Fitr means to break fast or to refrain from fasting. Hence the Eid after the fasts of Ramadhan is called Eid-ul-Fitr, as it is the day of rejoicing after the completion of fasting. On this occasion of happiness, as a sign of gratitude one has to give a specific amount in alms, which is called Sadaqatul-Fitr. To purify and obtain complete blessings for the fasts of Ramadhan Mubarak one has to give Sadaqatul-Fitr. It is reported from Ibn Abbas رضی اللہ تعالیٰ عنہ that Rasulullah ﷺ made charity of Fitr compulsory as a purification of fasts from useless talks and vain discourses and also as food for the poor . Thus it is wajib to give Sadaqatul-Fitr to purify one’s fast.
Another objective in giving Sadaqatul-Fitr on this happy occasion is also to assist the poor and needy, so that they may rejoice with the more fortunate. Once Rasulullah ﷺ sent a proclaimer through the streets of Madinah to proclaim, “Beware, charity of Fitr is wajib on every Muslim, male or female, free or slave, young or old – two ‘mudds’ (measures) of wheat, or its equivalent, or one Sa’a’ (measure) from food crops”. To distribute a specific amount of money, barley, dates etc, on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr is Wajib. This giving of alms to the poor and needy on this auspicious day is called Sadaqatul-Fitr. Rasulullah ﷺ instructed the giving of Sadaqatul-Fitr, in the same year (2A.H.). Fasting in Ramadhan was made compulsory. The reasons for giving Sadaqatul-Fitr are :-
Sadaqatul Fitr is compulsory which becomes payable on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. If one did not do so – it remains due no matter how much time passes after Eid.
Sadaqatul-Fitr (or Fitrah) is wajib (compulsory) upon all Muslims – men, women and children who on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr are owners of the Nisab of Zakaah.
Fitrah becomes wajib when the day of Fitr dawns with the commencement of Fajr. Therefore, if someone died before entry of Fajr on the day of Eid, Fitrah will not be paid out of his (the deceased’s) estate, since this Fitrah is not wajib on him. And, if a child is born before the rising of Fajr, Fitrah will be paid on his behalf. If the child is born after the entry of Fajr (on the day of Eid), Fitrah is not wajib on his behalf. The father has to pay the Fitrah on behalf of his under age children, i.e. those who have not attained the age of puberty. It is not obligatory upon the husband to pay Fitrah on behalf of his wife. If she is the owner of Nisaab, she shall have to pay her own Fitrah.
The Fitrah should preferably be paid before the Eid salaah. It is not permissible to delay the payment of Fitrah later than the day of Eid. However, if it was not paid on the day of Eid or before, the obligation remains and the Fitrah will have to be paid. It is permissible to pay the Fitrah in advance at any time during the month of Ramadhan. The Fitrah could be paid even before Ramadhan. Sadaqatul-Fitr is wajib upon all those who fasted as well as those who did not fast for some reason or other.
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