The rulings of Sadaqah al-Fitr

The rulings of Sadaqah al-Fitr


The following is a detailed essay on the rulings of Sadaqah al-Fitr, written by Mufti Faraz Adam.
The great Hanafi jurist Ibn al-Humaam mentions, “Sadaqah al-fitr is compulsory upon every free Muslim.” (Sharh fath al-qadeer 2/285 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

All the scholars base their opinion on the following:

Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) narrates,

‘The prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) 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.’  (Sahih al-Bukhari 1/409 Altaaf and sons)

Abdullah Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) narrates,

“The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) declared the payment of Sadaqah 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 Sadaqah al-fitr before the salaah, it is considered an accepted charity, if he pays it after the salaah, it is considered an ordinary charity.” (Abu Dawud p.263 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

The pre-requisites of sadaqah al-fitr being compulsory:

1) Islam

According to the four schools of thought, Islam is a pre-requisite.  (Sharh fath al-qadeer 2/286 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

2) Free (not being enslaved)

All the scholars agree that a slave will not be obliged to dispense of Sadaqah al-fitr.  (Sharh fath al-qadeer 2/286 dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

3) Possessing the quantum (nisaab) for Sadaqah al-fitr:

This condition is deduced from the hadith,

“Sadaqah isn’t compulsory except for he who is well-off.” (Musnad 10/7 Dar al-Hadith)

What is meant by quantum (nisaab) is: that threshold of wealth one must have for Sadaqah al-fitr to be compulsory.  If somebody possesses less than that amount, he will not be obliged to pay Sadaqah al-fitr.

The Hanafi school is solitary in specifying a set quantum.  According to the Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali schools, one who possesses surplus provisions for the night and day of Eid for himself and his dependents, will be obliged to discharge of Sadaqah al-fitr. (Mawaahib al-Jaleel 3/257 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah) (Mughni al-muhtaaj 1/594 Dar al-ma’rifah) (al-Mughni  4/301 Dar ‘aalam al-kutub)

The specifying of a quantum is based upon the fact that in many places, Sadaqah al-fitr has been termed as Zakaat al-fitr.  For example, the narration of Abdullah ibn Umar in Sahih al-Bukhari has the wording ‘zakaat al-fitr’.  Also, the report of Abu Saeed al-Khudri in Sahih Muslim bears the same terminology.  Hence, by way of analogy and the alluded meaning (ishaarah an-nass), we can conclude that Sadaqah al-fitr enjoys the same threshold and quantum as that of Zakaat.

In principle, there are three types of quanta (nisaab) in the Hanafi school of thought, each quantum results in different rulings.

a) That which obligates Zakaat: to possess assets of a productive nature equivalent to the value of 612.36g of silver.

In this quantum, it is a requirement that the wealth one possesses has the capacity to grow and develop (numuw).  Zakaat 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, zakaat 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.

b)  The second type of quantum is to possess any asset beyond ones necessities equivalent to the value of 612.36g of silver.  One who has this will be liable for the following rulings:

1) Sadaqah al-fitr becomes compulsory

2) The receiving of Zakaat is impermissible

3) Animal sacrifice (Udhiyyah) becomes compulsory

4) The financial maintenance of one’s family becomes obligatory

For this quantum (nisaab), 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 (nisaab).  Whoever possesses this quantum will not be obliged to discharge Zakaat, however, he will have to dispense of sadaqatul fitr.

c) The final quantum is to be in possession of one day’s provision.  According to some, it is to possess 50 dirhams (153.09g of silver).  This quantum results in:

1) The impermissibility of begging

2) The permissibility of receiving zakaat

In addition, the possessor of this quantum will not be obliged to pay sadaqah al-fitr, nor will he have to perform animal sacrifice in the days of Hajj. (Ashraf al-hidaayah 3/161 Dar al-Ishaa’at)

In short, according to the Hanafi School of fiqh, for sadaqah 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 grams of silver.

Who has to pay:

According to the four schools of fiqh, one will have to pay Sadaqah al-fitr on behalf of himself and his minor dependents when the above conditions are met.

Imam Haskafi mentions that a Muslim who meets all the above criteria is required to pay sadaqah 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.  (Ad-dur al-mukhtaar p.140 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

If one’s children who haven’t reached the age of puberty possess the quantum (nisaab), it will be permissible for their guardian to dispense of Sadaqah al-fitr from their wealth.  (Fataawa al-Hindiyyah 1/211 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

A husband will not be responsible to pay Sadaqah al-fitr on behalf of his wife, nor his mature children.  The reason being is that Sadaqah al-fitr is compulsory on behalf of those whom you have complete guardianship (wilaayah) 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 sadaqah 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 sadaqah al-fitr are deficient, so sadaqah 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 sadaqah al-fitr on behalf of his wife.  Equally a father can pay on behalf of his mature children. (Sharh fath al-qadeer 2/289-290 dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

A woman who has the quantum (nisaab) will be obliged to pay the sadaqah al-fitr herself, irrespective whether she is married or not. (Imdaad al-fataawa 2/110 Maktabah Dar al-uloom)

Mature children who are in possession of the quantum (nisaab) will also be responsible to pay sadaqah al-fitr for themselves.

A point worthy of mentioning here is that a male isn’t responsible to pay sadaqah al-fitr on behalf of his parents, minor siblings or his relatives.  However, if he did dispense of sadaqah al-fitr on their behalf, it will be permissible.  (Al-fiqh al-islami wa adillatuhu 2/903 Dar al-fikr)

In conclusion, every male and female is responsible to give sadaqah al-fitr when they are eligible to do so.

