The social implications of the religion of Islam is that wealth must be distributed in a way that no poor remains in the Islamic Ummah. One of many parts to this system is the Fitriyah, or Zakatul-Fitr that is payable at the end of the Month of Ramandhan by Muslims worldwide to those most in need. Here are some answers to common questions with regards to this alms.
1. WHO IS OBLIGED TO GIVE:
2. WHAT TO GIVE:
What needs to be paid is the following:
- 3kg of food or more per head to someone entitled to zakat
- The food must be a staple food in the town in which you live in: for example wheat, barley, dates, raisins, rice etc., and it is fine to give its dollar value instead.
- As an obligatory precaution, if what is listed above is not considered a staple food in the town, then giving any of them will not suffice. It must be 3kg of the staple food in that town.
- The funds used for paying the alms must be halal money – that is, acquired lawfully.
- Once set aside as fitrah – you can no longer use that item or replace it. It is no longer yours!
3. WHO TO GIVE IT TO:
Firstly, a non sayid can not give to a sayed and the sayed can not accept zakat from some one who is not a sayed.
Secondly, it must be must be given to the poor shia muslim (ithna ashari) in the first instance. The site of Syed Sistani stats the following:
Ruling 2022. As an obligatory precaution Fitrah should be paid to Shiah poor only, who fulfil the conditions mentioned for those who deserve receiving Zakat (That is, unable to fill their commitments for one year). But if there is no deserving Shiah in one’s hometown (after investigating to be sure there are none), it can be given to other deserving Muslims.
However, in all cases it must not be given to a a nasabi, the enemies of Ahlul Bayet Peace Be Upon Them.
There is no obligation that person you give the Zakat Ul Fitr to be adil/just, but it is not to be given to someone who consumes alcohol, does not pray or publicly commits sin, or to some one who will use the money to commit sin.
You should be confident who you give it to is a poor person.
Preference should be given to the poor relatives and neighbors, and thereafter to give preference to the learned persons over others. but in all cases, they must not be an obligation for you to pay for them as your dependents (ie you can not give this alms to your son or father if even if they are poor, as they depend on you regardless).
It is important to note the following:
2022. As an obligatory precaution Fitrah should be paid to Shiah poor only, who fulfil the conditions mentioned for those who deserve receiving Zakat. But if there is no deserving Shiah in one’s hometown (after investigating to be sure there are none), it can be given to other deserving Muslims.
2043. If a deserving person is available in the hometown of a person, the obligatory precaution is that he should not transfer the fitrah to some other place, and if he does and it is lost, he should give its replacement.
That means that we should make every effort to look after the poor in our own cities and towns first, looking after the Shia Muslims, and then after that, the Muslims in the broader sense first. If we can not, after doing all we can to investigate and look for them, find them, we can then consider sending it elsewhere.
In Australia, on June 18th, a new law will come in to place that will leave over 12,000 asylum seekers in the country destitute and no where to turn to as the government cuts off their only life line they have had. The following is from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre “Roof Over My Head” campaign, which you can find here: http://asrccampaigns.nationbuilder.com/a_roof_over_my_head
12,500 people including pregnant mothers and families with school age children could be left destitute – cut off from a basic living allowance whilst seeking asylum.
And in a cruel twist, the cuts commence Monday the first day of Refugee Week.
The government’s heartless policy will thrust single parents with children as young as six, pregnant women, students in full time study, people near retirement age and those with undiagnosed mental health issues into homelessness, within a month.
They will lose their only lifeline; a meagre $35 a day (89% of the Newstart allowance) because they were deemed not ‘vulnerable enough’, according to the new eligibility criteria that the government has set.
For years, the very same people have been denied work rights, and now may have just 7-10 days to find a job. Many will be cut off without any assessment of whether they are even job ready.
In my 17 years as a lawyer, social worker and CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), I have never seen cuts to this scale.
It’s with a heavy heart and no small degree of contained fury that I tell you without a doubt, that this will cause a level of homelessness well beyond anything that the community services sector has ever seen, or is able to support.
So our duty is to firstly find those with in our city that are Shia Muslim to help firstly, then, once they are all helped out, all Muslims in the broader sense. Making sure they fulfill they criteria (for example the do not drink alcohol etc). Of course a question will be raised – should we not be helping everyone? Why is this limited to helping only a group of people? Why should this alms only be paid to Shia Muslims?
The answer is that this is a misconception. They are eligible to be helped and our obligation is to help them, whether or not they are Muslim. However, it is only the title of the money given to them that changes. For example – this alms can not be give to your parents or children, or wife, even if they are poor, but you must still continue to pay for their needs as it is an obligation for you to do so! So make sure you do not use that as an excuse! But rather, as a reason to give more!
4. WHEN SHOULD IT BE GIVEN:
This alms should be given before Eid congregational prayers if one is attending that, and if not, there is enough time until noon prayers on the day of eid to do so.
You can however, after setting the funds or food aside, to delay giving it until such time you find the appropriate person to give it to.
Sources: Arabic and English versions of the site: www.sistani.org,
Islamic Laws 3rd Edition – According to Syed Sistani: A new annotated translation by Mohammed Ali Ismail.