Error One: Paying at Eid
Some people go to Eid and drop money into the donation box thinking they had paid their Zakat ul-Fitr.
No! Zakat ul-Fitr, which is paid in form of food must be in the hands of the needy BEFORE the Eid prayer.
Error Two: Snail mailing the money overseas
Basic principle as before: the Zakat ul-Fitr, food, MUST be in the hands of the needy BEFORE Eid prayer. One cannot mail the money overseas and have it arrive in hands of the needy after Eid prayer is over. However, if one is able to get the Zakah al-Fitr to the needy overseas BEFORE Eid prayer is conducted in their locality, then insha Allah it’s alright.
Error Three: Not paying
Yes, as simple as this error is, it is HARAM to skip the payment of Zakat ul-Fitr if you are able.
Error Four: Confusing Zakat ul-Fitr with Zakat ul-Maal
We are talking about Zakat al-Fitr here (think “Iftar”, i.e. Ramadan). Zakat Al-Maal (Maal literally means wealth), is the Zakah due on one’s money – and that could be due any time during the year depending on when it was due.
Error Five: Giving money instead of food
Although some scholars have allowed giving money instead of food, the spirit of Zakat ul-Fitr is to give food to the needy of the community, NOT money. The Companion of the Prophet (SAW), Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree (radi Allahu ‘anhu), said: “In the Prophet’s time, we used to give it (Zakatal-Fitr) as food, dried dates, barley, raisins or dried cheese”.
Error Six: Giving one’s Zakah al-Fitr to a charitable building project
Some people mistakenly give their Zakah Al-Fitr to a charitable building project: like the building of a Masjid, or Islamic school. There is a difference of opinion on this issue, but suffice it to say that the spirit of Zakah Al-Fitr is that the needy should have plentiful food on Eid.
All eight types of recipients of Zakah mentioned in the Quran are HUMANS, not “building projects”.
Error Seven: Giving Zakat ul-Fitr to non-Muslims
Charity is given to both Non-Muslims and Muslims. However, Zakah al-Fitr charity is something exclusive to the MUSLIM: poor and needy. Hence, one could not give Zakah Al-Fitr to any needy person on the street. “Regular” charity can be given to them, but not Zakah Al-Fitr.
Error Eight: Delaying distribution
Sometimes Masjids might collect Zakah Al-Fitr money and then put it in a bank. It doesn’t reach the needy for months and months. The correct method is to give Zakah Al-Fitr immediately when it is due.
Written by Muhammad Alshareef