Author: Hong Kong Islamic Youth Association
Literally, fitr means breaking the fast or creation. The sadaqa al-fitr, however, is a financial obligation for Muslims who at the times of the Festivity of Ramadan, possess more than the prescribed amount of provisions for themselves and their dependents after giving the sadaqa al-fitr.
Sadaqa al-fitr is wajib (necessary) according to the Hanafi School, and fard (obligatory) according to other Islamic Schools of Jurisprudence. It is also called the “head zakat”, owing to the fact that it’s a financial responsibility for each person. As for its compulsoriness, technically, it is a display of gratitude upon the first day of the Festivity of Ramadan.
In the books of Hadith, the beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of God be upon him) has commanded the offering of sadaqa al-fitr, Ibn Umar (God be pleased with him), one of the Companions, conveyed the following:
“The Messenger of God has decreed sadaqa al-fitr compulsory on slaves, men, women, children and adults as a measure of dates and of barley to be given before Eid prayer (the prayer marking the end of Ramadan).”
Another narration in relation is that of Abu Said al-Hudri’s (God be pleased with him):
“We had given sadaqa al-Fitr at the time of the Prophet, from our provisions, which were, at the time, barley, raisins, dates and cheese.”
In another Hadith, the following declaration can be cited.
“Pay the sadaqa al-Fitr on behalf of those under your guardianship.”
The sadaqa al-fitr, as an established deed in Islam, is offered in gratitude for the blessings of life and the existence bestowed by the Creator on a person and on those under his or her care. Indeed, the compulsoriness of sadaqa al-fitr is not entailed by fasting; rather, it is compulsory for everyone, regardless of whether they fast or not.
As alluded to by the Hadith, sadaqa al-fitr mends those ignoble actions, which are underitable for all of us and quite unacceptable for those who fast, thus virtually completing the month of physical sacrifice while giving the poor grounds and means by which to join in the celebrations of Eid al-fitr. It has also been added that the offering of sadaqa al-fitr consolidates the acceptance of fasting, acquires salvation, and grants liberation from the anguish of death and the tribulations of the grave.