The Messenger (ﷺ) commanded with Zakāt-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, one Sā’ of dried dates or barley, “payable by the young and old, free and slave.” (Abu Dawūd 1620) “He commanded that it be handed out before the people leave their homes for the ⁦‪Eid‬⁩ Prayer.” (Bukhārī, Muslim)

Ibn Abbās said: “Allah’s Messenger obligated Zakāt Al-Fitr as a purification for the fasting person from loose talk, indecent speech and to feed the poor.” (Abu Dawūd) Abu Sa’īd said: “We used to give four cupped handfuls of grain or barley or dates or dried curds or raisins.” (Bukhārī)

A Muslim pays it for himself and for those he is responsible for such as his wife, children and others who he is obligated to provide for. It is also recommended to pay it on behalf of the unborn child. It is to be paid in food and not in cash or clothing – unless they will be converted to food for the neediest.

It is to be given to the poor of the land where we spent our Ramadān – unless the area no longer has those in need. It is best to avoid sending it to another country while there are people of need and those deserving in his own land. If there is no one in his land who are in need and deserving, then he can send it to the poor of the land which is closest to him. In that case, he may appoint someone to hand it out on his behalf.

To delay its payment until after the ‘Eid Prayer without an excuse is not allowed -— and in that case, he should still pay it during that day. And if it is delayed beyond the day of ‘Eid, it is still to be given as an atonement (qadā). This makes clear that Zakāt Al-Fitr must be given by everyone who has the ability and that it must be discharged before the ‘Eid Prayer, even if it is by a day or two.

The ones deserving of Zakāt Al-Fitr are same ones deserving of Zakāt Al-Māl among the poor, the destitute and so on. One can give the food (of Zakāt Al-Fitr) directly himself to those in need or deputise someone on his behalf or give it to those appointed to distribute it.

The amount that is to be given is a Sā’ (صاع) of wheat, or barley, or dates, or raisins or hard cheese — or that which is the staple food according to the land such as rice, corn, millet and so on. A Sā’ in kilograms is approximately 3kg.

It is not the right practice to pay money to the poor in replacement of food because that opposes the texts. The practice of giving cash to people in other countries is not allowed as they may not secure their food needs which is the aim or that others may extort it from them. 

Imām Ahmad Ibn Hanbal stated: “Cash payment is not to be given (as Fitr to the poor).” It was said to him: “Some people say Umar Ibn ‘Abdul-‘Azīz took it in cash.” He replied: “They leave the saying of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and instead say: ‘So-and-so said.’ Indeed ‘Umar said: ‘Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) obligated a Sā’ (of food) as Zakāt Al-Fitr.’”

This means that he took it to buy food, not distribute it as wealth.