Zakat al-Fiter, which is part of the fast of Ramadan, is characterized by the following elements: It consists of approximately 2.5 kilograms (slightly more than one pound) of rice, wheat, dates, or similar food or items. It is not proper to give the Zakat al-Fiter in the form of money, clothes, or any other non-food items. However, one school of Islamic law–the Hanafites–say that one is allowed to give the Zakat al-Fiter in monetary form if he wishes to do so. It must be given on the day of Eid, which is known as Eid-al-Fiter, and signifies the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan.
It can also be paid one or two days before Eid-al-Fitr. It cannot be given after the Eid prayer, unless one has a valid reason for such a delay. It should be given on behalf of every Muslim whether male or female, adult or minor.
Dr Sameer Maqbool