What is Zakat-al-Fitr or Fitrana? Zakat-al-Fitr, which is also known as Fitrana, is an obligatory portion of food items which are to be given as charity before Eid prayer or during the last two days of the Holy Month of Ramadan. This annual donation of food is totally separate from the annual Zakat or monetary charity which is given by all Muslims, as it is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Additionally, unlike the Zakat payment which is calculated according to the personal wealth and income of every Muslim separately, the payment of Zakat-al-Fitr is made equally by all Muslims.[irp]
The amount of Zakat-al-Fitr or Fitrana? In accordance with the ways of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), each Muslim should give charity which is equal to the amount of one sa’a of grain. A sa’a is an uncommon unit of measurement as it is an ancient measure. Many religious scholars and leaders have expressed different modern interpretations to how much one Sa’a is. The most common belief is that 3 kilograms or 6.5 pounds are equal to one sa’a.
Every individual Muslim has to give away this amount of food, whether it is a man, woman, child or adult, healthy or sick, young or old. The senior head of the household is essentially responsible for paying the amount on behalf of his family and dependents. Generally, it is recommended that the payment of Zakat-al-Fitr be made in the form of food supplies and not in the form of cash. The essential purpose of this additional charity is that every family of the community has food to eat during the last few nights of Ramadan as well as the Eid Holidays. However, some ulemas believe that it is completely fine if you give Zakat-al-Fitr in form of cash equivalent to the amount discussed above.
For our readers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who are not sure what their current Zakat-al-Fitr is, it is recommended that the maximum possible price of a kilogram of wheat i.e. SAR 7 be used as a measure, and a sum of SAR 20 be paid by each Muslim. Some scholars even advise that donations of cash are also permissible, especially in those areas where food items are readily available, but still, they prefer the payment through food products. If you are 5 family members, you should pay SR 100 before performing Eid Prayers.
When to pay Zakat-al-Fitr? Since the Zakat-al-Fitr is a donation which is linked to the holy month of Ramadan, one must make this food donation in the last 02 days or even hours prior to the Eid Prayer. It is better if it is paid after sighting the moon of Shawwal and before Eid prayer. The Zakat-al-Fitr is meant for those families of the Muslim community who do not have enough means to feed themselves and their family members and dependents. Traditionally it is given to individuals directly, however, in some places the local mosque collects the food and then distributes it themselves. It is recommended that his food donation is given your own local community.
Some Mosques and other charitable Islamic organizations around the world, accept Zakat-al-Fitr in the form of cash payment, which it then uses to purchase food items and distribute amongst the needy of the society.