Islam tries to inculcate in us a commitment towards the society and community in various forms, as in also seen in Ramadhan. Sometimes as an obligation (Zakaat), sometimes as punishment (kaffara and Fidya), and sometimes simply out of goodwill with the occasion as the reason in itself (Fitra).
Zakaat is the fourth tenet of Islam, and literary means "one which purifies". It is heralded as a purifier of our possessions and earnings, and becomes applicable on a muslim who owns assets, saleable property or cash to the value of/exceeding 87.48 gms gold or
612.36 grams silver at present day value, whichever is less, for over a period of one year. Every year, we are bound to set aside 2.5% worth of the abovementioned values and distribute it among those who are below such means, with a exception of syeds (direct descendants of Prophet Mohammed), each others spouse, and those in our immediate lineage.
Kaffara is a penalty imposed on us when we forego a Fast without a pressing reason. Each default earns a kaffara of feeding 60 destitutes for 60days continuously.
Fidya is a provision provided for those who had valid reasons not to Fast, and have no hope of ever being able to redeem it in life. They are allowed to compensate for each of the Fasts they missed by giving away in charity an amount equivalent to a charity of Fitra.
Fitra is a charity Allah calls upon those who have Fasted in the month of Ramadhan to distribute among the needy. Derived from the Arabic word for breaking of Fast- Iftar, we are asked to distribute Fitra in the last week of Ramadhan, or at the latest before the congregational prayer of Eid commences on the day of festival.
In general belief, each Fitra varies from 2.05 kilograms to 3 kilograms of wheat we consume. Those with means can also calculate for the same measure of corn, barley,raisins, dates or rice too. The aim of Fitra is to enable even the most desolate to partake in the joys of the festival.
The essence of all these forms of charity is to discourage greed, pinch-penny attitude and love of worldly gains, and establish an humanitarian society full of care, empathy and charity.