Question 21: With regard to Zakaat-ul-Fitr (obligatory charity paid before the Festival of Breaking the Fast) in Europe and the United States; is it permissible to collect it and then send it to the Mujaahids (ones fighting in the Cause of Allaah) in some Islaamic countries? Some people claim that this is not permissible and that it should be paid in cereals and distributed among the needy who are not found in the countries where we are, while the Mujaahids are in dire need of it.
Answer: Zakaat-ul-Fitr is obligatory on every Muslim who witnesses sunset on the last day of Ramadaan. It is permissible to pay it one or two days before `Eed-ul-Fitr (the Festival of Breaking the Fast). However, it is Mustahab (desirable) to pay it on the `Eed-ul-Fitr day before offering Salaat-ul-`Eed (the Festival Prayer), for this is what the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions (may Allaah be pleased with them) did. Collecting Zakaat-ul-Fitr from the beginning of Ramadaan is contrary to the Sunnah (whatever reported from the Prophet) and the action of the Companions (may Allaah be pleased with them), so it is not permissible to ask people to pay it before its due time... read more here.