Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Question: Can one give Zakat al-Fitr to one’s needy brother or sister? Also, what if one delays it past the Eid prayer?
Answer: In the Hanafi school, it is both permitted and best to give zakat al-fitr to one’s immediate family (besides one’s parents, children, and spouse) if they are needy, unless there are others with more obvious and urgent needs that will remain unmet.
Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya quotes Haddadi’s Siraj al-Wahhaj as stating:
“It is best in zakat, fitr, and vows, to direct one’s money first to one’s [needy and eligible] brothers and sisters, then to their offspring, then to… [other relatives in order of closeness]…” [al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1.190]
Also, it is not sinful to delay paying one’s zakat al-fitr until after the Eid prayer, though it is improper (and somewhat disliked) to do so, because it is recommended to pay it on Eid day, before the prayer, when possible. [Shaykh Zada/Halabi, Majma` al-Anhur Multaqa al-Abhur, 1.228; Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
Shaykh Zada said in Majma` al-Anhur, commenting on Imam Ibrahim al-Halabi s Multaqa al-Abhur, which constitute the clearest commentary and primer, respectively, in the Hanafi school,
“(It is valid to pay it before) the day of Eid (without any difference between [a short] period and [a long] period) even hastened by ten years or more, as is the sound and chosen position mentioned in most recognized texts [of the Hanafi school, f: and this was confirmed as being the fatwa position in Haskafi’s Durr al-Mukhtar and Ibn Abidin’s Radd al-Muhtar]
(It is recommended to pay the fitr charity before Eid prayer) after sunrise.
(However, the obligation) of fitr charity (is not lifted by delaying), and such a delay is not [f: prohibitively] disliked [f: rather, as Ibn Abidin states, it is somewhat disliked], even if long and will still be considered a current performance and not a makeup, though there is impropriety in it.” [Majma` al-Anur, 1.228]
And Allah alone gives success.