What to give:

Islam is way of life which can be practiced 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, salaah 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 Saeed al-Khudri said, “we would give zakaat al-fitr on behalf of every minor and adult, the free and enslaved in the era of the messenger of Allah one saa’ of foodstuff or one saa’ of cheese or one saa’ of barley or one saa’ of dates or one saa’ of raisins. (Muslim 2/106 Dar al-hadith)

Abdullah Ibn Umar reports that the messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) instructed us to give Sadaqah al-fitr of one saa’ of dates or one saa’ of barley.  Abdullah 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 Altaaf and sons)

Bashaar Bakri Arraabi in his annotation on the great Hanafi work al-Lubaab states one saa’ equates to 3.2 kg.  This is supported by various other texts and commentaries.  Thus, ½ saa’ is equivalent to 1.632 kg.  (Al-Lubaab p.169 al-maktabah al-Umariyyah)

Based on the aforementioned ahaadith, Imam Kaasani mentions one should give:

1)      1 saa’ of barley OR

2)      1 saa’ of dates OR

3)      ½ saa’ of wheat OR

4)      1 saa’ raisins

(Badaa’i as-sanaa’i 2/540 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

Ibn al-Humaam has mentioned that for everything besides wheat one should give 1 saa’ and for wheat he should give ½ saa’.  He endorsed that this view is shared by Mu’awiyah, Taa’us, Sa’eed  ibn Musayyab, ibn Zubair, Sa’eed ibn Jubair and many other prominent individuals. (Sharh Fath al-Qadeer 2/228 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah )

It is permissible to give the value of the above in cash, instead of the actual grain.  However, according to Imam Muhammad Ibn Hasan As-Shaybaani, only the value of wheat should be considered (not the value of barley or dates).  (Rad al-muhtaar 3/322 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

By virtue of the inferred meaning (dalaalah an-nass), the scholars have pointed out that the goal of sadaqah 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 1.6kg of wheat.  (al-fiqh al-islaami wa adillatuhu 2/909-910 Dar al-fikr)  (Badaa’i as-sanaa’i 2/543 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

So, it is permissible to give the authentically narrated items in their respected quantities or to give the value of 1.6kg 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 ar-raa’iq 2/400 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

The time of dispensing sadaqah al-fitr

The dispensing of sadaqah al-fitr becomes compulsory upon an individual with the break of dawn on the day of ‘Eid. (Badaa’i as-sanaa’i 2/544 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

It is recommended to pay the sadaqah al-fitr before attending the place where ‘Eid salaah will be performed. (Sharh fath al-qadeer 2/305 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

It is permissible to pay sadaqah al-fitr prior to the day of ‘Eid.  Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar said, “People used to give Sadaqah al-fitr a day or two before the ‘Eid. (Sahih al-Bukhari 1-411 Altaaf and sons)

In today’s climate, it is better and preferable to pay the sadaqah al-fitr many days in advance.  The whole idea of sadaqah al-fitr is to benefit and suffice the poor on the day of ‘Eid.  Discharging of it prior to the ‘Eid salaah in the masaajid, as it is common practice in the west, defeats the purpose and objective of sadaqah 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. (Kitaab al-fataawa 3/362)

If somebody failed to pay sadaqah al-fitr prior to the ‘Eid salaah, it will be permissible to discharge of it afterwards.  Although to delay it is discouraged and disliked. (Nur al-idhaah p.162 al-Misbaah publications)

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: If one pays Sadaqah al-fitr before the salaah, it is considered an accepted charity, if he pays it after the salaah, it is considered an ordinary charity.” (Abu Dawud p.263 Dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

There is dispute amongst the classical scholars with regards to exactly how many days in advance can Sadaqah al-fitr be paid.  The preferred view is that it will be permissible to pay even before the onset of Ramadhan.   However, to discharge of it in the month of Ramadhan is the most preferred course of action, as all the scholars agree to this.  (Kitaab al-fataawa 3/363)

The recipients of sadaqah al fitr:

The scholars are unanimous that the recipients of Sadaqah al-Fitr are identical to that of Zakaat.  This is based on the following verse:

“Zakaat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [Zakaat] 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.” (Surah Taubah verse 60)

The verse contains eight types of people:

1) Poor (Fuqaraa’)

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 nisaab (612.36g of silver).

2) Needy (Masaakeen):

According to some scholars, they are those whose economic status is worse than the poor (fuqaraa’).  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 nisaab.

3) Zakaat collectors (‘Amileen alayha):

This refers to those individuals commissioned by the head of the Islamic government to collect zakaat.  This isn’t applicable today.

4) Those whose hearts are being reconciled (mu’allafah al-quloob):

This was an avenue to dispense your Zakaat in during the early days of Islam.  The Zakaat money would be given to three types of people:

a) Those disbelievers from whom it was perceived that by giving this donation, they would embrace Islam.

b) To the leaders of the disbelievers in order to save the believers from their evil.

c) 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-qadeer 2/265 dar al-kutub al-ilmiyyah)

5) Emanciapting slaves (fi ar-riqaab)

Zakaat money can be used to purchase a slave from his master in order to set him free.  Again, this is inapplicable.

6) Debtors ( al-gharimeen)

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.

7) Those in the cause of Allah (Fi sabeel Allah)

According to the majority of scholars, this refers to and is restricted to only those people who are engaged in Jihad (military struggle).

8 )Travellers (Ibn as-sabeel)

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 zakaat or sadaqah al-fitr.

Currently, only the poor, needy, debtor, the mujahideen and the travellers are eligible to receiving zakaat and sadaqah al-fitr funds.