Delaying zakat ul-fitr
Our organization collects zakat ul-fitr and distributes it among deserving recipients. Its distribution ended by midnight of the eve of 'Eid ul-Fitr but people continued to deposit their zakat and by 'Eid prayers, we had 6000 LE in zakat funds. What should we do with this sum? Should we buy a sacrificial animal and distribute its meat among the poor or should we distribute the money among them?
The majority from among the Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali scholars maintain, as does al-Hasan ibn Ziad, the Hanafi scholar, that the obligatory time for paying zakat ul-fitr is restricted. Therefore, whoever gives it out after sunset of the day of 'Eid without an excuse is blameworthy and must make it up (by paying it late). The majority of Hanafi scholars maintain that the obligatory time for giving out zakat ul-fitr is unrestricted because the command for paying it is not limited. Therefore, paying it at any time does not necessitate making it up. However, it is recommended to give it out before going to 'Eid prayer.
Scholars concur that Zakat ul-Fitr is not waived if its prescribed time elapses because it is a financial obligation upon one who is eligible; it is therefore a debt that is not waived except by its performance.
Sheikh al-Bajuri, a Shafi'i scholar, wrote: "It is permissible to pay it—i.e. zakat ul-Fitr at the beginning of the month of Ramadan but it is recommended to do so before 'Eid Prayer (if the 'Eid prayer was held early in the day) following the example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him); otherwise, it is recommended to pay it at the beginning of the day (of ‘Eid). It is disliked to delay giving it out until the end of the day of 'Eid i.e. before sunset, and prohibited to give it out after that time. In this respect, zakat ul-fitr is unlike zakat ul-Mal which is permissible to delay provided this does not cause hardship upon the recipients."
Sins depend upon a person's choice, intent or ability; therefore, the majority of scholars maintain that whoever was unable or forgot to pay it on time must make it up, but according to Hanafi scholars, he is to give it out when he remembers or is able to and is not blameworthy.
Based on this, the sum of money in the charity box must be paid at once in cash to its deserving recipients and you are not to buy anything for them out of this sum.
God Almighty knows best.