The spirit of Ramadan is one of empathy and love for your Muslim brothers and sisters. We spend an entire month abstaining from food and drinks so that we can feel the pain of those Muslims brethren who sometimes go days without these basic necessities.
The holy month of Ramadan culminates in Eid-ul-Fitr – a celebration and reward for an entire month of patience and brotherliness. For the poor and needy to be included in this celebration, each Muslim is under an obligation to pay a certain amount in kind or in food, which is known as Fitrana.
According to an agreed upon hadith:
“None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” (Bukhari: 13, Muslim: 5)
This hadith is a testament that in addition to fulfilling certain obligations to Allah, a Muslim also has to cater to his fellow brothers and sisters. This is why it is only a fair demand on part of the wealthy, to expect them to set aside a certain amount for those who are unable to afford the little things in life. Islam is a religion of inclusivity and therefore, at this joyous occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, it is important they those who are not as blessed as the rest of us, should also be able to be a part of this blissful occasion.
When to give Fitrana?
The payment of Fitrana becomes obligatory after the sunset on the evening of the last fast of Ramadan. Once the moon of Shawwal is sighted, each person who is obliged to pay Fitrana, must pay it forward, before the Eid day.
Who should give Fitrana?
People who have reached puberty, are sane, not needy and poor should pay Fitrana. If a family has one breadwinner and 6 dependents, he should pay for each one of his dependents.
How much to pay?
Each year there is a set amount that needs to be given, it fluctuates due to the changing socio-economic conditions. Fitrana is measured as three and a half kilogram of wheat, barley, rice or any staple edible item for each person. If you don’t want to pay in terms of food, one can also pay in cash. The amount of money is settled through a conversion of the three and a half kilos of food into money.
Who deserves it?
One can distribute money to the deserving people and the preference for Fitrana should be as follows: relatives, poor neighbors, the needy in general and the collectors of Zakat. Keep in mind that non-Muslims are not deserving of Fitrana and one should be weary of who they are giving to.
Why should you pay Fitrana?
In the spirit of inclusivity and sharing, one should pay Fitrana to the deserving parties.According to a hadith narrated by Abu Musa:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “When the people of Ash’ari tribe ran short of food during the holy battles, or the food of their families in Medina ran short, they would collect all their remaining food in one sheet and then distribute it among themselves equally by measuring it with a bowl. So, these people are from me, and I am from them”. (Bukhari 3:44:666)
If during times of need each Muslim is expected to help fellow Muslims out, one should also remember to include these brethren in times of joy. It is solely for this reason that one should never forget to pay Fitrana. Even a little bit can make a difference in the lives of others.