Eid Al-Fitr

The final installment of the TMM Ramadan Series. This is a simple how-to guide about zakat al-fitr that every Muslim needs to know.

We are nearing the end of Ramadan so this is the time you should reflect on how you did this month. Were you striving to uphold the Ramadan etiquettes the whole month, or did you fall short? If your Ramadan was perfect then thank and praise Allah and if your Ramadan was something less than perfect then seek His forgiveness in these last remaining days.

Allah, in his ultimate mercy, legislated zakat al-fitr at the end of this blessed month to give the Muslim a means to make up for whatever bad deeds he most surely committed during Ramadan. Ibn Abbas said:

“The Messenger of Allah obligated zakat al-fitr as a purification for the faster for any idle speech and inappropriate acts and to feed the poor, so whoever performs it before the prayer then the zakat will be accepted and whoever performs it after the prayer then it is a general charity.” (Ibn Majah, and Abu Dawud)

Zakat al-fitr is obligatory upon every Muslim male, female, adult and child according to the majority of scholars.

The zakat should be paid in the form of a staple food that is storable. The Sahabah used to give dates or barley, because they were staple food items for them at that time. Today it might be more appropriate to give rice, oatmeal, cereal, etc, depending on the food of the people in the area that you live.

Some of the Salaf, such as Abu Hanifah, Sufyan Ath-Thawree, Al-Hasan Al-Basree, and others were of the opinion that it is permissible to give the equivalent in money, but this opposes the clear hadith and the actions of the Sahabah.

The amount to be given is 1 saa’ per person in the family. A saa’ is a volumetric measurement equivalent to about 3 litres. Different grains have different weights so the best thing to do is weigh 3 litres of the food item you intend to give and then use that weight as a guide to how much you need to buy and disperse.

The following are the weights of common food items per person:

Rice = 82.5oz

Oatmeal = 40.5oz

Grits = 75oz

Cereal (Cheerios) = 12oz

So for example if you have a wife and two children (4 people total) and you want to give rice then the amount would be:

4 x 82.5 = 330oz or 20.6 lbs of rice.

The best time to distribute the zakat al-fitr is the morning of the Eid, before the prayer, but it is permissible to distribute it up to 2 days before.

The zakat al-fitr should be distributed to the poor people and the people who have debts they are unable to pay in the area that you live.

You can give your zakat to just one person or to a number of different people. It is also permissible for a group of people to give zakat to just one person.

It is also permissible for the poor person to take the zakat al-fitr given to him and give it out to someone else if they want the reward of giving zakat.

 

I ask Allah to accept all our fasts and bless us with a joyous Eid.

 

**UPDATE**

A simple method of working out the amount needed for zakat al-fitr if you live in America is to look at the “Nutrition Facts” label on the back. It usually shows the serving size in cups and the amount of servings in the container. A saa’ works out to be about 13 cups, so work out how many cups in the container then work out how many containers you will need to make 13 cups.

For example:

Nutrition label

The label shows that a serving is 1/3 of a cup and there are 11 servings, therefore

11 x 1/3 = 3 2/3 cups in this container

So to make 13 cups we will need about 3 1/2 boxes of this food item. So either round up to 4 boxes or find a box that is 1/2 the size of this container.

Ramadan Etiquettes

This is the second installment of the TMM Ramadan Series that discusses the obligatory and preferred etiquettes of the fast and Ramadan.

The etiquettes of Ramadan and fasting are of two types: obligatory etiquettes and preferred etiquettes. If the obligatory etiquettes are not observed then your fast may not be accepted, but if the preferred etiquettes are not observed then it does not diminish your fast, but you will have missed out on extra rewards.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:

“Whoever does not abstain from lies and ignorant conduct, Allah has no need for him to abstain from his food and drink.” (Al-Bukhari)

Jabir (radiallahu anhu) said:

“If you fast then let your ears, your eyes, and your tongue fast from lying and sins; refrain from upsetting your neighbor; act dignified and calm; and don’t let your day of fasting be spent the same way you spend your day not fasting.

Here the Prophet ﷺ and his noble companion are referring to some of the obligatory etiquettes of Ramadan, and that is to perform your obligations as a Muslim and to keep away from sins.

