The Fiqh of Sadaqat al-Fitr
By: Mufti Faraz ibn Adam
The great Hanafi faqih (jurist) Imam Ibn al-Humam mentions: “Sadaqat al-Fitr is compulsory upon every free Muslim.” (Sharh Fath al-Qadir, 2:285)
All the scholars base their opinion on the following ahadith:
‘Abd Allah Ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) narrates, “The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) enjoined the payment of one sa’ of dates or one sa’ of barley as Zakat al-Fitr on every Muslim slave or free, male or female, young or old, and he ordered that it be paid before the people went out to offer the ‘Id prayer.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:409)
‘Abd Allah Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) narrates, “The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) declared the payment of Sadaqat al-Fitr as obligatory; it purifies the fasting person from any indecent act or speech, and is a source of feeding the poor. If one pays Sadaqat al-Fitr before the salah (i.e. the ‘Id prayer), it is considered an accepted charity, if he pays it after the salah, it is considered an ordinary charity.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, p. 263)
There are many similar narrations establishing the same ruling.
The Pre-Requisites of Sadaqat al-Fitr Being Compulsory
Islam: According to the four schools of thought (madhahib), being a Muslim is a pre-requisite. (Sharh Fath al-Qadir, 2:286)
Free (not being enslaved): All the scholars agree that a slave will not be obliged to dispense of Sadaqat al-Fitr. (Ibid.)
Possessing the quantum (nisab) for Sadaqat al-Fitr: This condition is deduced from the hadith: “Sadaqat isn’t compulsory except for he who is well-off.” (Musnad Ahmad, 10:7)
What is meant by quantum (nisab) is: that threshold of wealth one must have for Sadaqat al-Fitr to be compulsory. If somebody possesses less than that amount, he will not be obliged to pay Sadaqat al-Fitr.
The Hanafi madhhab is solitary in specifying a set quantum. According to the Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali madhahib, one who possesses surplus provisions for the night and day of ‘Id for himself and his dependants, will be obliged to discharge Sadaqat al-Fitr. (Mawahib al-Jalil, 3:257;Mughni al-Muhtaj, 1:594; al-Mughni, 4:301)
The specifying of a quantum is based upon the fact that in many places, Sadaqat al-Fitr has been termed as Zakat al-Fitr. For example, the narration of ‘Abd Allah Ibn ‘Umar in Sahih al-Bukhari has the wording Zakat al-Fitr. Also, the report of Abu Sa’id al-Khudri in Sahih Muslimbears the same terminology. Hence, by way of analogy and the alluded meaning (isharah an-nass), we can conclude that Sadaqat al-Fitr enjoys the same threshold and quantum as that of Zakat.
In principle, there are three types of quanta (nisab) in the Hanafi madhhab, each quantum results in different rulings.
That which obligates Zakat: to possess assets of a productive nature equivalent to the value of 612.36 g of silver.
In this quantum, it is a requirement that the wealth one possesses has the capacity to grow and develop (numuw). Zakat is only compulsory in that asset which is of a productive nature; the asset has the capacity to increase. For example, in the animals which are regarded as zakatable, namely camels, cows and sheep, they grow and increase in reality by reproduction. These assets in reality are of a productive nature, it is witnessed by the eye. Hence, Zakat is obligatory on them. Another form of assets being of a productive nature is innately (hukman); in such assets, the actual asset doesn’t multiply or increase, but it inherently possesses the characteristic of being productive; they have the potential to result in a profitable return. Thus, gold and silver fall under this category, likewise cash.
The second type of quantum is to possess any asset beyond ones necessities equivalent to the value of 612.36 g of silver. One who has this will be liable for the following rulings:
Sadaqat al-Fitr becomes compulsory
The receiving of Zakat is impermissible
Animal sacrifice (udhiyyah) becomes compulsory
The financial maintenance of one’s family becomes obligatory
For this quantum, it isn’t necessary to possess wealth which is of a productive nature, nor is it necessary to be trading in a commodity. Likewise it isn’t a condition to possess these commodities for a full lunar year, unlike the first quantum. Whoever possesses this quantum will not be obliged to discharge Zakat, however, he will have to dispense of Sadaqat al-Fitr.
The final quantum is to be in possession of one day’s provision. According to some, it is to possess 50 dirhams (153.09 g of silver). This quantum results in:
The impermissiblity of begging
The permissibility of receiving Zakat
In addition, the possessor of this quantum will not be obliged to pay Sadaqat al-Fitr, nor will he have to perform animal sacrifice in the days of Hajj. (Ashraf al-Hidayah, 3:161)
In short, according to the Hanafi madhhab, for Sadaqat al-Fitr to be obligatory, one must possess any asset surplus of one’s basic needs which are equivalent to the value of 612.36 g of silver.
