Eidul-Fitr Al-Mubarak On the first day of Shawwal
The lunar calendar has 12 months. ^Eid-ul-fitr is celebrated after completing the 9th month, which is called the month of Ramadan, i.e. it is celebrated on the first day of the 10th month, which is called the month of Shawwaal.
The beginning of a new month is determined by sighting the new crescent in compliance with the ahadeeth of the Prophet sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam. The Prophet sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam informed us that the lunar month is either 29 days or 30 days. One looks for the new crescent after the sun has set on the 29th day, if one sees it, then the next day is the first of the next month. However, if due to cloud one does not see it, then one completes 30 days and the next day is “automatically” deemed to be the first.
There are many recommended matters (sunnahs) that one is encouraged to observe on this day. Amongst them is to have a bath. The time of this ghusl starts at the middle of the night and it ends by the sunset and it is better to take this ghusl after Fajr, after the appearance of the dawn.
The Zakah of Fitr:
Also note that it is obligatory upon individuals who fulfil certain conditions to pay Zakah of Fitr.
Zakah of fitr is an obligation on every Muslim who is alive at the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwaal. In other terms if someone is alive when the sun sets on the last day of Ramadan, that is until after the sun sets, then the zakah of fitr is due on this person.
Every free Muslim has to pay the zakah of fitr for himself and in addition one also has to pay the zakah of fitr on behalf of the people whom one is religiously obligated to support. For example, one’s wife, poor father, poor mother, one’s pre-pubescent child that does not have money etc.
Note: if the parent is solvent, then his son or daughter does not have to pay zakah of fitr on behalf of the parent. Likewise if the child becomes pubescent, then it is not an obligation upon the parent to pay the zakah of fitr on behalf of the child. However, one can pay zakah of fitr on behalf of another person whom he is not obligated to support, if that other person authorises him to do that. Hence, if the pubescent child authorises his father to pay the zakah of fitr on his behalf, then the father can pay it on behalf of the child. Also note that even if the wife is solvent or rich, he has to pay zakah of fitr on her behalf.
For such a person to be obligated to pay the zakah of fitr, he needs to own what exceeds his debts, even if those debts are not due yet, also he needs to have what exceeds what he needs for clothing for himself and those whom he is obligated to support, food for himself and those whom he is obligated to support.
It is permissible to pay the zakah of fitr during the month of Ramadan, even at the first night of Ramadan. However, it is better to pay the zakah of fitr on the day of ^Eid and before the prayer of ^Eid. Because when one pays it before the prayer, then when the poor people get it, they feel relaxed during that day that they have enough to eat during the day of ^Eid. It is haram to delay paying it until after the sunset of the ^Eid day. If you pay it before the sun sets, then it is ok, if you delay paying it until after the sunset, then it is haram, i.e. if this is done without a religious excuse.
The due Zakah for each is a (sa^) of the most common staple food of that country.
Hence, the zakah of fitr is one sa^, which is 4 mudds; one mudd is the fill of two cupped hands. So one needs to pay 4 of them on behalf of each person, one sa^ of the common staple crops in the area. In many countries, the staple crop is wheat. In some countries it is rice and in some countries it is corn, and in some areas it is none of them, rather something else.
What has been mentioned above is in compliance with the madh-hab of Imam Ash-Shafi^iyy. Thus note that there are differences in opinion amongst the scholars about how much is "paid" as the zakah of fitr.
According to Hanafis one can pay the value of this zakah in money. For the year 2014, the Zakah of Fitr is about $6 (USA & Canada), and what's in excess is Sadaqah.