As mentioned before in the hadiths, sadaqa al-fitr had been given during the time of the Noble Prophet from the most common foodstuffs like dates, barley and raisins, in the amount of 1 sa’a (a measurement equivalent to 3.350 kg). In addition, it has been narrated that the companions gave a half a sa’a of wheat as sadaqa al-fitr.
Assessing the accounts stated above, scholars have identified the type and amount of sadaqa al-fitr as follows.The Hanafi School maintains that sadaqa al-fitr can be given from four items of nutrition, namely, wheat, barley, date and raisins, including half a sa’a from wheat, including its flour, and one sa’a from the others. According to Shafii Scholars, fitr is given as one sa’a from all kinds of grain, dates and raisins, although at best, sadaqa al-fitr should be given from the most consumed food item in that particular area or country.
This is the information cited in the classical texts of jurisprudence. However, when scrutinizing the application of sadaqa al-fitr during the era of the Prophet (upon whom be peace), and keeping in mind its nature and purpose, it becomes evident that fitr, then given as one sa’a, is commensurable with the daily sustenance of the poor. Moreover, what had been offered as fitr were the society’s basic items of consumption. Therefore, sadaqa al-fitr must have been aimed towards covering the daily (day-night) sustenance of the poor, keeping in mind the social standards at that time. Therefore, it can be argued that in our day, it is no longer sufficient to p a y sadaqa al-fitr from the listed foodstuffs in the mentioned amounts. In line with these considerations, current Muslim scholars hold the view that the following standards should, instead, be taken as essential criterions in determining sadaqa al-fitr.
First, it is important to calculate the monetary average of one sa’a of wheat, barley, dates and raisins in their entirety, whereby the amount is ascertained according to the diverse quality and value of each item, a practice that will prevent inconsistent calculations between Muslims. It is imperative that the adequate amount of daily sustenance per person is taken as a measure, and this amount must not be of lesser value that the food items enumerated in the hadith. Insofar as the true meaning of sadaqa al-fitr is concerned, it is more fitting to determine the daily sustenance according to the social standard of the benefactor rather than the recipient. The Qur’anic declaration pertaining to the compensation of unfulfilled vows bolsters this approach: “…the expiation thereof is the feeding of the needy with average of that which you feed your own people.” (Maidah 5:89)
Furthermore, the measured amount of sadaqa al-fitr indicated in various hadith and transmitted in jurisprudential texts is the bare minimum. The real gist of sadaqa al-fitr, as alluded to by the Prophet (upon whom be peace) is to prevent the poor, on Eid day, from imploring from others— and to include them, with dignity—in the celebrations of the day.6 The benefactor must, therefore, determine the amount of sadaqa al-fitr, in money, which is required for daily sustenance according to his own economic condition and social standards.
This may be calculated as such: monthly kitchen expenditures are divided by 30, then by the amount of family members; the result will indicate one person’s average daily expenses for sustenance within a particular household, the amount to be given as sadaqa al-fitr. It is better, however, for Muslims who are financially comfortable to offer even more. God knows best.
Senturk, Omer Faruk. “Charity in Islam” Tughra Books Press. January 2007.
- December 16, 2013
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