Saturday, October 14, 2006

Duties after Ramadhan

Duties after Ramadhan
Tajuddin Shu’aib

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;

All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-ā’lamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger
As the month of the Blessed Ramadhan or Ramadhan Al Mubarak nears its end, there are three important obligations to help the faster bid the month a deserving farewell. These obligations also bring the faster closer to Allah, elevate his Iman and increase the weight of his deeds. These duties are: Zakatul-Fitr, (Fast breaking alms); Takbir, (utterance of Allah is the Greatest), and `Eid Prayer, (Festival of fast breaking).

Fast Breaking Alms (Zakatul -Fitrah)

Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala has mandated the observation of fast breaking alms (Zakatul -Fitrah) at the end of Ramadhan before Eid Prayer. Although this obligation was established by the Messenger (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam), it has the power of all the established commands of Allah, for the power to legislate and prescribe a rule has been granted to the Messenger of Allah (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), by Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, Who states: "He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah; but if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over their (evil) deeds." (Qur’an, 4:80)

Also, "If anyone contends with the Messenger (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that becoming to men of faith..." (Al-Qur’an 4:115) Also, "...So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you..." (Al-Qur’an, 59:7)


The giving of the fast breaking alms is mandatory on every Muslim, old, young, man and woman, etc. In a hadith related by Abdullah bin 'Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) he said:

"The Messenger of Allah  (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) has commanded the faster to observe Ramadhan fast breaking alms, one Sa'a, (a beaker, a unit of measurement about two kilos and forty grams) of dates, on a bondsman, a freeman, on every man and woman, young and old..."

This citation indicates that the eligible people, who should give these alms, are virtually every living Muslim, provided he or she possesses more than the prescribed amount of provisions, in such a way that, after giving alms, there will remain enough food for him and his family for at least 24 hours.

However, there is no obligation of these alms on the unborn fetus, unless the parents or the guardian wants to give on its behalf voluntary alms. The Leader of the Faithful, `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu) gave for the unborn.

Thus, it is incumbent on every able believer to give for himself, and for those that he is responsible for; wife and children, and next of kin if they cannot give for themselves. If they can give, it is better that they do so, because every believer is commanded to do so.

In the event that the person does not possess the amount, alms-giving is not mandatory. But, if he possesses half of the amount, it should be given.

Allah SWT states:

"So fear Allah as much as you can..." (Al-Qur’an 64:16)

And the Messenger of Allah (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said:

"If I command you with something, does it as much as you can."

Spiritual Reasons for These Alms

The wisdom behind this obligation is, among other things, to extend a benevolent helping hand to needy Muslims so that they will not have to beg from their fellow wealthier believers on this happiest occasion of the year in a Muslim's life - Ramadhan fast culminates with the festivity of ‘Eid Prayer.

On the other hand, it helps the faster cleanse his fast from any shortcoming, or un-Islamic act during Ramadhan. It is also to express gratitude to Allah for helping the servant live through another Ramadhan. In a hadith reported by Ibn Abbas (radiallāhu`anhu)  he said: "The Messenger of Allah  (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) has mandated the obligation of fast breaking alms as a cleanser of the faster from (what one may have done) mistakes or obscene acts, and to provide for the poor. Whoever gives it before ‘Eid prayer, it is accepted alms, but whoever gives it after Eid prayer, it is only a charity like any ordinary charity? ” (Abu Dawud)

What should be Given?

Unlike regular Zakat, the item recommended for giving is foodstuff: dates, wheat, barley, rice, oats, raisins, or any food stuff that can be stored naturally. Indeed, any type of food that is a staple in a given region of the vast Muslim world will do. If the staple is rice, you give rice, if it is dates or raisins; you give dates and raisins, etc.

In a Hadith related by Bukhari and Muslim, by the way of ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) , he said: "The Messenger of Allah  (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) has established the fast breaking alms of Ramadhan, sa'a, a beaker of dates, or a beaker of barley, and barley was then part of our food." This hadith has been corroborated by another report by Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri (radiallāhu`anhu) who said: "We used to give during the time of the Messenger (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) a sa'a, a beaker of food, and our food was barley, raisins, dry milk, and dates." (Bukhari)

Thus, for these alms, items like cloth, cash money or currency, furniture, dishes and general goods are not accepted by Allah.

A sa'a (beaker) equivalent will not do. In so much as nothing else will substitute for these alms as a medium of giving, the monetary equivalent of the cost of a staple food will not be acceptable. For giving money, instead of food, is contrary to what the Messenger (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) commanded. In a hadith, related by the mother of the believers, 'Aishah (radiallāhu`anha) the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "He who innovates something in this matter of ours that is not of it will have it rejected." (Bukhari and Muslim)

In Muslim's report of the hadith, the Messenger (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "He who does an act which our matter is not (in agreement) with will have it rejected." According to these two citations, to give money as Zakatul-Fitr is an innovation and not proper, nor is it in accord with the prescribed worship, 'Ibadah. Alms giving is an act of worship, prescribed for a special item, food at a special time, i.e., before Eid prayer. The opinion of giving a monetary equivalent is reported from Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullāh) who did not really have a proof, except Ijtihad. There is no Ijtihad where there is a text. After all, all the Imams, including Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullāh), Imam Shafi’e (rahimahullāh), Imam Malik (rahimahullāh), and Imam Ahmad (rahimahullāh) said:

"If they say something that contradicts the established command of the Messenger of Allah (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), their saying should be discarded."