Who Has to Pay
According to the four schools of fiqh, one will have to pay Sadaqat al-Fitr on behalf of himself and his minor dependants when the above conditions are met.
Imam al-Haskafi mentions that a Muslim who meets all the above criteria is required to pay Sadaqat al-Fitr for himself and on behalf of his minor children who do not possess the required quantum. The same ruling applies for those suffering from dementia. (al-Durr al-Mukhtar, p.140)
If one’s children who haven’t reached the age of puberty possess the quantum, it will be permissible for their guardian to dispense of Sadaqat al-Fitr from their wealth. (Fatawa al-Hindiyyah, 1:211)
A husband will not be responsible to pay Sadaqat al-Fitr on behalf of his wife, nor his mature children. The reason being is that Sadaqat al-Fitr is compulsory on behalf of those whom you have complete guardianship (wilayah) and complete financial maintenance. So as the man has complete guardianship over his minor children and he is totally responsible for all their maintenance, he will be obliged to pay Sadaqat al-Fitr on their behalf. However, a man doesn’t have complete guardianship over his wife nor is he responsible for every form of maintenance. As for guardianship and custody, a husband only has custody over his wife in terms of marriage related rights. Likewise, a husband is duty bound to financially maintain his wife in relation to the usual expenditure, clothing, food and shelter. A husband will not be required to pay for anything beyond that.
Similarly, a man doesn’t hold complete guardianship over his mature children; they are regarded as adults. Plus, the father isn’t obliged to maintain these children financially. Thus, the two elements inducing the obligation of Sadaqat al-Fitr are deficient, so Sadaqat al-Fitr will not be compulsory on the husband on behalf of his wife, nor the father on behalf of his children.
Having said this, it will be permissible for a husband to discharge of Sadaqat al-Fitr on behalf of his wife. Equally a father can pay on behalf of his mature children. (Sharh Fath al-Qadir, 2:289-290)
A woman who has the quantum will be obliged to pay the Sadaqat al-Fitr herself, irrespective whether she is married or not. (Imdad al-Fatawa, 2:110)
Mature children who are in possession of the quantum will also be responsible to pay Sadaqat al-Fitr for themselves.
A point worthy of mentioning here is that a male isn’t responsible to pay Sadaqat al-Fitr on behalf of his parents, minor siblings or his relatives. However, if he did dispense of Sadaqat al-Fitr on their behalf, it will be permissible. (al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu, 2:903)
In conclusion, every male and female is responsible to give Sadaqat al-Fitr when they are eligible to do so.
What to Give
Islam is way of life which can be practised in all eras and all locations. Many injunctions are based on simple and common articles. For example, the calendar is based on the sighting of the moon, salah is centred on the positioning of the sun, fasting is founded on dawn and dusk, the sentence of an adulterer is executed by stoning. Likewise, the valuation of many monetary advancements within the Islamic code of law, revolve around simple grain and cereal widely available in the markets.
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) said, “We would give Zakat al-Fitr on behalf of every minor and adult, the free and enslaved in the era of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) one sa’ of foodstuff or one sa’ of cheese or one sa’ of barley or one sa’of dates or one sa’ of raisins. (Sahih Muslim, 2:106)
‘Abd Allah Ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) instructed us to give Sadaqat al-Fitr of one sa’ of dates or one sa’of barley. ‘Abd Allah Ibn ‘Umar mentions that the Sahabah later gave two mud (½ sa’) of wheat in place of dates and barley. (Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:411)
Shaykh Bashar Bakri Arrabi in his annotation of the great Hanafi work al-Lubab states one sa’equates to 3.2 kg. This is supported by various other texts and commentaries. Thus, ½ sa’ is equivalent to 1.632 kg. (al-Lubab fi ‘l-Sharh al-Kitab, p.169)
Based on the aforementioned ahadith, Imam al-Kasani mentions one should give:
1 sa’ of barley or
1 sa’ of dates or
½ sa’ of wheat or
1 sa’ raisins
(Bada’i al-Sana’i, 2:540)
Imam Ibn al-Humam has mentioned that for everything besides wheat one should give 1 sa’and for wheat he should give ½ sa’. He endorsed that this view is shared by Mu’awiyah, Ta’us, Sa’id Ibn Musayyab, Ibn Zubayr, Sa’id Ibn Jubayr and many other prominent individuals. (Sharh Fath al-Qadir, 2:228)
It is permissible to give the value of the above in cash, instead of the actual grain. However, according to Imam Muhammad al-Shaybani, only the value of wheat should be considered (not the value of barley or dates). (Radd al-Muhtar, 3:322)
By virtue of the inferred meaning (dalalah an-nass), the scholars have pointed out that the goal of Sadaqat al-Fitr is to enrich the poor and suffice their need. This enriching and sufficing is easily done with cash and other commodities. Thus, it will be permissible to give anything which has a value to it. Again, one will give whatever values to 1.6 kg of wheat. (al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu, 2:909-910; Bada’i al-Sana’i, 2:543)
So, it is permissible to give the authentically narrated items in their respected quantities or to give the value of 1.6 kg of wheat.
