I am still fairly perplexed concerning the precise amount of Fitrana which is enjoined on me.
According to Mufti Munib ur Rehaman, the official moon watcher of Pakistan, it amounts to the market price of 2.25 kilograms FLOUR and is calculated at Rs. 60 for the year 2008. For those who want to pay equal to the price of Khajoor (Dates) and Kishmish (Dried Grapes) it equals to Rs. 450 and 550 respectively.
Some articulate that the Prophet (SAWS) prescribed the amount of Sadaqat-ul-Fitr as a sa'a of staple food stuffs (rice, dates etc.). A sa'a is a unit of measurement equal to 4 handfuls of an average man. As such, the exact weight differs based on the foodstuff in question.
It is also said that the prescribed amount of Sadaqat-ul-Fitr is 1.75 Kilograms of WHEAT or its value in money. This amount is prescribed for paying Sadaqat-ul-Fitr for one person only.
The most bona fide in this regard is probably a Hadith quoted by Bukshar, "Ibn Umar said, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) made the charity of the Fitr – one sa' of dates or one sa' of barley – obligatory on every Muslim, Slave or freeman, male or female, minor or junior, and ordered that it should be paid before people go out for prayer." The sa' was an Arab measure weighing about 3.8 kilograms. Under the present circumstances, a price of 3.8 kg of wheat will be the right amount of Fitrana for each person.
Considering that giving Fitrana is an act of thankfulness towards Allah for having enabled us to observe the fasts of Ramadan we are not supposed to leave any means while spending in the name of God. Especially when it is already understood that the amount of Fitrana purifies us from any shortcomings during the month.
It is a Sunnah that the Sadaqat-ul-Fitr is paid before performing the Eid prayer. It can also be paid before the Eid day, but it is not advisable to delay it up to the performance of Eid prayer. However, if a person has failed to pay on its proper time, he should pay it as soon as possible, whereby the obligation will stand discharged.
The most deserving people for Sadaqat-ul-Fitr are close relatives followed by neighbors and the poor. Sadaqat-ul-Fitr should be paid only to a person who is entitled to receive Zakat.
Now here arises another question that who must pay Fitrana.
Some say it is incumbent on every free Muslim who possesses enough basic foodstuffs to feed himself and his family for the duration of one day and one night. A Muslim must pay zakah al-fitr on behalf of himself, his wife, children and any dependants.
While others iterate that it is an obligation for every Muslim, male or female, who owns 613.35 grams of silver or its equivalent (52.50 tolas of silver or 7.50 tolas of gold), either in the form of money, ornaments, stock-in-trade, or in the form of some goods or commodities beyond one's normal needs.
Sadaqat-ul-Fitr is obligated on each adult male or female separately, and the relevant adult person himself is responsible to pay it. The husband is not required to pay Sadaqat-ul-Fitr on behalf of his wife nor is the wife supposed to pay it on behalf of her husband. Similarly, a father is not bound to pay Sadaqat-ul-Fitr on behalf of his adult children or vice-versa. However, if the head of the family, by his own free will, wishes to pay Sadaqat-ul-Fitr for each one of the members of his family, he should seek their authorization for that purpose. In this case the Sadaqat-ul-Fitr paid by him will be valid on their behalf. If he did not pay the Sadaqat-ul-Fitr on behalf of any of the members of his family, he will not be responsible for it. Rather, it is the duty of every adult member of the family to discharge his own obligation or to request the head of the family to pay it on his or her behalf.
The Sadaqat-ul-Fitr is not necessary on behalf of a child who was born after the break of dawn in the Eid day, nor is it necessary to pay Sadaqat-ul-Fitr on behalf of a person who dies before the dawn of the Eid day.
Summing it up,
Zakat-ul-Fitr (also known as Fitrana) is an amount of charity -- in the form of staple foodstuffs -- that all Muslims with the means are required to pay at the conclusion of Ramadan.
Zakat-ul-Fitr money is used to purchase basic foodstuffs (the exact type dependant on the country in question and what is common in the local diet) which is then distributed to the poor and needy in time for Eid.