I forgot to pay the Sadaqat al-Fitr before Eid prayer. Do I still need to pay it? Will I be sinful for not paying on time, and if I do pay it now, will it be considered a Qadha?
The whole concept behind Sadaqat al-Fitr is allowing poor and needy individuals to enjoy the day of Eid like those who are wealthy, and that they are not worried about making ends meet. As such, it is strongly recommended to pay this Sadaqa in a way that it reaches the poor and needy on the day of Eid.
Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & grant him peace) commanded Sadaqat al-Fitr to be paid before people went out to the [Eid] prayer.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari no: 1438)
Imam al-Bukhari also relates from Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that ‘the Companions would give this Sadaqa a day or two before Eid al-Fitr.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari no: 1440)
As such, in areas where the Sadaqat al-Fitr money is collected and then transferred abroad, it is better to pay it a few days in advance of Eid so that the poor and needy individuals receive it by Eid day. The renowned classical Hanafi jurist, Imam al-Kasani (may Allah have mercy on him), states in his Bada’i al-Sana’i:
‘It is recommended (mustahab) to pay this Sadaqa before going out to the Eid prayer, because this was the habit of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and because of his (Allah bless him & give him peace) statement, ‘Liberate the poor from begging on this day’. So if one pays it [to the poor] before going out to the Eid prayer, it will free him from begging on that particular day, and as such, he too will be in a position of offering his Eid Salat with contentment and a peace of mind. (See: Bada’i al- Sana’i 2/74)
Muslims living in the West should realize that the intended goal of Sadaqat al-Fitr will not be achieved if they pay it at the door of the Mosque ten minutes prior to Eid Salat. The spirit of Sadaqat al-Fitr is that the poor and needy have this money with them on the day of Eid so that they are able to rejoice and enjoy their Eid just like everyone else. Muslim communities across the various cities should try and facilitate the collection of Sadaqat al-Fitr prior to Eid and its distribution amongst the poor on Eid day.
Nevertheless, if one could not transfer the money to the poor on Eid day, it is recommended that this Sadaqa is paid on Eid day before the Eid prayer. Imam al-Haskafi (may Allah have mercy on him) states in his al-Durr al-Mukhtar:
‘It is recommended to take out Sadaqat al-Fitr before going out to the Eid prayer after dawn acting upon the statement and practice of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace). It is valid to pay it before or after the Eid day.’ (See: Radd al-Muhtar ala ‘l-Durr al-Mukhtar, 2/367)
If one forgets or fails to pay this Sadaqa prior to going out to the Eid prayer, then one should pay it as soon as possible, since the obligation is not uplifted by the delay. It is not sinful to delay paying Sadaqat al-Fitr until after the Eid prayer, but it is improper and somewhat disliked (makruh tanzih) to do so, because, as explained, one is leaving the ‘recommendation’ of paying it before the Eid prayer. If one delays it, even if long, it will still be considered a current performance (ada) and not a makeup (qadha). (See: Majma’ al-Anhur 1/228 and Radd al-Muhtar 2/367-368)
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK