[charity at the time of Fitr]
We gratefully acknowledge and thank Islamic Publications Ltd. for permission to print this excerpt (Ch. 5) from 
Everyday Fiqh (vol. 2) 
by Abdul Aziz Kamal
Its Meaning

Fitr is breaking the fast, and Sadaqah Fitr is the charity given away at the conclusion of the fasting month of Ramadhan.  It was enjoined upon by the holy Prophet the same year that fasting was made obligatory for the Muslims.

Its Wisdom and Benefits

 Muslims fasting during the month of Ramadhan do all they can to observe the sanctity of the sacred month by obeying the Shari'ah instructions in he regard, ye wittingly or unwittingly they do commit mistakes and errors.  Sadaqah Fitr (‘Id Charity) has been enjoined  upon them to inculcate the habit of spending one’s wealth willingly for the cause of Allah and to atone for small errors and to make the fast as perfect as possible and acceptable to Allah.  Besides this, the great wisdom and benefit of enjoining ‘Id charity on well-to-do persons is to help the poor and needy individuals of society [so that they can]  obtain for themselves the basic necessities of life more easily and join others in the celebration of ‘Id and [so a] congregational service held on this occasion.

 Hadrat Ibn ‘Abbas says :

“The Holy Prophet enjoined Sadaqah Fitr so that the fasters and purified of their indecent and shameful heirs and the poor and [also the] needy ones are enabled to arrange for their basic necessities of food and clothing. Therefore, the Sadaqah of the person who gives it away before the ‘Id Prayer will be accepted by Allah as real charity, but the Sadaqah of the one who delays and pays it afterwards will be treated as ordinary charity”.  (Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah).
Shah Waliullah says : 
Id day is the day of rejoicing, and the power and strength of Islam is manifested by the great numbers and congregations of the Muslims ; the Sadaqah of Fitr not only promotes that cause but also helps to perfect the fast.
Injunction of Sadaqah Fitr

Sadaqah Fitr is an obligatory duty which is incumbent on every well-to-do Muslim, whether male or female, minor or major,  who possesses property, over and above his basic needs and requirements, amounting to Nisab for Zakat or not.   For instance, if a person has a house, rented or vacant, in addition to the one in his personal use, he will be required to pay Sadaqah if the value of the house reaches up to Nisab, though it may not be subject to Zakat otherwise.  However, if the rent of the house is his only source of income, this will be his basic need and he will be exempted from Sadaqah.  Or if a person has extra utensils or furniture in addition to those in his personal use, whose value amounts up to Nisab, he will be required to pay Sadaqah Fitr  although he may not have to pay Zakat. The Holy Prophet has said :

 “lt is to be known the Sadaqah Fitr is a duty incumbent on every Muslim, whether male or female, free or slave, minor or major.” (Tirmidhi).

 There is no other condition except the Nisab as mentioned above for Sadaqah Fitr to be obligatory.  It is incumbent on the slave but will have to be paid by his master, and on the minor and [for] insane persons it will have to be paid by their parent or guardian.  The condition of the lapse of a year does not apply to Sadaqah Fitr ; if a person gets wealth a few moments before dawn on the ‘Id day, he will be duty bound to give away Sadaqah.

Time when Sadaqah Fitr becomes obligatory

 Sadaqah becomes obligatory on every Muslim who is alive at the appearance of dawn on the ‘Id day.  Thus there is no Sadaqah on a person who dies before dawn or is deprived of wealth and is reduced to poverty before dawn.  Similarly Sadaqah will be obligatory for a baby who is born before dawn during the night but not for a baby who is born afterwards. Sadaqah is also obligatory on a person who embraces Islam before dawn on the ‘id day. 1

Time when Sadaqah Fitr has to be paid

 Though Sadaqah becomes obligatory at dawn on the ‘id day its purpose and spirit demand that it should be distributed among the poor and needy people a few days earlier so as to enable them to make necessary arrangements for their food and clothing well in time for the celebration of ‘Id and congregational prayers.  It is reported in Bukhari that the Companions of the Holy Prophet usually paid out their ‘Id charities a couple of days before the ‘Id day.  If a person cannot do so, he should distribute his charity before the ‘Id Prayer in any case.  The Holy Prophet has said :

 The Sadaqah of the person who gives it away before the ‘Id Prayer will be accepted by Allah as real charity, but the Sadaqah of the one who delays it and pays afterwards will be treated as ordinary charity”.

 If someone forgets to pay off his ‘Id charity before the ‘Id Prayer due to negligence or some other reason, he must pay it as soon as possible after the ‘Id Prayer.

Who has to pay for whom?

1. A well-to-do father has to pay Sadaqah Fitr [by] himself, and [by] his minor children from their property if they are wealthy, otherwise from his own pocket.

2. A father has to pay on behalf of his major children also if they are poor and needy, otherwise not.

3. A father has to pay on behalf of his insane children even if they are major and [either] possess or do not possess property.

4. A master has to pay for his servants who are his dependants and living under his guardianship.

5. It is not obligatory for a husband to pay Sadaqah on behalf of his wife, but if he does so as an act of goodness, it is permissible and valid.

6. If the father is dead, the grandfather will pay the charity on behalf of those mentioned above.

7. A well-do-do woman has to pay Sadaqah only for herself ; she is under no obligation to pay it on behalf of her children, or parents, or husband.

Quantity per head

 Sadaqah Fitr has to be given at a uniform rate of 1 kilo [110 grams] of wheat or wheat flour per head or the double of that [for the] case of barley, barley flour, dates or raising (‘Ilm al-Fiqh, IV,p.15).

Miscellaneous Regulations
1. Fasting is no condition; even if a person has not fasted the month of Ramadan, he has to give away Sadaqah Fitr.

2. One may give corn or its value in cash, whichever is to the advantage of  needy persons.

3. If a person wants to give some other kind of corn instead of wheat or barley, he should give a quantity equal in value to the quantity of wheat or barley.

4. One or more persons may give away their total charity's to one or more needy persons as and when required.

5. If a person has some wheat and some barley, should make up the required quantity from both.

6. ‘Id charity can be sent to other places if need be, but this should not be done except under extreme circumstances.

7. The heads of expenditure of Sadaqah Fitr are the same as those of Zakat.

Animal Sacrifice 

As atonement for a sin, or in fulfilment of a vow, or by a person who is prevented from performing Hajj or ‘Umrah.

 At the Truce of Hudaibiyah, when the Holy Prophet was prevented from proceeding to Makkah for performing the Hajj, he sent a sacrificial offering through Najiah Aslami with the instruction that neither he or his companions should eat of the sacrificial meat.

8. The whole of the hady meat, which is not permissible for the pilgrim to eat, has to be given away in charity to the local needy people or to others living away from Makkah.

9. The hady meat of which one is allowed to eat, may be divided into three lots like the other sacrificial meat, and distributed accordingly among the needy, relatives and friends, etc. but this is not essential ; one may give away the whole of it to he needy and indigent people.

1. According to the Ahl al-Hadith, the time when Sadaqah becomes obligatory starts from sunset on the last day of Ramadan and ends a little before the ‘Id Prayer.  As it is a charity given away on account of the breaking of the fast, it should become obligatory at the time fast is broken on the last day of Ramadan, and may be paid even earlier.

Everyday Fiqh (Vol. 2) by Abdul Aziz Kamal ©1986 published by Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Ltd., 13-E Shah Alam Market, Lahore, Pakistan