Literally, fitr means breaking the fast or creation. The sadaqa al-fitr, however, is a financial obligation for Muslims who at the time of the Festivity of Ramadan, possess more than the prescribed amount of provisions for themselves and their dependents after giving the sadaqa al-fitr.
Sadaqa al-fitr is wajib (necessary) according to the Hanafi School, and fard (obligatory) according to other Islamic Schools of Jurisprudence. It is also called the “head zakat,” owing to the fact that it’s a financial responsibility for each person. As for its compulsoriness, technically, it is a display of gratitude upon the first day of the Festivity of Ramadan.
In many hadith, the Prophet of God has commanded the offering of sadaqa al-fitr. Ibn Umar, one of the Companions, conveyed the following: “The Messenger of God has decreed sadaqa al-fitr compulsory on slaves, men, women, children and adults as a measure of dates and of barley to be given before the eid prayer (the prayer marking the end of Ramadan).”2 Another narration in relation is that of Abu Said al-Hudri’s: “We had given sadaqa al-fitr at the time of the Prophet, from our provisions, which were, at the time, barley, raisins, dates and cheese.”3 I n another hadith, the following declaration can be cited, “Pay the sadaqa al-fitr on behalf of those under your guardianship.”4
The sadaqa al-fitr, as an established deed in Islam, is offered in gratitude for the blessings of life and the existence bestowed by the Creator on a person and on those under his or her care. Indeed, the compulsoriness of sadaqa al-fitr is not entailed by fasting; rather, it is compulsory for everyone, regardless of whether they fast or not.
As alluded to by the hadith, sadaqa al-fitr mends those ignoble actions, which are undesirable for all of us and quite unacceptable for those who fast, thus virtually completing the month of physical sacrifice while giving the poor grounds and means by which to join in the celebrations of Ramadan Eid.5 It has also been added that the offering of sadaqa al-fitr consolidates the acceptance of fasting, acquires salvation, and grants liberation from the anguish of death and the tribulations of the grave.
DOES SADAQA AL-FITR ENCOMPASS A GREATER AREA THAN THAT OF ZAKAT?
Sadaqa al-fitr, performed by obligation, encompasses a greater area than that of zakat and providentially is a means whereby everybody enjoys the opportunity to taste the heavenly flavor of spending in the way of God. In other words, it allows everyone a way of seeing and comprehending, first hand, the situation of the poor, as well as providing a chance for those with means to learn how to assist the poor without compromising their dignity. Consequently, a robust and permanent bridge of friendship is built between members of society.
Senturk, Omer Faruk. “Charity in Islam” Tughra Books Press. January 2007.
- December 16, 2013
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