Zakah Al-Fitr and the Unity of the Muslim Nation
Muslims fulfill the obligation of fasting in the month of Ramadan and conclude this month by performing a great act of worship that culminates their commendable acts of worship and righteous deeds in this blessed month. This act of worship symbolizes a great pillar of the pillars of Islam—zakah—and it is represented in the month of Ramadan in zakah al-fitr.
The obligation of zakah al-fitr at the end of this blessed month is rarely neglected by any Muslim, especially those whose souls look forward to attaining the satisfaction of Allah Almighty and yearn to have their deeds accepted. No Muslim is exempted from this obligation. Allah, the Exalted, revealed on the lips of the Prophet that zakah al-fitr is obligatory on every Muslim, slaves and free men, males and females, and young and old (as in the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with them). Imams Malik, Shafi‘i and Ahmad believed that it is obligatory on whoever has more than his needs and the needs of whom he provides for on the day of eid and its eve.
The great and noble wisdom behind zakah al-fitr and the implied meanings in this obligation are too clear to be elaborated upon. However, Muslims should evoke them so as to maximize their rewards and accomplish the objective of fasting on the individual level and the nation as a whole.
Zakah al-fitr is a form of purification for the fasting person. It is for the completion of his fast and as a compensation for any shortcomings at the end of this blessed month. The giver savors the feelings of poverty and servitude to Allah, the Exalted, Who bestowed the blessing of this opportunity upon him to redress any imbalance and deficiency (in his fasting).
On the other hand, it relieves poor people from the humiliation of asking others for money on the day of eid, as stated in the hadith: "Give to the poor to enrich them so that they will not ask or be in need on that day (i.e. eid al-fitr)." This highlights the refined Islamic values of solidarity and compassion within the Muslim community. If these values are well-established in the souls and hearts of the Muslims and are observed after the end of Ramadan, then the affairs of the Muslim nation will significantly improve!
This is a message to the Muslim scholars, preachers and callers to Allah Almighty, may He grant them all success, to underline these refined Islamic meanings and values and spread them among the Muslims as they are keen to explain jurisprudence and provisions related to fasting in Ramadan.
There is a significant difference between he who underlines these values and the wisdom (behind fasting) just to exempt himself from this duty and he who does it while knowing the relevant religious ruling and objectives!