Allah (SWT) says in the Quran-e-Majid that one who gives "Zakat" and remembers Him will get salvation. Here, Zakat means "Fitra" and remembrance of God means the recitation of the following Takbir on the night and morning of Eid al-Fitr.
"Allaaho Akbar, Allaaho Akbar, Laa ilaaha illallaah wallaaho Akbar, Allaaho Akbar, Wa lillaahil hamd. Alhamdulillah alaa maa hadaanaa walahu Shukr alaa maa aulana."
The meaning of the above is: "Allah is Great, Allah is Great there is no one worthy of prayer but Allah, and Allah is Great; Allah is Great, all praise be to Allah, it is He Who guides."
Zakat al-Fitr is a small amount that Muslims are obliged to pay as charity at the end of Ramadan. Zakat al-Fitr is often referred to as Sadaqah al-Fitr (voluntary charity). The word Fitr means the same as Iftaar, breaking a fast and it comes from the same root word as Futoor which means breakfast. Thus, Islamically, Zakat al-Fitr is the name given to charity which is distributed at the end of the fast of Ramadan.
Fitr is compulsory on those who can afford it, and it is a sin not to give it.
Hazrat Imam Jafar-e-Sadiq (A.S.) has said that fasts do not attain perfection without Fitr just as Namaz is not accepted without invoking the blessings of Allah on Mohammad (S.A.W.) and his Aaal (A.S.) in Tashahhud. Hazrat Imam Jafar-e-Sadiq (A.S.) used to instruct his accountant to take out Fitr for each individual including slaves and servants male and female of his household without exception, as, he feared that one whose Fitr was not taken out might die within that year.
Fitr is dependant on the major item of food consumed by a person during the year. These may be rice, wheat, barley, dates, etc. In weight Fitr should be three Kilograms per person. It is also permissible to pay cash to the value of three Kilograms food grains.
It is obligatory on the head of the family to give Fitr of all persons (including servants of both sexes of any cast or creed) that take food in his house.
If a guest Muslim or non-Muslim arrives at one's house before the night of Eid al-Fitr and dines with his host, it is incumbent on the latter to give the former's Fitr. If the guest arrives after sunset of the night of Eid al-Fitr. Fitr is not obligatory even if he dines with his host. Even when the guest arriving before sunset does not dine, Fitr is obligatory on the host. In this it is better if both the host and the guest give Fitr.
If one's wife is at her parent's on the night of Eid al-Fitr, her parents should take out her Fitr.
On the last day of the month of Ramadan, if a person arrranges a Majlis which finishes afer sunset (Magrib) and if, he offers Niyaz or food to his guests, he does not have to give Fitr for them.
Fitr should be given to deserving Momins who do not have enough income for the maintenance of their families for the whole year.
Fitr cannot be given to one's dependants. But, it is better to give it to non-dependant deserving relatives. Next in order of preference are deserving neighbors and then any other deserving pious persons. Fitr from Syeds can be given to Syeds or non-Syeds. Fitr from non-Syeds cannot be given to Syeds.
If deserving persons are not really available, Fitr should be sent to places where such persons are found, or the amount should be sent to a Mujtahid who would do the needful in distributing the same.
It is not essential that the recipient of Fitr is an "Aadil" (just), but it is necessary to ensure that it is not given to anyone likely to use it in acts of sin, e.g. drinking liquor, gambling, etc.
Although it is permissible to send Fitr to any place it is preferable if it is distributed to a deserving person locally.
The time for giving Fitr is from the night of Eid al-Fitr (Ramadan Eid) up to the noon (Zohr) of Eid al-Fitr. If this is not possible for some reason the amount of Fitr should be set apart from his other monies and disbursed when deserving person is available or it may be sent to a Mujtahid for required distribution.
It is stated that Fitr ought to be given to pious persons and not those who indulge in sin.
And now that the Holy Month of Glory (Ramadan) has departed and Eid is over, let us look back to the lessons it has taught us, and let us pray to God that the things we observed the recitation of the Holy Quran, the saying of Prayers (Namaz) regularly, the charity which we did, the poor that we fed, the good manners and self-restraint that we observed, should be with us in our everyday lives and these are the very ACTS that take us nearer to Allah.
And Allah has said, "Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me." (2:152)
"If ye are grateful, I will add more (favors) unto you; But if ye show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed." (14:7)
And to those who have been indifferent and have wished that there was no such thing as this month of Ramadan and who on sighting the New Moon had a dejected face, should remember this Ayat of the Holy Quran.
"Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer): but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell - in humiliation!" (40:60)
But can ye not see, O men, the mighty workers of God in the heavens and the earth? The dark-some splendor of the night with the stars, and the daylight splendor of the sun? How the earth with its spacious expanse and its mountains, yields moisture and pasture, and feeds and sustains men and cattle, through God's Providence?
AH! Transgress not all bounds and earn not the fire of punishment, but fear God and His Judgment, and prepare for the Garden of Perpetual Bliss.
ZAKAT AL-FITR and ZAKAT (ZAKAH) are different: (Alms giving, Charity)
Over the centuries, it has become a practice among the Muslims to offer their Zakat (Zakah) in the month of Ramadan. This is generally done to increase one's blessings. However, we should remember that Zakat (Zakah) becomes due, one year after a person's wealth reaches the value of Nisab (minimum amount) for a type of item (Gold, Silver, Savings, etc) and according to most scholars, his wealth has to remain above that Nisab level throughout the course of the year. So it is impossible for the whole Ummah to have reached the obligation of paying Zakat (Zakah), at the onset of Ramadan. We should be clear in our minds that Zakat (Zakah) is not tied in with the month of Ramadan. An individual can bring forward his Zakat (Zakah) due date (notice: not push back), in order to take advantage of the multifold blessings of Ramadan. In fact, to make it easy on the recipients whose needs have to be met, one might chose Ramadan for the extra Sadaqa he gives out.
Finally, Zakat (Zakah) is not simply the calculation of your dues on your Gold and Silver ornaments. Its scope and implication is wide-ranging. As such, it requires us to be diligent and aware of various details relating to our context and various forms of wealth. At the minimum, a learned scholar should be consulted.
Imam Jafer As-Sadiq (as) said: "Allah shall ward off 70 kinds of Calamities from one who gives Charity in the month of Ramadhan."