The World Federation One Stop Fiqh

Zakāt al-Fiṭrah (The Fiṭrah Alms Tax)

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّى

Prosperous is he who purifies himself.
(Sūrat al-Aʿlā (87):14)

قَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع‏ إِنَّ مِنْ تَمَامِ الصَّوْمِ إِعْطَاءُ الزَّكَاةِ يَعْنِي الْفِطْرَةَ كَمَا أَنَّ الصَّلَاةَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ ص مِنْ تَمَامِ الصَّلَاةِ لِأَنَّهُ مَنْ صَامَ وَ لَمْ يُؤَدِّ الزَّكَاةَ فَلَا صَوْمَ لَهُ إِذَا تَرَكَهَا مُتَعَمِّداً وَ لَا صَلَاةَ لَهُ إِذَا تَرَكَ الصَّلَاةَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ ص إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ قَدْ بَدَأَ بِهَا قَبْلَ الصَّلَاةِ قَالَ‏ قَدْ أَفْلَحَ‏ مَنْ تَزَكَّى . وَ ذَكَرَ اسْمَ رَبِّهِ‏ فَصَلَّى‏

Imam Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq (a) said: ‘One of the signs of the completion of fasting [the month of Ramadan] is to give the zakat, that is, fiṭrah, just as sending blessings upon the Prophet (s) is one of the signs of the completion of ṣalāt. This is because whoever fasts but does not give zakāt al-fiṭrah, their fasting is not accepted if they intentionally abandon giving zakat. Likewise, ṣalāt is not accepted if one abandons sending blessings upon the Prophet (s). God, Mighty and Majestic is He, has mentioned zakat before ṣalāt – He says: “Prosperous is he who purifies himself [which is also interpreted to mean ‘gives his zakāt al-fiṭrah’], and mentions the name of his Lord, then performs prayers.”’

(Man lā yaḥḍuru al-faqīh, vol. 2, p. 183, hadith no. 2085)

FAQs on Zakāt al-Fiṭrah

The answers that follow are according to the rulings of His Eminence al-Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani (may God protect all our scholars).

When does zakāt al-fiṭrah become obligatory (wājib)?
Zakāt al-fiṭrah becomes obligatory at the time of sunset (ghurūb) on the eve of Eid al-Fiṭr.

If a person performs Eid prayers, then based on obligatory precaution, he must give fiṭrah before Eid prayers. However, if he does not perform Eid prayers, he can delay giving fiṭrah until the time of ẓuhr prayers on the day of Eid al-Fiṭr.

With what intention must a person give zakāt al-fiṭrah?
A person must give fiṭrah with the intention of qurbah – i.e. to humbly obey Allah.

What happens if someone forgets or does not give zakāt al-fiṭrah on time?
If a person does not give fiṭrah until the time of ẓuhr prayers on the day of Eid al-Fiṭr and does not set it aside either, then based on obligatory precaution, he must give fiṭrah afterwards without making the intention of giving it within its prescribed time (adāʾ) or belatedly (qaḍāʾ). He must give it only with the intention of qurbatan ilallāh.

Who must give zakāt al-fiṭrah?
Every Muslim who is of the age of legal responsibility (bāligh), sane, and not poor must give zakāt al-fiṭrah. A poor person is someone who cannot meet his and his family’s living expenses for one year (e.g. through their savings) and does not have an occupation by which he can meet his and his family’s expenses for one year.

A person who must give fiṭrah must also give it on behalf of those who are financially dependent on him (e.g. wife and children), whether they are in his town or another town.

What must be given as zakāt al-fiṭrah?
One ṣāʿ – which is approximately three kilograms – of food per head. The food that one gives must be considered a staple food in his town, such as wheat, barley, dates, raisins, rice, millet, or something similar. It suffices if one gives the food’s monetary value instead (see the question below: Can I pay my zakāt al-fiṭrah electronically?)

What is the ruling on guests?
It is obligatory for one to give the fiṭrah of a guest who arrives at his house before sunset on the eve of Eid al-Fiṭr, spends the night at his place, and is considered his dependent for the night.

The fiṭrah of a guest who arrives at one’s house after sunset on the eve of Eid al-Fiṭr is, based on precaution, obligatory on the host provided that the guest is considered the host’s dependant; otherwise, it is not. If a person is invited to break his fast (ifṭār) on the eve of Eid al-Fiṭr, he is not considered the host’s dependant, and the guest’s fiṭrah is not the responsibility of the owner of the house.

What if I am dependent on someone who is not going to give zakāt al-fiṭrah on my behalf?
If the person on whom it is obligatory to give your fiṭrah does not or cannot give it, then based on precaution, it becomes obligatory for you to give your fiṭrah provided that the conditions mentioned previously are fulfilled.

The obligation of the one who should have given it is not exempted.

What is the ruling about sayyids?
A person who is not a sayyid cannot give fiṭrah to a sayyid, but the reverse is permissible.

Can we give zakāt al-fiṭrah in advance?
You cannot give fiṭrah (as fitrah) before the month of Ramadan. However, there is no problem if you give a loan to a poor person before Ramadan and then count the loan as fiṭrah (i.e. you change your intention to fiṭrah) once fiṭrah becomes obligatory on you.

As for during the month of Ramadan, it is better that you do not give fiṭrah during this month unless you opt for the loan formula mentioned above.

To whom must zakāt al-fiṭrah be given?
Based on obligatory precaution, fiṭrah must only be given to poor Shias. If there are no poor Shias in one’s town, it can be given to other poor Muslims.

Fiṭrah must not be given to a nāṣibī (i.e. someone who shows enmity towards the Imams (a)), nor to someone who spends it for sinful purposes.

The obligatory precaution is that fiṭrah must not be given to someone who consumes alcohol, does not perform prayers, or publicly commits sins.

In giving fiṭrah, one is recommended to prefer his poor relatives and neighbours over others. Further, it is befitting that one give preference to learned, religious, and virtuous persons over others.

Can I pay my zakāt al-fiṭrah electronically?
Simply transferring an amount of money electronically in place of zakāt al-fiṭrah does not fulfil the sharʿī requirements for the payment of fiṭrah. An individual who wishes to transfer a payment in lieu of zakāt al-fiṭrah to an organisation (such as The World Federation) must appoint the person or persons responsible for zakāt al-fiṭrah matters of that organisation as his or her representative/agent (wakīl) for distributing the fiṭrah payment to the deserving needy. Therefore, just so that this is absolutely clear in the mind of the payer of fiṭrah, it is better for him or her to make the following intention (niyyah) when transferring the funds electronically:

“I am appointing the person or persons responsible for zakāt al-fiṭrah matters of such and such organisation (e.g. local Jamat, Regional Federation, or The World Federation of KSIMC) to distribute this as zakāt al-fiṭrah to the deserving needy on my behalf in accordance with sharʿī rules, qurbatan ilallāh.”

Chart illustrating the rules of fiṭrah depending on when it is given