After fasting the entire month of Ramaḍān, Muslims have an opportunity to celebrate on the day of Eid. This day is supposed to be enjoyable and fun. People will visit family members, enjoy delicious food, and wear fancy clothes. However, there is a segment of society that would find it difficult to do all that because of their financial circumstances. Their minds would be preoccupied with having to fulfill their basic needs for the day even though they should be celebrating.

A solution to this difficulty was instituted by the Messenger of Allah. He announced to his Companions that they must give a certain amount of food in charity before people went to pray the Eid prayer in the morning.[1] This charity is called Zakātul Fiṭr, Sadaqatul Fiṭr, or Fiṭrah which means: the charity for breaking the fast, since it is paid when Ramaḍān ends and fasting is over.

The Prophet explained that this charity not only feeds the poor and gives them an opportunity to enjoy the day of Eid, but it is also a spiritual purification for the giver since they might have engaged in improper speech or actions in the month of Ramaḍān.[2]

Giving this charity is an obligation [wājib] on every Muslim who possesses more than the monetary equivalent of about 3 ounces of gold [about $5817][3] in total possessions, excluding those which are absolutely required for living like clothing, a vehicle, basic furniture, housing, etc.

The amount to be paid was measured in foodstuffs during the time of the Prophet. It was four double handfuls (a saa` – 5lb) of a staple food like dates, barley, or raisins. The monetary value nowadays is equivalent to about US $10-30 in 2023, depending on which food item is being given.[4] However, it is recommended to pay the value in cash if it would be more helpful to the poor so they can purchase other things they need for the day of Eid.[5] Giving a gift card to a store might actually be more conducive to helping the poor.

The obligation to pay the Zakātul Fiṭr begins at dawn on the day of Eid al-Fiṭr [which is the day after Ramaḍān], so whoever possesses the minimum amount of wealth at that time must pay. If someone delays payment, the obligation remains and must still be fulfilled, even though it is considered late.

If you find it difficult to identify a person in legitimate need, there are organizations who can properly distribute it on your behalf. It is recommended to pay it early enough [about a week or two in advance] so that the person or organization distributing it can ensure it reaches deserving people prior to the Eid prayer. It is important to note that it must be given only to those who do not possess the minimum amount of wealth previously mentioned. Zakātul Fiṭr cannot be used for any other purpose like building a mosque, hospital, or other charitable activity.

A man is also required to pay a share of Fiṭrah on behalf of each of his minor children, unless they happen to be wealthy enough to pay it from their savings. A man is not responsible to pay it on behalf of his wife or his mature children.[6]

[Shaykh] Mustafa Umar

[1] See Sahih al-Bukhārī #1509

[2] See Sunan Ibn Mājah #1827

[3] Some scholars mention the minimum amount should be 21 ounces of silver [about $400]. Others say it is required for anyone who will have enough food for one day without having to work for it. If someone can pay and does not intend to accept it from others, they should pay it.

[4] A quick online search in 2023 showed that five pounds of raisins or dates cost about $22 and five pounds of barley was about $8.25.

[5] Consult your local Muslim charity organization or mosque for current prices. These organizations usually collect and distribute the fiṭrah.

[6] However, if a family member does pay it on behalf of another, it is technically valid, since permission is usually assumed in such cases and it is considered to be a gift. Nonetheless, there should be no expectation or pressure since this is an act of worship and it is primarily an individual responsibility.