Summary ~ Zakaat ul fitr has been set at £5 per person and his dependents and needs to be paid before the end of Ramadan.
Zakaat ul fitr is a specific payment made at the end of Ramadan
When the month of Ramadan finishes, there is a specific payment that is made which the prophet (s) made obligatory on all people whether they fasted or not.
It is a zakaah on the individual rather than on wealth and must be paid for each individual.
Ibn Umar narrated that Allah’s Messenger has made Sadaqat-ul-Fitr obligatory, (and it was), either one Saa’ of barley or one Saa’ of dates (and its payment was obligatory) on young and old people, and on free men as well as on slaves. [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 2.588]
It has the virtue for compensating for any shortcomings during Ramadan.
Abdullah ibn Abbas narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prescribed the sadaqah (alms) relating to the breaking of the fast as a purification of the fasting from empty and obscene talk and as food for the poor. If anyone pays it before the prayer (of ‘Id), it will be accepted as zakaah. If anyone pays it after the prayer, that will be a sadaqah like other sadaqahs (alms). [Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 1605]
It is paid by the head of the household for each member of his family, providing he has the ability
Zakaat ul fitr, also known as Sadaqaat-ul-Fitr, is due not only upon the individual, but also for each and every one of his (Muslim) dependents.
Nafi narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said, “The Prophet made incumbent on every male or female, free man or slave, the payment of one Saa’ of dates or barley as Sadaqaat-ul-Fitr (or said sadaqaah-Ramadan).” The people then substituted half Saa’ of wheat for that. Ibn ‘Umar used to give dates (as Sadaqaat-ul-Fitr). Once there was scarcity of dates in Medina and Ibn ‘Umar gave barley. And Ibn ‘Umar used to give Sadaqat-ul-Fitr for every young and old person. He even used to give on behalf of my children. Ibn ‘Umar used to give Sadaqaat-ul-Fitr to those who had been officially appointed for its collection. People used to give Sadaqaat-ul-Fitr (even) a day or two before the ‘Id. [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 2.587]
If the person has sufficient to feed and clothe his family including himself, is free from debt and housing expenses on the night before Eid, then he is liable for Zakat-ul-Fitr.
Children with their own wealth are also obligated to pay it for themselves.
The amount is four saa’ scoops of the staple food which is usually about 3 litres
The food that is given should be the staple food of the area.
The amount of Zakat-ul-Fitr that needs to be paid is one saa’ of staple food. A saa’ is four double handed scoopfuls and equates to approximately 2-3 Kg. The discrepancy occurs because the saa’ was not a measurement by weight but more by volume.
There is some slight disagreement upon the quantities due to conflicting narrations. The prophet (s) would give a saa’ of dates or raisins and for wheat and barley there are some narrations which state that he would give one saa’ and others state that he would give half a saa’.
Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said: I shall always pay one sa’. We used to pay during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) one saa’ of dried dates or of barley, or of cheese, or of raisins. This is the version of Yahya. Sufyan added in his version: “or one saa’ of flour.” The narrator Hamid (ibn Yahya) said: The people objected to this (addition); Sufyan then left it. [Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 1614]
In the modern day many people give the cash equivalent and send it to those people who need it most
Historically, most of the scholars were very strict in terms of how the payment should be made, stipulating that the payment must be in the form of food and cash equivalents are not acceptable.
In the current time due to the disparity in wealth and the ability to send money abroad easily, many scholars allow cash equivalents, even preferring it as it gives more flexibility for the needy and the payment is supposed to be for their benefit.
The predominant view is that it should be given locally, but if there is greater need elsewhere it is permitted to send to different areas.
The categories of recipients are the poor and needy
The recipients of Zakat-ul-Fitr are essentially the same as those stipulated for Zakaat ul maal. However, preference is often given to the poor and needy as the purpose of paying zakaah is to make them free from need on the day of Eid.
Abdullah ibn Abbas narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prescribed the sadaqah (alms) relating to the breaking of the fast as a purification of the fasting from empty and obscene talk and as food for the poor… [Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 1605]
It must be paid before Eid ul Fitr
It needs to be paid before the Eid ul Fitr prayer, or towards the end of Ramadan
The time for paying it becomes obligatory from sunset of the last day of Ramadan, although can be paid anytime during Ramadan, with the greater reward being toward the end.
This was based on the practice mentioned by Ibn Umar.
Nafi narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said, “The Prophet made incumbent on every male or female, free man or slave, the payment of one Saa’ of dates or barley as Sadaqaat-ul-Fitr (or said sadaqah-Ramadan).” ….. People used to give Sadaqaat-ul-Fitr (even) a day or two before the ‘Eid. [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 2.587]
It must however be paid before the Eid prayer.
Ibn Umar narrated that Allah’s Messenger enjoined the payment of one Saa’ of dates or one Saa’ of barley as Zakat-ul-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 ‘Eid prayer. (One Saa’ = 3 Kilograms approx.) [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 2.579]
If it is not paid before the Eid prayer, on has sinned, but is still liable to pay it.