When calculating the price of wheat, one will consider the price and value of the area they dwell in.
Ibn Nujaym al-Misri states “Commodities will be evaluated in the city or areas there are in.” (al-Bahr al-Ra’iq, 2:400)
The Time of Dispensing Sadaqat al-Fitr
The dispensing of Sadaqat al-Fitr becomes compulsory upon an individual with the break of dawn on the day of ‘Id [al-Fitr, the 1st of Shawwal]. (Bada’i al-Sana’i, 2:544)
It is recommended to pay the Sadaqat al-Fitr before attending the place where ‘Id salah will be performed. (Sharh Fath al-Qadir, 2:305)
It is permissible to pay Sadaqat al-Fitr prior to the day of ‘Id. ‘Abd Allah Ibn ‘Umar said, “People used to give Sadaqat al-Fitr a day or two before the ‘Id. (Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:411)
In today’s climate, it is better and preferable to pay the Sadaqat al-Fitr many days in advance. The whole idea of Sadaqat al-Fitr is to benefit and suffice the poor on the day of ‘Id. Discharging of it prior to the ‘Id salah in the masjid or musallah, as it is common practice in the west, defeats the purpose and objective of Sadaqat al-Fitr. Hence, once should ideally pay the Sadaqah in adequate time so it can reach those who are worthy of it in due time. (Kitab al-Fatawa, 3:362)
If somebody failed to pay Sadaqat al-Fitr prior to the ‘Id salah, it will be permissible to discharge of it afterwards. Although to delay it is discouraged and disliked. (Nur al-Idah, p.162)
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “If one pays Sadaqat al-Fitr before thesalah, it is considered an accepted charity, if he pays it after the salah, it is considered an ordinary charity.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, p. 263)
There is dispute amongst the classical scholars with regards to exactly how many days in advance can Sadaqat al-Fitr be paid. The preferred view is that it will be permissible to pay even before the onset of Ramadan. However, to discharge of it in the month of Ramadan is the most preferred course of action, as all the scholars agree to this. (Kitab al-Fatawa, 3:363)
The Recipients of Sadaqat al-Fitr
The scholars are unanimous that the recipients of Sadaqat al-Fitr are identical to that of Zakat. This is based on the following verse:
“Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [Zakat] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveller – an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.” (Surat al-Tawbah v. 60)
The verse contains eight types of people:
Poor (fuqara’): They are those people who do not own in excess of their personal needs any type of wealth that is equal to the value of nisab (612.36 g of silver).
Needy (masakin): According to some scholars, they are those whose economic status is worse than the poor (fuqara’). The difference is a technical difference, but the principle is that neither of them possess in excess of their personal needs any type of wealth that is equal to the value of nisab.
Zakat collectors (‘amilin alayha): This refers to those individuals commissioned by the head of the Islamic government to collect Zakat. This isn’t applicable today.
Those whose hearts are being reconciled (mu’allafah al-qulub): This was an avenue to dispense your Zakat in during the early days of Islam. The Zakat money would be given to three types of people:
Those disbelievers from whom it was perceived that by giving this donation, they would embrace Islam.
To the leaders of the disbelievers in order to save the believers from their evil.
To those who have just accepted Islam. This payment would be made to elevate their spirits.
According to the Hanafi scholars, this avenue is now abrogated. (Sharh Fath al-Qadir, 2:265)
Emancipating slaves (fi ‘l-riqab): Zakat money can be used to purchase a slave from his master in order to set him free. Again, this is inapplicable.
Debtors (al-gharimin): This is regarding a person who despite having assets at his disposal, he is overwhelmed with debt and the debt exceeds the value of his assets.
Those in the cause of Allah (fi sabil Allah): According to the majority of scholars, this refers to and is restricted to only those people who are engaged in Jihad (military struggle).
Travellers (ibn al-sabil): This refers to those travellers who are in a desperate situation and have no access to their personal money. Money nowadays can be wired across the globe in a matter of minutes, hence, one who has the ability to receive his money, will not be allowed to take Zakat or Sadaqat al-Fitr.
Currently, only the poor, needy, debtor, the Mujahidin and the travellers are eligible to receiving Zakat and Sadaqat al-Fitr.
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