Fitr means to break fast or to refrain from fasting. Hence the Eid after the fasts of Ramadan is called Eid-ul-Fitr, as it is the day of rejoicing after the completion of fasting. On this occasion of happiness, as a sign of gratitude one has to give a specific amount in alms, which is called Sadaqatul-Fitr. To purify and obtain complete blessings for the fasts of Ramadan one has to give Sadaqatul–Fitr. Thus it is wâjib to give Sadaqatul-Fitr to purify one’s fast. The true object in giving Sadqatul-fitr on this happy occasion is also to assist the poor and needy, so that, they may rejoice with the more fortunate.
Sadaqatul Fitr becomes obligatory upon a Muslim male and female who is alive at dawn on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr; on whom Zakaat is Wajib, or who possesses goods free of debt in excess of his personal needs (e.g. house, clothing, furniture, etc) to the value upon which Zakaat is obligatory. In addition, it is obligatory upon the father to pay Sadaqatul Fitr on behalf of his minor children.
It is essential that Sadaqatul Fitr be distributed to the poor and needy Muslims before the Eid Salaah. However, if this obligation has not been discharged timeously, then it should be done as soon as possible.
It is preferable to give one’s Sadaqatul Fitr firstly to needy relatives, thereafter to one’s needy relatives and then to other needy Muslims.
Rasulullah (SAW) said : “The fast remains suspended between the heavens and the earth until the fitrah is discharged”. (Targheeb)
It must be noted that Sadaqatul Fitr is a Sunnah of Rasulullah (SAW) and an opportunity to ease the plight of those in need.