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Published in the 16-30 Nov 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVES

The ‘fast-breaking’ charity

"Indeed he succeeds who purifies his own self (i.e., obeys and performs all that Allah ordered, by following the true faith of Islamic monotheism and by doing righteous good deeds" (9:91). Saeed ibn Musayyib and Umar ibn Abdul Aziz said that this verse refers to Zakatul fitr which is meant to be sadaqah of the body and soul just as general sadaqah is a charity of money and property.
Abu Saeed al-Khudari reported "In the life time of Allah’s Messenger we used to give one Saa’ (four handfulls with hand held out, which is about 2.5 kg) of edibles as Zakatul Fitr (to the poor). Our food used to be either barley, raisins, aqit (cottage cheese) or dates" (Al-Bukhari).

Narrated Ibn Umar, "Allah’s messenger enjoined the payment of one saa’ of dates or one saa’ of barley as zakatul fitr by 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". 

Fitr zakat is obligatory on every Muslim who has an excess which suffice him and his dependents for the day and night of the Eid, even if they have no personal income. It is nafl (voluntary) to pay on the foetus of 4-months and above in the womb. Messenger of Allah said "The matter of the creation of human being is put together in the womb of the mother in forty days, then it becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period, then a piece of flesh for a similar period...The soul is then breathed into him". (Al Bukhari)
Zakatul fitr may be paid to one or several persons. Zakatul fitr has been imposed as a purification for those who had fasted and it purifies them from the evils of idle talk and anger while serving as a means of feeding the needy (Abu Dawood and al Hakim) 

Aboobakar Thwahir, Mumbai

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