obligatory precaution, give fitrah before Eid prayers. But if he does not offer Eid prayers, he can delay giving fitrah till Zuhr.
If a person sets aside fitrah from his main wealth, and does not give it to a person entitled to receive it till Zuhr of Eid day, he should make Niyyat of fitrah as and when he gives it.
If a person does not give fitrah at the time when its payment becomes obligatory, and does not also set it aside, he should give fitrah later on the basis of precaution, without making the Niyyat of ada or qadha.
Eighth: Exchanging the Amount Earmarked for Zakat al-Fitr
If a person sets aside fitrah, he cannot take it for his own use, and replace it with another sum or thing.
Ninth: How to Deliver Zakat al-Fitra
It is not necessary that the poor to whom fitrah is given should know that this is as Zakat al-Fitra.
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَى وَالْفُرْقَانِ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ يُرِيدُ اللَّـهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّـهَ عَلَى مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. Quran, 2:185