ZAKAH AND ZAKAT AL-FITR
We are in the blessed month of Ramadan, the month of fasting, extra prayers, and charity. Our Creator, Allah SWT, requires us to fulfill our obligation to (1) Him, the Lord of the universe, and (2) his creation, with humans being the most important of those creations. We can accomplish this by (1) worshipping Allah and (2) giving charity (both obligatory and voluntary).
Both Zakah and Zakat al-Fitr are obligatory upon every Muslim who fulfills the requirements.
Zakah means growth, increase, and purification. It is a means of cleansing halal income and wealth. It is given once every year, at any time during the year, and is required for every person who meets the Nisab. Giving Zakah is a form of worship and a good deed, for which the reward is greatly increased during this blessed month. For this reason, many Muslims prefer to give their required Zakah during Ramadan in order to maximize their rewards.
Zakat al-Fitr (or fitrana) is a form of Zakah given during Ramadan to needy, poor, and destitute Muslims in order to give them the means to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. It must be in the hands of the recipient before Eid prayers in order to fulfill its purpose. Every adult Muslim who possesses food in excess of their needs must pay zakat al-Fitr.