Sometimes the advocates of money as a substitute for food make us think there was no money during the time of the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam). To the contrary, there was money currency known as "dirham" and "dinar." Giving monetary equivalents as fast breaking alms relegates this act to a secret charity, rather than alms given as a religious ceremony, which is to be observed publicly among the Muslims in a way that everybody in Muslim households, young and old, will participate in and bear witness to this extraordinary event of purchasing, weighing, and distributing food items among the needy faithful. This undoubtedly is one of the intents of the Lawgiver, a special cultural phenomenon unique to Islam and Muslims.

The evidence and wisdom behind giving food is more compelling than giving money. However, if the believer desires to help the needy more, giving money along with the prescribed food, is excellent and will be rewarded by Allah.

The Amount to be Given

As for the amount to be given, it is a sa'a, (a prophetic beaker) which is equal to about two kilos and forty grams. In pounds it is about five pounds per believer. If you want to know the prophetic sa'a, beaker, you weigh five pounds or two kilos and forty grams.

Put the weight in a beaker, jar or vessel and notice the level. You then use that as your sa'a to weigh the rest of your alms.

Better yet, a sa'a, can be purchased at a very reasonable price all over the Muslim world; if you happen to be in Makkah for Hajj or 'Umrah, you may purchase one or have someone who goes there to purchase it for you.

Time of Zakatul-Fitrah

Giving these alms is mandatory after sunset on the eve of ‘Eid ul - Fitr. If a Muslim expires seconds before sunset, it is not mandatory for his next of kin to give on his behalf. But if he expires seconds after sunset, alms should be given on his behalf. So is the case of the newly born.

As for the time it should be given, there are two time periods: The best and optional times. The best time is the morning of ‘Eid ul - Fitr before prayer. In a Hadith related by Ibn 'Umar (radiallāhu`anhu), the Messenger of Allah (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) commanded the Muslims to give alms when fast breaking people leave for Eid prayer. (Muslim)

In his commentary on the following verse, Ibn 'Uyainah (rahimahullāh) said: "But those will prosper who purify them (give alms) and glorify the name of their guardian Lord and pray."

He said: the word "tazakka", purify or giving alms, comes before the word "Solla", prayer. This is why it is better to delay ‘Eid ul-Fitr prayer so that the believers will have enough time to give their alms.

The optional time to give alms is one or two days before `Eid that is on the 28th and 29th day of Ramadhan. Legally, you have these three days to give your alms. But it should not be delayed past `Eid prayer. In that case, Zakatul-Fitr is not valid unless there is a reason, as mentioned earlier in the Hadith of Ibn Abbas (radiallāhu`anhu).

But if there is a compelling reason, such as ‘Eid occurring in a place where there is no food to be purchased, or the food is bought, but there is no one to receive it, or the news about Eid comes late in the morning and one does not have enough time to buy the alms, or he depends on someone to give his Zakat on his behalf, and the person forgets In these instances, the alms can be given after `Eid because of the valid excuse.

The alms should reach its recipients before ‘Eid prayer, not after. The beneficiaries should physically have it in their possession. If you intend to give alms to someone and he cannot be found, it should be given to someone else, so that you do not miss the time.

Place in Which Alms Should Be Given

The alms should be given in at the place where the Ramadhan ends for the faster, home or abroad. If you happen to be in Makkah, Medinah or Cairo you give it to the needy Muslims of that area.

If there are more poor Muslims in a given place, or there is no one who deserves the alms in your area, or you do not know anyone, you may deputize someone to give it on your behalf in a different country where Muslims are in need.

The Recipients of the Alms

The recipients of this Zakat are the needy Muslims and those in debt. They should be given according to their needs. In a hadith by Ibn `Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "Make them self sufficient on this day..." (Darqutni) It may be given to more than one needy person, or all may be given to one person.

[ Via MSA].


mohamed waheed said...

This is good work and really worth appreciation. After reading the article, I got few questions regarding the alms. I was wondering from long ago, who shall give fast breaking alms for me since I am here in Malaysia for study. I never ask my parent whether they give alms for me as from very first day they use to give alms including me. Now I am grown up, 25 year old and staying Malaysia for study. I question myself, whose responsibility is that to give alms for me. Is it my own or my parent responsibility. Pls share your understanding


Salam mohamed waheed,
If you are dependent, studying and not drawing any income I believe it is still your parents duty to pay alms..But the cost of alms in malaysia is very cheap RM4.70 per person if you wish to pay your own fitrah.


The 2nd scenario

Salam Waheed,
It is incumbent on every able believer to give for himself, and for those that he is responsible for. In the event that the person does not possess the amount, alms-giving is not mandatory. In Malaysia the rate of alms is cheap and affordable to all. The question is whether you can afford to pay it? If you can afford then you must pay.