|The jurists hold different views as to the types of food which must be given as Zakat al-Fitr. The Hanbali view is that the kinds of food which can be given are five: dates, raisins, wheat, barley, and dry cottage cheese.
Imam Ahmad is reported to have said that any kind of staple grain or dates are also permissible, even if the above five types are available.
The Malikis and Shafi`is are of the view that it is permissible to give any kind of food as long as it is the main staple in that particular region or the main food of the person. As for the Hanafis, they permit paying the value of Zakat al-Fitr in money.
Ibn Al-Qayyim highlighted these different viewpoints and concluded that the Prophet, peace, and blessings be upon him, prescribed Zakat al-Fitr as one Sa` of dates, barley, raisins, or dry cottage cheese.
These were the main staple kinds of food in Madinah. As for people of other territories, what they should pay is one Sa’ of their staple grain, such as corn, rice, etc. But if their main staple food is other than grain, such as milk, meat, fish, etc., then they should pay one Sa’ of that particular food.
This is the opinion of the majority of scholars and is the preferred point of view since it achieves the purpose of fulfilling the needs of the poor on the day of `Eid with the staple food of their region.