The price of wheat in Newham, London – Ramadan, 1438 AH (2017 CE)

This report outlines the price of wheat in Newham (London) during Ramadan, 1438 (July, 2017) and the subsequent recommendation for the rate of sadaqat al-fitr and fidya.

The recommended price for sadaqat al-fitr and fidya in Newham is £2.90. It should not be lower than £2.25. This is based on the retail price for 2.32 kilogams of wheat.

This price is specific to Newham. The price is low due to a few big warehouses. The normal price for 2kg starts around £3.00 which is common around London – other localities in London have reported around £3.50. Localities may differ and so one should consult the local ulama in their area. Wifaqul Ulama has set the benchmark price nationally in the UK at £2.00 based on 1.667kg as the standard.

One may give sadaqat al-fitr anytime during Ramadan and if eligible must pay before Eid Salah. The ruling and recommendation are in accordance to the Hanafi fiqh. People following other approaches should consult their respective scholars.

Rationale

The ahnaf allow for the payment of sadaqat al-fitr in cash.1 This value must be calculated from the retail price of wheat, barley, dates or raisins available in the giver’s locality without incurring added cost. Hence, bulk or stock market pricing will not suffice unless its value is higher than the local price.

In England, wheat is used as the chosen measure as it is often the cheapest. The ahnaf state that half a sa’ be given for wheat or its value in price.  In principle, the pricing may be done using the derivative of wheat such as flour or cereal so long as it is not cheaper than raw wheat. For a detail discussion, read ‘The standard for pricing sadaqat al-fitr‘ by the erudite shaykh, Mufti Umar Faruq Lawharwi (may Allah Almighty protect him and raise his rank).

Research by notable muftiyan have suggested differing weights which form the volume of half a sa’; 1.575, 1.590, 1.636, 1.64 and 2.32 kilograms. The majority of scholars opt between 1.5 and 1.7 kg. This is a barley based measure. Accordingly,  half a sa’ is a volume which can be filled with 1.7 kg of husked barley. Some, citing caution, have chosen 2.32 kg of wheat based on the finding of the Late Mufti A’zam Rashid Ahmad Ludhyanwi (may Allah have mercy upon him). Mufti Umar Faruq Lawharwi recommends 1.75 kilograms of wheat for sadaqat al-fitr . There is ofcourse no restriction to giving more.

Based on the current research, 1.75 kg is a reasonable and objective recommendation which is also relatively cautious.

The reason for opting to choose the higher than 1.6 kg is because barley is denser than wheat. In recent tests, we found the difference to be around 30 to 35 percent. For instance, a container which can hold 1.6kg of husk barley should be able to hold up to 2.1kg of wheat. Mufti Rashid Ahmad Ludhyanwi put the factor closer to 20 percent which is in keeping with Mufti Umar Faruq ‘s suggestion. Hence, when measuring wheat it may be better to use the weight given by Mufti Rashid Ahmad Ludhyanwi which is 2.32 kg. This is the reasonably cautious and in the matter of charity, the Shariah gives that which benefits the poor preference. However, if one chooses to pay with the lower measure it will be permissible.

Currently, the price of wheat flour cannot be used as a measure as it is significantly cheaper than whole wheat in London. One can purchase 1.5kg of wheat flour from Tesco for 55p compared to whole wheat, the retail price of which is stated in the table below.

At present, the price of bulgar wheat can be used as it is generally more expensive than whole wheat. The average price for 1kg is £2.45 compared to £1.58 for whole wheat. The big retailers such as Sainsbury, Tesco, and Morrisons sell 1kg bulgar wheat for £2.30. However, I found one shop, Cost Saver in East Ham, which sells which sells 1kg Bulgar wheat for £1.43, hence, this price will not be allowed.

It is not necessary for the poor to actually buy the wheat but it should be possible for them to buy the wheat if they so chose.

Retail price

I visited most of the groceries in Romford Road, Barking Road, High Street North, High Street South, Plashet Grove, Plashet Road, Katherine Road, Green Street, Upton Lane,  and Woodgrange Road. These major roads intersect the electoral wards in Newham which have a significant Muslim population.

ShopPriceQuantity£ per KG
Mina Store£2.252000g£1.13
Swathi Cash & Carry£1.691500g£1.13
Ali Cash and Carry£1.751500g£1.17
Sakthi Cash & Carry£1.791500g£1.19
Seelans Superstores£1.991500g£1.33
Himalaya Food Store£2.291500g£1.53
Mina Store£0.65500g£1.30
T S B Cash & Carry£0.69500g£1.38
Kapadokya Food Centre£1.391000g£1.39
Roman Express£1.391000g£1.39
Sakthi Cash & Carry£0.79500g£1.58
Madina Store£0.79500g£1.58
Madina Store£2.491500g£1.66
Bereket£1.691000g£1.69
Seelan Superstore£0.99500g£1.98
Swathi Cash & carry£0.99500g£1.98
B B Fatima£0.99500g£1.98
Toor Store£2.291500g£1.99
Holland & Barretts£1.49500g£2.98

I have not found any place in the borough where they sell wheat loosely. Rather they are sold in packages of 500g, 900g, 1000g, 1500g and 2000g.

