Subject : Islamic Ruling on Giving Zakat al-Fitr as Meat
Fatwa Number : 3814
Date : 10-10-2023
Classified : "Fiter Zakat "Alms paid in Ramadan
Fatwa Type : Search Fatawaa

Question :

Is it permissible to give Zakat al-Fitr as meat (beef or chicken)?  If permissible, what is the specific amount?

The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

Zakat al-Fitr is prescribed on the fasting person to purify them from any indecent act or speech and to provide food for the needy. Ibn ’Abbas (RAA) narrated, ‘The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) enjoined Zakat-ul-fitr on the one who fasts (i.e. fasted during the month of Ramadan) to purify him from any indecent act or speech and for the purpose of providing food for the needy. {Related by Abu Dawud}.

The obligatory amount for Zakat al-Fitr is one Sa'a of wheat, barley, dates, raisins, rice, or a similar staple food that is commonly consumed in the region. This is based on the following narrations: Ibn ’Umar (RAA) narrated, The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) enjoined the payment of one sa” of dates or one sa' of barley as Zakat-ul-fitr on every Muslim, slave or free, male or female, young or old, and he ordered that it be paid before the people went out to offer the 'Id prayer.’" {Related by Bukhari}. Abu Sa'id al-Khudri said, “We used to bring forth as the zakat on breaking the fast of Ramadan a sa’ of grain, or of barley, or of dried dates, or of cheese, or of raisins." {Related by Bukhari}.

Muslims can choose from these staple foods according to their ability and capacity. The predominant staple foods can vary from one region to another. Zakat al-Fitr should be given from the best and most excellent among these staple foods. The scholars of the Shafi'i school of thought have emphasized this point. As mentioned in {Al-Muhadhab, Vol.1, Page 304}: "Zakat al-Fitr should be given from the predominant staple food of the land because it is a right related to sustenance. It is obligatory to give Zakat al-Fitr from the predominant staple food, just as it is done in expiation (kaffara). If someone moves from one place to another, they should consider the predominant staple food of the new place they have moved to. If the new place has a better quality or more abundant staple food, they should give from that. However, if it is of lower quality or less abundant, they should not give from it. If the people of the region consume various types of staple foods, and no one type is significantly more prevalent than the others, it is recommended to give from the best among them."

The Shafi'i school of thought does not allow giving Zakat al-Fitr as meat, even if people in the region consider it part of the staple food. This is because it is not typically consumed as a staple food. This ruling is supported by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, a prominent Islamic scholar, who stated: "There is no difference in these mentioned items, whether for the people of the countryside or the city, if they have their staple food, which does not include meat, whey (a type of dairy product), or cheese. If these items are considered part of the staple food in the region, they should not be used for Zakat al-Fitr due to the absence of customary consumption" [Tuhfat al-Muhtaj, Sharh al-Minhaj, Vol. 3, Page 321].

If there is a lack of staple food in a particular region, then those who do not have enough to pay Zakat al-Fitr should give it from the staple food of the nearest place where there is sufficiency. Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, a respected Islamic scholar, stated: "Those who do not have enough should give Zakat al-Fitr from the staple food of the nearest place where there is sufficiency" [Tuhfat al-Muhtaj, Vol.3, Page 321].

According to the Hanafi scholars, it is permissible to give Zakat al-Fitr as meat because they allowed giving Zakat al-Fitr in the form of money (value) to make it easier for people and to better serve the interests of the poor. This view is supported by Imam Alaa al-Din al-Kasani, who said: "It is permissible to give the value (money) for all the common staple foods – such as wheat, barley, dates, raisins – or whatever one chooses. This is our position... In reality, the obligation is to enrich the poor, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, 'Enrich them against asking for help on a day like this.' Enrichment is achieved through the value, which is actually more complete and effective, as it is closer to fulfilling the need. It is clear from this that the text is conditioned by the concept of enrichment" [Bada'i al-Sana'i, Vol.2, Page 73]. The value to be given is usually the equivalent of half a Sa' of wheat, which is approximately 1625 grams. Imam Al-Sarakhsi mentioned: "If he gives the value of wheat, it is permissible according to our school" [Al-Mabsut, Vol. 3, Page  107].

The Maliki school of thought specifies nine types of staple foods for Zakat al-Fitr. If any one of these items is available, it is obligatory to give that specific item, and giving something else is not acceptable, even if it is preferred by the recipient. These nine items are wheat, barley, salṭ (a type of barley without husks), dates, raisins, dried yoghurt, corn, chickpeas, and rice. If these specific items are not available, then it is permissible to give meat for Zakat al-Fitr. Imam Shihab al-Din al-Nafrawi, a prominent Maliki scholar, mentioned: "If none of these items are available, then it is obligatory to give the equivalent of the sa' of wheat in weight from any other available staple food, even if it is meat or oil. However, it should be given in the quantity of wheat that makes up the sa', as wheat is the most common staple food" [Al-Fawakih al-Dawani, Vol.1, Page 348].

In conclusion, according to the Shafie Madhab, it is not permissible to give Zakat al-Fitr as meat. However, the Hanafi School allows it without restrictions, while the Maliki School permits it with the condition that the specified staple foods are not available. Therefore, it is best not to give it as meat according to the Shafi'i school, but if one follows a different school that permits it as meat, their opinion is valid. And Allah the Almighty knows best.






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