For ages, Muslims celebrate a number of special days of rejoicing each year. These special days are meant to celebrate and be happy. The two official days of rejoicing in Islam are the 2 eids. These special occasions must be celebrated by every Muslim, not only those who have the means to celebrate.
But not every Muslim have the capacity to celebrate. Some are too poor that they do not even have enough for their daily needs. To help these less fortunate Muslims to be able to celebrate, Islam gave the obligation of fitrana. In this mandate, every Muslim who is sahb-e nisab must pay fitrana before the eid prayer. This money goes to the poor for them to use for the celebration of eid. This is why it is also important to pay fitrana a few days before the eids so that the poor will receive the money before the celebration. This way, they have money to spend by the time for eid prayer arrives.
Fitrana is not the same as zakat. The two are similar obligations. The difference lies in how fitrana is measured and distributed.
The basic calculation of fitrana is 2.5o wheat per head in a family. For example, there are 10 people in the family. Per head (person), the fitrana given is 2.5 kg of wheat. That would be 2.5kg x 10 (people)= 25.0 kg of wheat. This family of 10 must pay the equivalent of 25.0 kg of raw wheat as fitrana to be given to the poor.
This amount is not so large that it is difficult to pay. Muslims are expected to pay the calculated fitrana a few days before the eid. Do not wait for the day of the eid itself before paying. Remember, this money will have to be distributed to the poor so allot a few days leeway.
A lot of people choose to calculate and pay the fitrana in the standard money against the 2.5 kg. However, it is better to calculate and pay according to the current equivalent amount of wheat. This would mean that if the price of wheat increases, the calculated fitrana is also higher. The sahib-e nisab will not be burdened much by the increase because the fitrana 2016 is still a small amount. But this increase will greatly help the poor family receiving it. They will have more money to spend on the day of eid, making their celebration even more joyful.
In Islam, it is an obligation that every Muslim will remember their fellow Muslim brothers and sisters during times of happiness, as well during times of sorrow. If they do not remember other people and forget about the poor, the world will be a sad place for those who have very little in life.