So irrespective if one chose the measure 1.575, 1.590, 1.636, 1.64 or 1.75 kg, to actually enable purchase, one will have to give either 1.5kg or 2kg as the exact amount is not available locally. In consideration of the poor, I chose to round upwards.

The cheapest I was actually able to purchase 2kg was £2.25.

The cheapest I was actually able to purchase 2.5kg was £2.90

Mina Store sells 2kg for £2.25 and 500g for £0.65.2 This is the cheapest I found. The stores in High Street North and Romford Road (Manor Park) have the best prices.

As a way of comparison. The average price for whole wheat is £1.58

Many choose to extrapolate the price based on the cheapest price of 1 kilogram. Mina store sells 500g for £0.65 so 1 kilogram will be £1.30 which is the cheapest one can actually buy. Then multiply it with 1.75 or 2.32, the cost of 1.75kg of wheat will be £2.28 and the cost of 2.32kg will be £3.02. This is problematic as we have seen that one can purchase 2.5kg for £2.90. To alleviate this problem, it is may be more prudent to extrapolate only when needed as is shown next.

Alternatively, one can take the price of 2kg of wheat which is available for £2.25 and extrapolate the remainder using a 500g bag. To reach 2.32 kilograms we are 320g short which in turn is 64% of a 500g bag. Consequently, 320g of wheat will be £0.42. So the sadaqat al-fitr for 2.32kg with this method will be £2.67.4 Similarly, to calculate using 1.75kg of wheat, one may multiply a 500g bag by 3.5 which is £2.28 as before.

It may be prudent to reconsider as to whether the price should be extrapolated as it is not practical to actually buy it for that price. Allah knows best.

Bulk and market price

The bulk or stock market price will not be used for calculating the price of sadaqat al-fitr or any other financial obligations required as an ibadat. However, for the sake of completeness, I will mention it here.

In the European stock markets, the price of wheat is stated per tonne (1000 kg).

The price for July (2017) is £142.95 per tonne. So, the price for wheat is assumed to be £0.15 per kilogram.

In the United States, the price is given per bushel. A bushel of wheat is 60 pounds (27.2155 kg). A bushel of wheat is expected to yield 42 pounds (19.0509 kg) of flour.5

In terms of buying in bulk, I could not find big bags of wheat in the locality. BuyWholeFoodsOnline Ltd sells a 25kg bag for £28.55 plus £4.99 for postage. Based on this, 1kg will be £0.88. So if one were to extrapolate  1.75 kg or 2.32 kg, it will be £1.53 and £2.03 respectively. When one add the postage it will be £6.52 and £7.02. However, this is a nonsensical calculation as in reality it not possible to get that price unless the poor is given more than £30.

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Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
26 Ramadan 1438
21 June 2017

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1. This may not be allowed in the other schools of fiqh. Please seek advice from the qualified scholars respectively if you don’t adhere to the Hanafi school.

2. I recently visited Mina Store and they had a discount on whole wheat. They were selling 2kg whole wheat for £1.65. Hence, added with 500g for £0.65, one can purchase 2.5kg for £2.20. If one paid that amount, sadaqat al-fitr or fidya will suffice. It may be wise to check that the discount is continuing before one adopts this price.

3.

4 Calculated 65*0.64

5. An acre, optimally on average, can yield around 60 bushels (3600 pounds or 1632.933kg).  In the middle ages, an acre was the size of land which one man can plough with an ox in a day. In metric units, it is 4046.86 square meters. In layman’s term, it is 60% the size of a football pitch, 16 tennis courts or a car park with a capacity for 150 cars.

 

Further Reading

Lawharwi, Mft. Umar Faruq. (2015). The standard for pricing sadaqat al-fitr. (Nawhami, Muhammad Saifur Rahman, Trans.). Islamic Studies Bulletin (DIBAJ), Issue 4. Available at http://uloom.com/dibaj/article/150716502

Shabbir, Mufti Yusuf. (May, 2017). Sadaqah al-Fitr Calculation for Blackburn. Nawadir. Accessed (21 June 2017) https://nawadir.org/2017/05/29/sadaqah-al-fitr-calculation-for-blackburn/

Nawhami, Muhammad Saifur Rahman. (2012). The economic classes in Islam. Islamic Studies Bulletin (DIBAJ), Issue 1. Available at http://uloom.com/dibaj/article/120811501

 

Cite: 170621501