Difference between Zakat and Zakat-ul-Fitar

Zakat and Zakat-ul-Fitar are two terms that are often confused with each other. This is mainly because both involve giving a portion of one’s saving to the needy. This similarity along with the somewhat similar names have led people to use these terms interchangeably.

That being said, it must be pointed out that there are distinct differences between Zakat and Zakat-ul-Fitar. With Ramadan 2019 upon us, it is vital that confusions such as these be clarified. Thus, in order to do just that we are going to highlight four main differences between Zakat and Zakat-ul-Fitar.

Eligibility

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam that is compulsory only for those Muslims whose annual wealth exceeds the Nisaab – the monetary value of 612.36 grams of silver or 87.48 grams of gold. Zakat-ul-Fitar (Also known as Sadaqat-ul-Fitar and Fitrana), on the other hand, is an obligatory act for all Muslims regardless of their age, sex, or financial status (only those Muslims are exempt from Zakat-ul-Fitar who do not have around 2.6-3 kg of staple food in excess of their needs.)

In short, Zakat-ul-Fitar is applicable to a larger number of Muslims. Hence, it becomes the duty of the head of the family to pay on behalf of those in his or her household. For instance, a father may pay on behalf of his children who have not hit puberty and those who do not have their own wealth.

Amount

The second major difference between Zakat and Zakat-ul-Fitar is the amount of money that is due. While Zakat-ul-Fitar amounts typically to just 5 pounds per individual, Zakat is equivalent to 2.5% of annual savings and wealth that exceed the Nisaab at the end of the lunar year.

Due dates

The third major difference is in the due dates. Zakat being the least restrictive of the five pillars of Islam can be paid at any time given that the amount given to the needy reflects one lunar year’s savings and wealth. Zakat-ul-Fitar, however, needs to be paid in the holy month of Ramadan, before the month ends.

Note that it is essential that Zakat-ul-Fitar is paid before the Eid-ul-Fitar prayers begin as otherwise it will be rendered invalid. You wouldn’t want to do that since there’s no other way of making it up. Hence, make sure that you pay Zakar-ul-Fitar on any day between 6th May 2019 and 4th June 2019 to be on the safe side. You can simply answer any needy persons Zakat appeal and safely get done with this obligatory act.

Importance

Zakat, being one of the five pillars of Islam is extremely important to the extent that it has been said that whoever withholds it is a wrongdoer and whoever denies it is a Kafir. Furthermore, it has also been said that if a person is not willing to pay it then it needs to be taken by force and that person must be fought till the time he pays what is due. Zakat-ul-Fitar, on the other hand, is relatively less important. That’s obvious since it is not one of the five pillars of Islam and whoever denies it is not termed a Kafir.

So, there you have it – the four main differences between Zakat and Zakat-ul-Fitar.  

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