The time of paying Zakat-ul-Fitr

Q 1: Does the time that Zakatul-Fitr (obligatory charity paid before the Festival of Breaking the Fast) is due begin after offering the `Eid Salah (Prayer) and end at the end of that day?

A: The time that Zakatul-Fitr is due does not begin after the `Eid Salah. It begins after sunset of the last day of Ramadan, marking the first night of Shawwal, and ends with the `Eid Salah. This is based on the fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered it to be paid before the `Eid Salah. To the same effect, Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) reported the Prophet (peace be upon him) to have said: If anyone pays it before the Salah (of `Eid), it will be accepted as Zakah. If anyone pays it after the Salah, that will be a Sadaqah (charity) like other Sadaqahs. However, it may be paid two or three days before that time based on the Hadith in which Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with both of them) is reported to have said: The Prophet (peace be upon him) imposed Sadaqatul-Fitr in Ramadan. He said at the end of the Hadith, "They used to pay it a day or two in advance." Thus, whoever delays paying it is sinful and has to repent to Allah and pay it to the poor. (Part No. 9; Page No. 374) May Allah grant us success. May blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions!