What Is Zakat al-Fitr?

As the holy month of Ramadan ends and Eid approaches, Muslims must pay an obligatory amount to the needy or poor. This amount is known as Zakat al Fitr (zakat for breaking the fast) or Sadaqat ul Fitr (charity for breaking the fast). The goal of this amount is to ensure that every Muslim can partake in the festivities of Eid and that there is a balance in the Muslim community.

Fitr vs Fitrana

These terms refer to the obligatory amount paid at the end of Ramadan. Fitrana is derived from the Urdu language and means fitra in Arabic. The word fitra is derived from the Arabic word fitr, which translates to the nature upon which Allah SWT created humans. The word fitr also translates to fast-breaking because eating is a natural human activity.

Fitra vs Zakat

The main difference between fitrana and zakat is that fitrana is obligatory on a person rather than their wealth or earnings. For example, when a person pays zakat, they pay it based on how much wealth they have, and if they don’t have enough wealth, then the obligation of zakat is waived. But in the case of Fitrana, every person has to pay it, no matter how much they have. The only exception is if paying the fitrana leaves a person needing basic life requirements for Eid Day. The second difference is that while zakat is paid yearly, fitrana is to be paid every Ramadan.

The Time Zakat al Fitr is Due

This zakat becomes due when the sun sets on the last night of Ramadan. Therefore, anyone who becomes a Muslim before sunset has a baby born to him or gets married has to pay zakat al fitr. If someone dies even after sunset, the amount will be paid on his behalf.

Who Should Pay Fitrana

According to most Islamic scholars, fitrana is obligatory for every person, including men, women, young children, the elderly and the poor.

 In a hadith, Umar RA said “The Prophet has made the payment of one Sa’ of dates or barley as Sadaqat-ul-fitr necessary for every person. Whether he is male or female, a free male or female, or a slave male or female.”

According to this hadith, every person should give Eid fitrana by themselves. But if someone cannot give this sadaqah, it should be given by the head of the family. This includes his wife, children, relatives, and others under his care, and he spends his money on them.


The husband has to pay Zakat al Fitr on behalf of his wife, even if she has her own money and is paying for a wife whose divorce is not yet final. But he doesn’t have to pay zakat on behalf of a rebellious wife or the one whose divorce is final. The amount of zakat remains the same for each wife.

Children & Parents

The guardian should pay the zakat on behalf of children who are minors and on behalf of a daughter who is married but whose marriage has not been consummated. If the son is rich, the guardian doesn’t have to pay his zakat. Although paying zakat for an unborn baby is not obligatory, if a person gives it, there is nothing wrong. Zakat al fitr is also payable for an orphan, whether they have wealth or not, and should be given by the guardian or a relative who is Islamically obliged to spend on him, even if they are minors.

The same goes for parents. If they cannot pay the zakat, the guardian should give it to them.

Extended Relatives

When giving zakat al fitr, one should start with the closest people, first giving zakat on his behalf, then on his wife, then his children, and then the rest of the relatives in order of closeness, following the pattern laid out in the inheritance rules.


The exception when giving Eid fitr zakat is that if a kaafir is under the care of a Muslim man, then the kaafir’s zakat is not obligatory. As stated in the hadith, “the Prophet PBUH enjoined fitrana as a purification for the fasting person if he engaged in any idle talk or obscenities, and to feed the poor.”

Further commentary on this hadith stated that the word purification means purifying the soul of a person who has fasted during Ramadan. And because purification of the soul is only for Muslims, there is no fitrana for a kaafir.

For Those Who Don’t Fast

Zakat al-Fitr is also payable for someone who doesn’t fast because of sickness or travel; this includes minor children and insane individuals under the care of the guardian. Even if the person has a valid and perfectly religious condition for not fasting, zakat al-fitr is still obligatory.

After Death

If a person for whom zakat al fitr is necessary dies, the zakat should be paid from his estate or wealth. Even if someone supporting a person dies, the obligation still stands.

The Time For Payment

In a hadith, Ibn Umar said that the Prophet PBUH ordered the zakat to be paid before the person went out for the Eid prayer. In another hadith, Ibn Abbas said that whoever pays the zakat before Eid is an accepted zakat, and whoever pays after Eid is a charity.

Amount of Zakat

The amount payable for zakat mentioned in the hadith is one Sa. Sa is a measure of volume and varies according to the food concerned. Therefore, whatever is given as zakat should be equal to one Sa of that type of food. One Sa is approximately equal to three kg of rice.

Items For Zakat

According to most scholars, zakat al-fitr should be paid in food. The Sunnah is to give one Sa of whatever the staple food is in the specific country. For example, during Muhammad SAW’s life, zakat ul fitr was paid in the form of one Sa of barley, dates, etc., which was the staple food of that time. But, according to the Hanafi school of legal thought, zakat al-fitr can also be paid in cash, provided that the money is equivalent to the amount described in the hadith.

The Exception

When someone doesn’t have enough items to do zakat, zakat al-fitr is waived. Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said that one in financial difficulty is not obliged to pay zakat-ul-fitr. Whoever has one Sa more than he needs for himself and the people he is obliged to support on the night and day of Eid, paying zakat al fitr is necessary for him. But whoever doesn’t have more to give, then he is not obliged to pay the zakat ul fitr.

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