Zakat Fitrah an obligation for Muslims

25 Mar 2024 11:40am
Photo for illustration purposes only.
Photo for illustration purposes only.

SHAH ALAM – The obligation to pay zakat fitrah (obligatory alms) is incumbent upon every Muslim before Eid al-Fitr prayers begin, requiring Muslims to fulfil it immediately.

Former minister in the prime minister's department (religious affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri said zakat fitrah entailed specific conditions that must be met for its obligation.

This, he said included being a Muslim, possessing the financial means to pay and arrival of the stipulated payment time.

"Zakat has the power to provide sustenance and various other benefits to the less fortunate, thereby bringing solace to their lives.

"It is incumbent upon Muslims to fulfill their obligation of zakat without delay, as it is not merely a right of the needy but also an obligation upon us," he said during the "Sembang Ramadan: Tanya Je Ustaz" programme at the Karangkraf Group Complex, here.

The programme was hosted Amin Idris.

Zulkifli said zakat came into existence as an obligatory alms in the second year of the Hijrah emphasising its obligatory nature alongside fasting throughout Ramadan.

He cited a hadith which quoted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) saying "Ibn Umar said that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) prescribed the payment of Zakat-ul-Fitr (on breaking the fast) of Ramadan for people, for every freeman, or slave, male and female among the Muslims-one sa' of dried dates, or one sa' of barley."

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He said Zakat served to rectify, cleanse and purify fasting individuals offering a means to cover any deficiencies or weaknesses experienced during the fasting period.

Recalling his time studying in Saudi Arabia, Zulkifli shared how there was a tradition of bringing wheat and other goods on festive occasions to meet the needs of others.

These items, he said could be bought and distributed directly to the needy.

However, he said in Malaysia, zakat affairs were managed by trustees (amil), who oversee the distribution of zakat to the designated zakat institution or centre in each state.

He also addressed the question about whether Zakat was mandatory for pregnant women in which he clarified that it was not, as the obligation was tied to individuals who are alive and present in life.

However, he explained that if the birth happened before sunset, typically around 4pm or 5 pm before Eid, then it becomes obligatory for the parents of the newborn to pay zakat on behalf of the child.

Conversely, if the birth occured on the night of Eid, around 8.30pm, then there is no obligation to pay Zakat for the newborn, he said.

Zakat constitutes a specific portion of wealth that must be given by every Muslim meeting the prescribed conditions.

As one of the pillars of Islam, Zakat is allocated to eligible recipients (asnaf).