Ramadhan and Zakat Al -Fitr [Archives:1998/02/Law & Diplomacy]

January 12 1998

Ismail Al-Ghabiri, Yemen Times
As the Islamic world is fasting through the last days of Ramadhan, one important obligation still remains to be performed, which is Zakat Al-Fitr. The Arabic word Zakat Al-Fitr, is the break–fast charity, that should be given by or on behalf of every member of the Muslim family. It is prescribed by prophet Mohammed (P) to be paid by every fasting person and every member of household who owns one day’s food for himself and his family on the eve of Eid Al-Fitr. God Al-Mightily said on Zakat in the Holy Qura’an “of their goods take alms that the mightiest purify and sanctify them; and pray on their behalf. Verily their prayers are a source of security for them; and God is who heareth and knoweth.”
Zakat Al-Fitr is equal to 5 kg of wheat, dates, or rice or the monetary equivalent. It should be paid before performing Eid prayers, otherwise, it will be considered as a regular charity instead. Zakat Al-Fitr serves as a spiritual purification of fasting Muslim and as a material assistance for the poor and destitute. According to the prophet Mohammed (P), blessings be upon him, Zakat Al-Fitr wipes out wrong doings that may have spoiled the purity of fasting. It is better given on the last day of Ramadhan or any time before the Eid prayer. The purpose of this timing is that people who receive Zakat Al-Fitr experience the happiness of the Eid, just like rich people do.
Zakat Al-Fitr is an obligation for Muslims in the same way other regular Zakat on funds is. God Al-Mighty says in the Qura’an, “It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the last day, in the Angels, in the Book and the Messengers; to spend of your material wealth, out love for him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient in pain or suffering and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.” During the reign of the Imam in northern Yemen, Zakat was levied in a harsh manner. This was one of the causes of popular uprisings against that defunct regime. The republican regime later on made the estimation of Zakat a voluntary concern for each individual. Yemeni businessmen are now trying to abolish the obligatory levying of Zakat, and leave it to the discretion of each individual to give directly to the needy.