Giving out zakat ul-fitr in money format
Is it permissible to give out zakat ul-Fitr in money format?
It is permissible to give out one’s zakat ul-fitr in money format, as this is the position of a group of jurists who can be followed in their legal reasoning. It is also one of the opinions of the followers of the companions amongst whom were:
-Al-Hasan al-Basri; he said, “There is nothing wrong in giving out dirhams for your fitr charity.”
-Ishaq al-Sabi; he is narrated by Zuhayr as saying, “I saw people giving out their fitr charity in dirhams worth their foods.”
- Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz; he said that the fitr charity is “half a sa’ for every person or its worth in dirhams.” This is also the opinion of al-Thawri, Abu Hanifa, and Abu Yusuf.
Giving out one’s fitr charity in money is the opinion of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence and is the opinion used by them in issuing fatwas regarding all zakat issues. This is also the opinion of al-Nasir and al-Muayid Billah from the Zaydi School. This opinion has also been given by Ishaq Ibn Rahiwih and Abu Thawr except that they said it should only be applied in circumstances of necessity.
This is also the opinion of a group of jurists from the Maliki School such as Ibn Habib, Asbagh, Ibn Abi Hazim, Ibn Dinar, and Ibn Wahb which they applied to both the zakat of fitr and the general zakat on money. However, what has been narrated from Ibn Qasim and Ashhab is that this is permissible in charity except in the charity of zakat and expiation of oaths.
Based on this, it is clear that a good portion of jurists are of the view that it is permissible to pay one’s fitr zakat in money format and this was during their medieval context where bartering was common and possible with foodstuffs. In our time, however, what is used to barter is money and therefore the opinion that allows zakat ul-fitr to be paid in money is more appropriate. We could go as far as to say that if the jurists opposing this view lived during our time they would have permitted it.
It is also clear that paying zakat in money format is better for the poor in that they can buy whatever they need on that particular day. It is possible that they are in need of clothes and not a certain foodstuff for example.
The basis upon which zakat ul-fitr is religiously sanctioned is to benefit the poor during that day which all Muslims are to enjoy. The notable scholar Ahmad ibn Siddiq al-Ghumari has written treaties on this issue Tahqiq al-Amal fi Ikhraj Zakat al-Fitr bi al-Mal in which he gave preference to the Hanafi opinion using many text proofs , reaching thirty-two. Therefore, we give preference to the Hanafi opinion maintaining the permissibility of giving out zakat ul-fitr in money format as it is most appropriate to our time.
And God Almighty knows best.