THE ZAKAT OF EID-UL-FITR / ZAKAT FITRAH
Who Must Pay It
The zakat of Eid-Ul-Fitr is obligatory for every free Muslim, provided:
1. that one has the necessary amount - equivalent to 2.03 litres of food; and
2. that on the night before the Eid and on the day of Eid itself, this is in excess of what one needs to feed oneself and those whom one is obliged to support, what one needs to clothe them, and in excess of one's debts and housing expenses. If one's excess amounts to only part of the required zakat, one must pay as much of it as one has. For example, after minusing whatever necessities as above, one can afford only 1.07 litres of food, then that should be paid as Zakat of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Paying the Zakat of Eid-Ul-Fitr for One's Dependents
Someone obligated to pay the zakat of Eid-Ul-Fitr must also pay it for every person he is obliged to support, such as his wife and family - who may include his young children, grandchildren, parents, on the condition that they are Muslim and if the payer has enough food i.e. 2.03 litres per person above his own expenses and theirs. However, in terms of ruling, it should be noted that he is not obliged to pay it for his father's wife when supporting his father because of the father's financial difficulties, even though he is obliged to support her.
If one is obligated to pay the zakat of Eid-Ul-Fitr but only has enough to pay part of it, then one begins by paying one's own, then that of one's wife, his young child, father, mother, and then one's adult son who is without an income, as when he is chronically ill or insane, for otherwise one is not obligated to support an adult son.
A wealthy woman married to a man too poor to pay for her Eid-Ul-Fitr zakat is not obliged to pay her own, though it is important to understand that it is Sunnah for her to pay this and all forms of zakat to her husband, even if he spends it on her.
The zakat of Eid-ul-Fitr becomes obligatory when the sun sets on the night before the day of Eid - meaning on the evening of the last day of Ramadhan.
What Type of Food Must Be Given
The zakat of Eid-Ul-Fitr consists of 2.03 litres of the main staple food of the area in which it is given, of the kinds of crops on which zakat is payable. If the main staple is bread for example, as in many countries, only wheat may be given, and is what is meant by the expression of giving food here. For additional knowledge, it should be noted that the Hanafi school permits paying the poor the wheat's value in money, both here and for expiations. It is permissible to give the best quality of the staple food of the area, but not to give less than the usual quality; for example by giving barley where wheat is the main staple.
It is permissible to give the zakat of Eid-ul-Fitr to deserving recipients anytime during Ramadhan, though the best time is on the day of Eid-Ul-Fitr itself before the Eid prayer. It is not permissible to delay giving it until after the day of Eid - that is to say, one may give it until sunset, and it is a sin to delay until after this, and one must make it up by paying it late.