What is Fitra and Why Muslims give Fitra before Eid in Ramadan?
Did you know that the Muslims give Fitra before they celebrate Eid in Ramadan? Fitra is a gift of an amount of wheat (as food) or equivalent money that is given to the poor or needy. It is obligatory upon every able muslim. Without giving this, their Eid is not complete.
Muslims celebrate two Eids – Eid ul Fitr after Ramadan and Eid al Adha after Hajj. Both these Eids have special meaning for muslims. There are different rituals that are performed at each Eid. In Eid al Fitr, Muslims give Fitra while at Eid al Adha, an animal is slaughtered and the meat is distributed.
Ramadan is that time of the year, when Muslims all over the world put special emphasis to charity. We carry out food drives at small and large levels, seek out the poor and needy every day, looking to make sure that nobody stays hungry through the month. We share food with our neighbors or invite people to our homes for Iftaar. It is hard to miss. Even little children notice it and that is exactly why I am writing about Fitra today.
Last year, my son was full of questions at Eid when he saw that all around the city there were people selling wheat in very similar type of bags, on every street corner. He also saw that there were people who were buying these bags and then giving it to either the ‘poor’ who were on the street near them or they were giving those bags back to the sellers. It is really a peculiar site because you see, there aren’t many poor here. Also, why are those sellers taking the wheat back after selling it?
Living in Saudi Arabia, we get to see all the rituals and traditions in Islam very easily. Most times, I don’t even have to raise the topic for my children. I have found that they come and tell me as they discover.
Today, I’d like to talk about this beautiful ritual in the month of Ramadan. I hope these facts will help you talk to your children about it’s significance.
What is Fitra and who has to give it?
Fitra, also called as Fitrah or Fitrana or Zakat al Fitr, is the obligatory charity that Muslims have to give after the sighting of the Eid moon. It is obligatory on every family.
Yes, that is the key point here: Family. The charity of Fitra should be given by the head of the family. He gives it on behalf of each member of his family who will be celebrating the Eid in his home. That means, if you have a guest visiting who will be celebrating Eid with you, then his Fitra is obligatory upon you too.
Another condition for giving the Fitra is that you can give it only in your city. Fitra is not the same as ‘Zakat’.
Zakat is one of the pillars of islam and it is the obligatory charity that Muslims have to give every year. Zakat can be given through out the year too. It is not necessary to give it just in Ramadan although most people give in this month. You can send your Zakat out of your city to other parts of the world, where you know people are in need, but Fitra must be given only in the city that you are living in.
A Fitra is a fixed amount of food that has to be given. The term ‘food’ here refers to the staple food that all people eat like wheat, rice, barley, millet, dates etc. The ‘amount’ is fixed too. It is usually 2.5kgs of wheat per head. That means, if you are a family of five then you have to give 2.5kgs x 5. You can give either a bag of this wheat or rice or you can give the equivalent amount of money.
Ideally, the Fitra is to be given after sighting the moon for the beginning of month of Shawwal that marks the end of the month of Ramadan. Eid is on the 1st of Shawwal. The Fitra is to be paid before you pray the Eid prayer but since it isn’t possible to find poor and needy in only a few hours between sunset and dawn, Muslims give Fitra from the 27th of Ramadan.
Also, since Fitra is just a little amount of money and it isn’t enough to meet the needs of all the people that we may want to help, for this reason people prefer to give their Zakat for the year during Ramadan too.
Why should you give Fitra?
After reading all of the above, I am sure you want to know the reason why we must give the Fitra.
The word Fitra in Arabic means ‘instinct, human nature, disposition or intuition’. So, in general, you can say Fitra means the ‘natural instinct to give’. If you look at all the fact that I have mentioned above, then it is easy to understand the reason why Fitra is given.
Muslims give Fitra before Eid to ensure that others around them are in the position to celebrate Eid with them. One cannot be happy celebrating while his neighbour goes hungry. Even if you live in a well off community, then too, there may be others in your city who are unable to feel the joy this Eid. This charity has been made obligatory so that we understand our responsibility towards our society. We are commanded to care for those around us just like we care for our own families.
Who can you give Fitra to?
According to the Muslim traditions (hadith), a needy relatives has more right over your Fitra, followed by your neighbour and then an educated one and then so on. The reason for this, is that Islam places special emphasis on family and community relations. We are asked to hold on to maintain family ties at all costs. Neighbours have rights too and they are considered as next to family.
In general, you are asked to give your charity to those nearest to you who you know are needy and may not be able to celebrate Eid as well as your family.
It is recommended that you go out and seek people who are in need of your charity. Find the people in your city who are needy and unable to have a happy Eid. This is recommended, but what if we are unable to find those people, what do you do then? Most Authentic Islamic Organisations help in this. They have outlets where you can give your Fitra and your Zakat. They take your money, or if it is grain that you would like to give, then they help you distribute it.
I mentioned above that my son saw people buying the grain and giving it back to the sellers. This is what they were doing. They were buying the grain from these Organisation outlets and giving it back to them to be given to those in need.
What can children learn about Eid ul Fitr:
I like to teach my children about the gift of giving in Ramadan. Fitra is given by the head of the family but children can be involved in this act in many ways.
- I like to, foremost, talk about it with my children. Explain to them the reason why Eid ul Fitr is called by this name. I also keep the tradition of giving Eidi to the kids in my family. (Eidi is a small amount of money that we give to children or those younger than us on Eid.)
- Ramadan is the perfect time to teach about charity and kindness. Since there are already many chances to see the kindness through this month by distributing food and food drives, help your children with their own food drives.
- Help them declutter their wardrobes and toys. Teach them about how Islam teaches modesty and moderation in all aspects of life. Help them give away those toys and old clothes.
- If you have the means to, then help your children buy new clothes, toys or books to gift some cousin or friend. Islam encourages the giving of gifts as this builds relationships and love between each other. Give some extra Eidi to your elder children and teach them how they too, can give some Eidi to their younger siblings. Teach them that the proper way to handle money.
- Let children learn about the different ways to give charity. They can collect money to stock a library with books, buy a water cooler to place somewhere, etc. but more than that teach them that charity begins at home. Helping family members and friends or even simply smiling at others is also an act of charity.
Best of all, I like to teach my children that Fitra is the Islamic way of celebrating the love we have for for each other as humans. Muslims give Fitra before Eid to show that there is joy in giving and that by celebrating together that joy just multiplies.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Muslims give Fitra before Eid to show that there is joy in giving. By celebrating together that joy just multiplies. ” quote=”Muslims give Fitra before Eid to show that there is joy in giving. By celebrating together that joy just multiplies.”]
This post is part of the Ramadan for Kids series. Hop on over to see what my friends have written on the topic this Ramadan:
Multicultural Kid Blogs is proud to be hosting its third annual Ramadan for Kids blog hop, where bloggers come together to share ideas for teaching kids about and honoring Ramadan. Don’t forget to check out our blog hops from last year and 2015. Be sure to follow our Ramadan board on Pinterest for even more ideas and link up your own posts below!
Middle Way Mom: All Things Ramadan
Jeddah Mom: Why Muslims Give Fitra Before Eid in Ramadan?
Sand in My Toes: 6 Ways to Get Kids Involved During Ramadan
A Crafty Arab: 2017 Ramadan Crafts 30 Day Challenge
Family in Finland: Childhood Memories of Ramadan in Peshawar, Pakistan
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