Giving Zakat-ul-Fitr to charitable societies

Giving Zakat-ul-Fitr to charitable societies Fatwa no. 13231 All praise be to Allah Alone, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family and Companions. To proceed:The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’ has examined (Part No. 9; Page No. 378) the Fatwa request submitted to His Eminence the Chairman by the Chairman of the Board of Al-Bir Society in Jeddah stating:Al-Bir Society in Jeddah, registered at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs under no. 62 dated 6/3/1404 A.H., practices some social services; the most important thereof are the following:1-Maintaining orphans, children of unknown parents, and children of special circumstances, as those whose mothers are jailed or suffering from a mental illness or a chronic disease. Maintenance includes both genders, males and females, and is a complete educational integrated lodging.2-Maintaining needy families through providing financial and educational aid, after a thorough investigation carried out on scientific, objective bases by experienced or qualified male and female social researchers. This is followed by continuous observation from time to time to monitor and take care of positive or negative changes that may happen to beneficiary families.The society currently cares for around 200 children and more than 600 families. It also offers school aid to about 1000 male and female students. Moreover, in case the resources of the society improve, it is expected (by the Will of Allah) that its new orphanage maintains 500 children, and the number of families receiving assistance increase. The same also applies to school aid. The society obtains its resources from payments of Zakah (obligatory charity), endowments, donations, and wills, in addition to member subscriptions. (Part No. 9; Page No. 279) The society considers collecting Zakat-ul-Fitr (obligatory charity paid before the Festival of Breaking the Fast), whether directly paid as foodstuff or turned into foodstuff by the society on behalf of those who pay it in cash - after the pattern of the meats given as Ud-hiyah (sacrificial animal offered by non-pilgrims), Hady (sacrificial animal offered by pilgrims) or Fidyah (ransom) - before the Prayer of ‘Eid-ul-Fitr (the Festival of Breaking the Fast). Is it permissible for the society to distribute such foodstuffs eventually in accordance with the need of its maintained beneficiaries? We wish that Your Eminence will issue a Fatwa in this regard so that we may proceed in this charitable enterprise.

The Committee gave the following answer: The society must distribute Zakat-ul-Fitr to its deserving recipients before ‘Eid Prayer. It is not permissible to delay paying it beyond the prescribed time limit, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered it be given to the poor before ‘Eid Prayer. The society is regarded as the agent acting on behalf of the Zakah payer. Thus, the society may receive only the amount of Zakat-ul-Fitr that it can distribute to the poor before ‘Eid Prayer. Moreover, it is not permissible to pay Zakat-ul-Fitr in cash. The Shar‘y (Islamic legal) evidence indicates that it is obligatory to pay it as foodstuff. The Shar‘y evidence should not be abandoned for the opinion of some person. As to the case in which the Zakah payers give money to the society to buy with it foodstuff for the poor, it must do so before ‘Eid Prayer. It may not give the money as Zakat-ul-Fitr. (Part No. 9; Page No. 380) May Allah grant us success. May blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions.