Assalamu‘alaikum Al-Fadhail ustaz. Considering that in the month of Ramadhan we are obligated to pay zakat fitrah, thus, I want to ask the ruling regarding zakat fitrah. Is it obligatory to pay zakat fitrah for an unborn baby (in the womb)?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Zakat fitrah is an obligatory zakat in the month of Ramadhan. The duration of this zakat starts at the start of Ramadhan until before the Eid prayer. This is understood based on the hadith from Ibnu Abbas, where the Prophet PBUH said:
زَكَاةَ الْفِطْرِ طُهْرَةً لِلصَّائِمِ مِنَ اللَّغْوِ وَالرَّفَثِ ، وَطُعْمَةً لِلْمَسَاكِينِ ، مَنْ أَدَّاهَا قَبْلَ الصَّلاَةِ ، فَهِيَ زَكَاةٌ مَقْبُولَةٌ ، وَمَنْ أَدَّاهَا بَعْدَ الصَّلاَةِ ، فَهِيَ صَدَقَةٌ مِنَ الصَّدَقَاتِ
“The sadaqah (alms) relating to the breaking of the fast as a purification of the fasting from empty and obscene talk and as food for the poor. If anyone pays it before the prayer (of 'Id), it will be accepted as zakat. If anyone pays it after the prayer, that will be a sadaqah like other sadaqahs (alms).”
Sunan Abu Daud (1609)
Every Muslim who has excess property or food on the night of Eid and on the day of Eid, then it is obligatory for him to pay zakat fitrah. It is regardless of whether the person is old, young, man or woman. Furthermore, it is obligated for a father or a husband to pay zakat fitrah for his dependants. This is according to:
كُلُّ مَنْ تَلْزَمُهُ نَفَقَةُ غَيرِهِ تَلْزَمُهُ فِطْرَتُهُ
“Whoever it is obligated on him to provide provisions (nafkah) for others, then it is obligated for him to also pay the zakat fitrah (for his dependants).”
Returning to the above question, it is not obligated to pay zakat fitrah for an unborn baby. Imam al-Nawawi commented on this issue stating that there is no zakat fitrah for a baby in his mother’s womb. The father is also not obligated to pay for the baby’s zakat fitrah. (Refer Al-Majmu’ Syarh Al-Muhazzab, 6/139). This is also the opinion presented by Imam al-Ramli and most Syaf’ie scholars.
There is also an opinion that states that it is obligatory to pay zakat fitrah for an unborn baby. They supported their opinion with a hadith from Ibnu Umar where he said:
فَرَضَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- زَكَاةَ الْفِطْرِ صَاعًا مِنْ تَمْرٍ أَوْ صَاعًا مِنْ شَعِيرٍ عَلَى كُلِّ عَبْدٍ أَوْ حُرٍّ صَغِيرٍ أَوْ كَبِيرٍ
“The Prophet PBUH obligates zakat fitrah. (The amount is) one sa’ of dates or wheat. It is obligated for every slave, a free person; the young (children) or the old (adult).”
Sahih al-Bukhari (1503) & Sahih Muslim (2326)
Ibnu Hajar al-Asqalani answers that baby inside the mother’s womb is not considered as children, whether it is considered linguistically or according to custom. He also states that an unborn baby may be alive or dead. (Refer Fath Al-Bari Syarh Sohih Al-Bukhari, 3/369). Thus, a baby in the mother’s womb is not included in the above stated hadith by Ibnu Umar.
According to the above discussion presented, we conclude that it is not obligatory to pay zakat fitrah for a baby inside a mother’s womb. It is also not an obligation for the father to pay zakat fitrah on behalf of the baby.
May Allah SWT give us understanding in His religion. Let us put all our efforts in this month of Ramadhan to fill it with good deeds and worships the best that we could. Wallahua’lam.