Q: What are the differences between Zakat and Zakat al Fitr?
A: Zakat al Fitr (or Sadaqat al Fitr) is a duty that is paid on the occasion of Eid al Fitr and is required of every Muslim, whether male or female, minor or adult, if the total value of his/her Zakatable assets (cash, gold, silver, merchandise) plus non-essential items (i.e. assets above his basic needs) minus liabilities (debts) equals or exceeds Nisab. A father must also pay on behalf of his pre-pubescent children if they do not have their own wealth equal to the Nisab. If they have their own wealth equal to the Nisab, they can pay their Zakat al Fitr from their own wealth. The head of the household may pay the required amount for the other family members. In terms of amounts, it is advisable to contact your local mosque and get them to give you the recommended amount to pay per head.
The first difference between Zakat and Zakat al Fitr is eligibility. All Muslims must pay Zakat al Fitr regardless of their age or financial status (unless they honestly do not have the means to do so. The second difference lies in the amount due. The amount attributed to Zakat al Fitr is very small, and rarely exceeds £5. Zakat, however, can amount to a larger number because its 2.5% of all net savings.
The third and final difference lies in their due dates. Zakat can be paid at any time, with the only condition being that the earnings reflect one year’s worth of net savings (one lunar year). Zakat al Fitr , however, goes hand in hand with Ramadan. Zakat al Fitr is paid during Ramadan before the month ends. It needs to be paid before the Eid prayers at the very latest. This is a very specific time frame that all Muslims must abide to.
And Allah knows best!
Mufti Faraz Adam