Can we pay Zakat Al-Fitr early and in cash?

Zakat Contributor
Opinion
Zakat-al-Fitr
Photo : Dreamstime

Ibn Umar reported that the Prophet 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. [Al Bukhari]

After fasting and introspecting for the whole month of Holy Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the day of Eid Al-Fitr. This is day is for enjoying and fun. People eat a home-cooked meal, spend time with friends and family, and get decked up.

But, there is part of our society that would find it tough to celebrate this day. Especially this year, due to pandemic. And also due to their financial conditions. They will be busy even on Eid to fulfill their basic needs for the day.

A solution to this was given by our beloved Prophet (PBUH). He instructed his followers to donate a certain amount of food to charity before praying the Eid prayer in the morning.

Ibn Umar reported that the Prophet 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. [Al Bukhari]

This charity is called Fitrah, Zakat, or Sadaqat. This means, the charity for breaking the fast. This charity not only provides food to the poor to enjoy the day of Eid but also opens a gateway to spiritual purification. But the question is, can we pay Zakat earlier than the dawn of Eid?

Can we pay Zakat al-Fitr earlier?

According to many scholars, we can actually pay Zakat than the usual time. The Shafi and Hanafi schools have accepted it because it is related to fasting. And as fasting starts with the month of Ramadan, the Zakat can be paid at any time during the month. Even if you want, you can pay on the first day of Ramadan.

This is because, Zakah can be paid early, so why not Zakat al-Fitr.

Ibn Umar said, “They [the Muslims during the Prophet’s time] used to give al-Fitr one or two days before Eid” [Al- Bukhari]

Moreover, in this circumstances such as this covid-19 pandemic, it is actually recommended to pay it as early as possible within Ramadan.

Can we pay it in cash?

The answer to this question is a generical yes. If cash is a better option for the poor, pay it through cash.

According to our beloved Prophet (PBUH), the due Zakat al-Fitr is one sa’, that is 2176 grams of barley, dates, raisins or dried yogurt. Then, when wheat started to become a staple, it was estimated that one sa’ of barley is equivalent in value of half a sa’ of wheat.

Thus, it is seen that in old times they used to substitute a value for the items.

Ibn Taymiyyah, one of the renowned scholars, stated that the payment of Zakat al-Fitr in cash in city areas such as Damascus, where he lived, is actually better for the poor.

The payment of Zakat al-fitr is similar of the payment of Zakat-al Mal. If you have a relative in need, pay him or her instead of paying to a stranger. Pay to the families who are in dire need. Pay for the Muslim brothers who live in dire poverty out of their own countries. Therefore, here you can only pay through cash.

Find an efficient Muslim charitable organizations and platforms to donate to these people. It is always better to pay your Zakat through charity organizations.

This Eid is a different one. The world is suffering, our brothers are suffering. Try to ease their pain by paying Zakat early this year. Allah almighty always knows the best.