Ruling on paying Zakat-ul-Fitr in cash
All Praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds, peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Slave and Messenger Muhammad, his family and Companions.
To proceed: Many of my Muslim brothers asked me about the ruling on paying Zakat-ul-Fitr (obligatory charity paid before the Festival of Breaking the Fast) in cash.
The answer is: It is well-known for every Muslim who has the least discernment that the most important pillar of Islam is the testimony of La ilaha illa Allah (there is no god but Allah) and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. It is a requisite of “La ilaha illa Allah” that none must be worshipped except Allah alone. Also, a requisite of “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” is that Allah (He may be Glorified) must not be worshipped except through what the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordained. Zakat-ul-Fitr is an act of worship according to the Ijma` (consensus of scholars) of all Muslims. The general rule regarding acts of worship is that they are Tawqifiy (bound by a religious text and not amenable to personal opinion). It is not permissible for anyone to perform any act of worship except that which has been ordained by the wise lawgiver (peace be upon him). Allah says about him: Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only a Revelation revealed. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said also in this regard: Whoever introduces something into this affair of our which is not of it, it is to be rejected. And: Whoever performs any act for which there is no sanction from our behalf, it is to be rejected.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) pointed out that Zakat-ul-Fitr is, as reported in authentic Hadiths, one Sa` (1 Sa`=3 kg. Approx.) of food, or Sa` of dates, or Sa` of barley, or Sa` of raisin, or Sa` of cheese. Al-Bukhari and Muslim (may Allah be Merciful with them) narrated from `Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) that he said: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) enjoined the payment of one Sa‘ of dates or one Sa‘ of barley as Zakat-Al-Fitr on every Muslim bondsman or free, male or female, young or old, and he ordered that it be paid before going out to offer the Salat-ul-`Eid (the Festival Prayer). Abu Sa`id Al-Khudry (may Allah be pleased with him) said: We used to give Zakat-ul-Fitr in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as one Sa` of food or one Sa` of dates or Sa` (2,172 grams) of barley or Sa` of raisins. In another narration: Or Sa` of cottage cheese… Agreed on its authenticity. This is the Sunnah of Muhammad (peace be upon him) regarding Zakat-ul-Fitr. It is well known that Muslims at the time of this legislation – especially, the society of Madinah – used to deal in dinar and dirham as they were the circulating currency; however, the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not mention them in Zakat-ul-Fitr. Had everything been acceptable in Zakat-ul-Fitr, he would have explained it because it is not permissible to delay explanation beyond the time of need. Had the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered this the Sahabah (the Companions of the Prophet) would have reported it (may Allah be pleased with them). As for what has been mentioned that the Zakah (obligatory charity) of Al-Sa’imah (cattle let loose for free pasture) is part of the established compensation provided that there is no Zakah rate that must be paid on it.The general rule in the acts of worship is to take the ruling as it stands. This was mentioned previously. We do not know of any Sahabah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that paid money in Zakat-ul-Fitr while they were the most knowledgeable of his Sunnah and keenest to adhere to it. Had they done so, it would have beed reported as they reported all other matters related to the Shar`y rulings. Allah (Glorified be He) states: Indeed in the Messenger of Allâh (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) you have a good example to follow also: And the foremost to embrace Islâm of the Muhâjirûn (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansâr (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhâjirûn ) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allâh is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.
From what have mentioned earlier, it is clear that paying Zakat-ul-Fitr in cash is not permissible or sufficient because doing so contradicts the Shar`y proofs. I ask Allah to grant us success as well as other Muslims to understand His Deen, remain steadfast upon it and warn against that which goes against the Shari`ah for He is the Most Generous. Peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and his Companions.