For the first time, i had the opportunity this year to give zakatul-fitr as food instead of money. I dropped the food off to the family last night and I have a few thoughts regarding the whole thing:
1) For those of us who take the opinion that you don't have to give the same food types that were given in the time of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, we should produce a list which is appropriate for our own environment, and which extends to more than just giving rice and flour. One brother told me that he visited a poor brother who had something like 200kg of rice donated to him! What I gave is the following:
- packs of frozen chips (hey if chips aren't a stable food in the UK, nothing is)
- meat (after speaking to my teacher about it)
2) Do we have organisations that make a concerted effort to distribute zakah here in the UK before sending it abroad? I'm only aware of one: JIMAS. There are certainly people here in the UK to give it to. A few years ago a brother told me that he went to visit a convert, and found the brother cupping his hands round a lit candle to stay warm because he didn't have enough money to pay the gas/electricity bill.
3) Generosity. When i was collecting the food (before i'd decided to give the meat) i thought that if someone gave me x kilos of rice and pasta, that would be nice but it would be quite bland tasting. What would be great would be to provide the spices and all that other stuff that would make it taste fabulous. Well, i wasn't going to go spice shopping so in addition, i gave some money to the family so that they could buy what additional ingredients they needed, and which might not fall under the category of "staple foods". And i'm sure there are brothers out there who have enough wealth that if they get the chance to give zakatul fitr as food, would be able to give some extra money as well. After all, Ramadan is the month of charity right?
Click here for an excellent post on the subject by Sh. Yasir Qadhi