The first and foremost obligation for the Muslim is to pray the five daily prayers, because it is the most important of the 5 pillars of Islam after the Shahadah. So the Muslim man must perform the prayer with all of its pillars, obligations, and conditions. One of the most important conditions of the prayer is that each prayer is prayed in its allotted time, so you cannot go to sleep during the day with the intention of waking up just before it is time to break fast and then pray Thuhr, and Asr together. Those prayers will not be accepted, Allah, the Most High, said:

“Indeed, the prayer has been decreed for the believers (to be performed) at specified times.” (An-Nisa:103)

Some fasters during Ramadan may even leave off the obligatory prayers for the supererogatory prayers by abandoning the 5 daily prayers, but performing the Tarawih prayers every night. Tarawih can be the highlight of Ramadan and I certainly don’t want to discourage people from praying it, but the Tarawih is sunnah, meaning that if you don’t do it there is no sin upon you, but the 5 daily prayers, on the other hand, are wajib, meaning that if you don’t do them then you are sinning, and in this case it is one of the worst of the major sins.

The Muslim man should also refrain from the sins of the tongue, because they are very easy to fall into and can be extremely serious in terms of their punishment. An example of a sin of the tongue is lying, the worst of which is to lie on Allah and His Prophet ﷺ, Allah, the Most High, said:

“And say not concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely: “This is lawful and this is unlawful,” so as to invent lies against Allah. Verily, those who invent lies against Allah will never prosper. A passing brief enjoyment (will be theirs), but they will have a painful torment.” (An-Nahl:116-117)

And the Prophet warned us from lying in general:

“Beware of lying, for lying leads to wickedness and wickedness leads to the Hellfire.” (Al-Bukari and Muslim)

The Muslim man should likewise avoid backbiting and tale-carrying, because Allah, the Glorified and Most High, said:

“O you who believe! Avoid having suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would detest it. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” (Al-Hujarat:12)

And the Prophet ﷺ said:

“The tale-carrier will not enter Jannah.” (Muslim)

Another thing that the Muslim man should avoid are the sins of the eyes and this is especially true for the brothers fasting in the non-Muslim countries during the summer time. Allah, the Almighty, said:

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is well acquainted with what they do.” (An-Nur:30)

These are an example of some of the duties and sins that the Muslim man must abide by whilst fasting, so as not to nullify or lessen the reward of his fast and if one should fall into one of these things then let him seek Allah’s forgiveness and mercy during this blessed month when the doors of Jannah are opened.

From amongst the preferred etiquettes of the fast is to eat Suhur. Suhur is the meal the Muslim eats in the early morning before beginning the fast. The Prophet ﷺ said:

“Suhur, all of it is a blessing, so do not leave it, even if you were to just drink a cup of water, because Allah and His angels send their prayers upon those who have Suhur” (Ahmad)

The Prophet ﷺ instructed us to delay Suhur to close to the time to start fasting, because that is better for the faster and makes it less likely for him to fall asleep and miss the Fajr prayer, he ﷺ said:

“Eat and drink until you hear Ibn Umm Maktum call the adhan, because he doesn’t call the adhan until Fajr has entered.” (Al-Bukhari)

Also from the preferred etiquettes is to hasten to break your fast once the time for Maghrib has entered. The Prophet ﷺ said:

“People will not cease to be upon goodness for as long as they rush to break their fast.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

And the Prophet ﷺ said that Allah said:

“Indeed the most beloved of my slaves are those who rush to break their fast.” (Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi)

The sunnah is to break your fast with rutub dates (moist dates), and if those are not available then tamr dates (dried dates), and if those are not available then water. Anas (radiallahu anhu) said:

“The Prophet ﷺ used to break his fast before he prayed with rutub, and if there were no rutub, then tamr, and if there were no tamr, then water.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and At-Tirmidhi)

When you break your fast you should make dua for what you want, because the Prophet ﷺ said:

“When the fasting person breaks his fast, his dua is not refused.” (Ibn Majah)

And when you break your fast it is the sunnah to say:

ذََهَبَ الظَمَأُ وَابْتَلَتِ العُرُوقُ وَثَبَتَ  الأَجْرُ إِنْ شَاءَ الله

“Dhahabah adh-dhama’u wabtalatil urooqu wa thabatal ajru insha’allah.”

Which means:

“The thirst is gone, the blood vessels are moistened, and the reward is affirmed, if Allah wills.”

From the preferred etiquettes of the fast and Ramadan is to increase in reading the quran, making dua, performing the prayer and giving charity. Ibn Abbas said:

“The Prophet was the most generous of people and he was at his most generous during Ramadan when the angel Jibra’il (alaihi assalaam) used to meet him every night and teach him the Quran. The Messenger of Allah was more generous than the blowing wind.” (Al-Bukhari)

And the Prophet ﷺ said about praying the night prayer during Ramadan:

“Whoever prays in Ramadan with sincere faith, hoping for Allah’s reward, will have his past sins forgiven.” (Muslim)

So implement these simple etiquettes so that you may perfect your fast this Ramadan, and beware of the things that will decrease or nullify the rewards of your fast.

And don’t miss the next installment of the TMM Ramadan Series where we will be talking about the rulings of Zakat Al-Fitr.

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The Two Joys

The first installment of the TMM Ramadan series features the excellence of Ramadan and fasting.

Alhamdulillah Allah has blessed us all to reach another Ramadan, so let us reflect on exactly how amazing this month really is. This article will be the first of a series of Ramadan posts where we will discuss its many different facets.

Ramadan combines personal sacrifice, remembrance of others less fortunate than ourselves, prayer, supplication, forgiveness, forbearance, sincerity of worship to the One who deserves to be worshipped alone without partners, and countless other beautiful traits. No wonder Allah chose this particular form of worship to be for Him alone. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said that Allah said:

“Every act of the Son of Adam is for him, they are multiplied in their reward from ten to seven hundred times, except the fast, which is (exclusively) for Me, and I will reward him for it. The person observing the fast abstains from food and drink only for My sake.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The fast is unlike any other act of worship, because it is truly for Allah alone. This cannot be said for the prayer, charity, Hajj, or any other act of worship, because a man might pray to Allah so that people can say he is pious, or give charity so people can say he is generous, and so on. The fast, on the other hand, is for Allah alone, because no one but Allah and yourself know whether you are truly fasting or not. If you wanted you could easily eat and drink when nobody is watching. Therefore, if you start the day fasting and you end the day fasting then you did that for no other reason than for fear of Allah’s punishment and hope for His reward.

Because of this Allah said “and I will reward him for it”, this doesn’t mean that the reward for other good deeds come from other than Allah, instead it means that Allah will reward the fasting person without limit. Allah in His complete wisdom and generosity rewards the believer from 10 to 700 times for any regular good deed that is performed, but the fast, due to its excellence, may be infinitely rewarded.

The Prophet ﷺ also told us about this truly special month that:

“When Ramadan begins, the gates of Jannah are opened, the gates of Hell are locked, and the devils are chained.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Allah opens the gates to Heaven during Ramadan due to all the good deeds that are done during this time and as an incentive to the doers of good deeds; He locks the gates of Hell due to the lack of bad deeds done by the believers, and He chains the devils so that they are unable to lure and tempt the people who are fasting to disobey Allah.

Ramadan is a joyous month for the believer, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said that:

“The fasting person experiences two joys: when he breaks his fast he feels joy, and when he meets his Lord.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The fasting person feels joy that Allah blessed him to reach another Ramadan, guided him and gave him the desire to fast for His sake and he feels joy on the Day of Judgment when his fast stands as a witness for him and he is called to enter Heaven. The Prophet ﷺ said:

“The fast and the Quran will stand as witnesses for the slave on the Day of Judgment. The fast will say, ‘Indeed my Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires, so allow me to intercede for him’, and the Quran will say, ‘I prevented him from sleep at night, so allow me to intercede for him’ and they will both be allowed to intercede.” (Ahmad)

And Prophet ﷺ said:

“In Jannah there is a gate which is called Ar-Rayaan through which only those who used to fast will enter on the Day of Resurrection. It will be called out, ‘Where are those who used to fast?’ So they will stand up and proceed towards it. When the last of them will have entered, the gate will be closed and then no one will enter through that gate.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Brothers, we have reached a great month full of blessings, mercy and forgiveness, but you can’t receive these blessings unless you perform your fast in the right way, keeping to the etiquettes of Ramadan, so strive to perform your fast in the best way, stick to its boundaries and limitations, and seek forgiveness from Allah for any shortcomings during this month.

And don’t miss the next installment of the TMM Ramadan Series where we will be talking about the obligations and sunan of the fast to help you perfect your blessings and reward.

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