Eid Celebration

Giving Zakat al-Fitr in Cash and Sending it to Other Countries

Respected scholars, As-salamu `alaykum. For a long time, I used to pay the value of zakat al-fitr, which is a saa` (about 2.176 kg) of the food mentioned in the Prophetic hadith for myself and my family in money. I usually send this money to the poor kindred, relatives and neighbors in the occupied territories inPalestine. I was quite sure that this act is permissible, relying on many fatwas I heard from you and from many other scholars such as Sheikh `Abdullah ibn Zayd Al-Mahmud, the chief of the Shari`ah Courts in Qatar.However, one day while I was listening to the radio, I heard one of the sheikhs state that paying the value of zakat al-fitr in cash is not permissible in any case; and if anyone does so, his zakat is invalid because it is contrary to the Sunnah. Moreover, the sheikh launched a severe attack on scholars who permitted paying it in money and accused them of being contradictory to the texts of Shari`ah.Frankly, I became confused after hearing this fatwa, especially after I heard a hadith that states "Fasting in the month of Ramadan lies suspended between the earth and heaven; it is only raised (to heaven) by zakat al-fitr." This means that the fasting of my family lies suspended all during these years and was not accepted! Then what is the value of our acts of worship if we perform them while they will be invalid or unaccepted, as the sheikh said? What should the layman Muslim do when the scholars differ over a certain fatwa?I hope you disburden my mind and the minds of millions who pay the value of zakat al-fitr in cash. Jazakum Allahu khayran.