National Chief Imam
National Chief Imam

June 26th has been declared a public holiday by government to enable Muslims in Ghana to observe the Eid al Fitr celebration throughout the country to mark the end of the Ramadan fast.

In Accra the National Chief Imam Sheikh [Dr.] Osman Nuhu Sharubutu would lead a congregation of Muslims in prayers in much the same way as the regional and district Imams also lead Muslims in prayers after reading [khutbar] sermons. Being the first day of shawwal it is a day for merry making throughout Ghana and the world over during which food would be cooked mostly [ chicken stew and rice] in most Muslim homes and shared with Muslims and non-Muslims especially the poor and needy.

According to the Imam of Ashongman Estates Central Mosque, Imam Ibrahim Toure, one important requirement is for all those Muslims who are comfortably affluent to give to the poor and needy a day to the Eid day.

The charity is known as Zakatul Fitr given in the form of food for the benefit of all households including widows, the aged and children. This obligatory charity is important because no one is expected to go hungry on the day of eid celebration.

According to Imam Toure, there are two types of zakah in Islam.  the first is the regular compulsory charity [levied on the rich], also referred to specifically as ‘Zakatul mal’; it is the third of the five pillars of Islam

Imam Toure indicated that due to the Ramadan fast, we are concerned with Zakatul fitr which is payable by every person who has sufficient means to support himself and his family beyond the day and night of Eid al Fitr. It must be paid on behalf of every member of one’s family including infants. Zakatul fitr is obligatory on everyone who witnessed the last part of Ramadan and the beginning of shawwal. Thus, it is not obligatory on those who have died before the sunset of the last day of the Ramadan, nor is it a must to pay it on behalf of infants born after the final   day of Ramadan. As explicitly stated by the prophet [PBUH] the purpose of Zakatul fitr is twofold;

  1. To help compensate for the deficiencies in our fasts. Quite often, we are guilty of mistakes, of which although we may be unaware, may nevertheless undermine the blessings and rewards of our fasting.
  2. Secondly, it is intended to help the poor celebrate Eidul-fitr. Islam, being a religion of spiritual and social message considers essential that, at least on the day of eid, nobody should be allowed to go hungry.

Abu Dawud narrated on the authority of Ibn Abbas that he [the latter] said, ‘the messenger of Allah [PBUH] prescribed Zakatul-fitr in order to cleanse those who were fasting from damage done to their fast due to indulgence in lewdness or obscenities’. The eid charity is considered Zakah when given before the day of Eid otherwise if someone pays it after the Eid it is a form of usual charity. (reported by Ibn Majah on the authority of Abd Allah bin Abbas).

 

Who is to be paid?

During the time of the prophet [PBUH], he ordered the people to take the zakatul-fitr out from the foods they use to have available such as wheat, dates, etc. Thus, Bukhari and Muslim reported on the authority of Abu sa’id Al khudri that during the time of the Prophet [PBUH], we used to take zakatul-fitr in the form of portion of food such as rice, flour, dates or cheese etc. Scholars differ in specifying the foods referred to in the above tradition. However, in Ghana and other African countries we rely on rice, maize, sorghum etc.

The proper manner of giving Zalatul-fitr is to give it where one is residing. However, in the events that one cannot find deserving people nearby, or one has close relatives in another country who are more deserving, it is allowed to send the zakat or fund there. As stated above, if there are no needy people to receive the zakat in one’s local area it should be directed to where there is a need. In today’s world, there is no justification for holding the funds or directing them to order channels when we know that millions of people a large percentage of whom are Muslims are living in sub-human conditions of extreme poverty and deprivation. Whether one decides to give it locally or elsewhere the amount of zakah should be calculated according to the standard of your place of residence rather than from where the funds are sent.

by Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai