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What’s the difference between Zakat and Sadaqah?

Sadaqah is an entirely voluntary charity that can be performed at any time of year, and any amount can be given. However, Zakat is an obligatory charity due from every Muslim whose total possessions (cash, gold, silver, shares) meet or exceed the nisab threshold on a yearly basis.

Essentially, the difference between Zakat and Sadaqah is that Zakat is obligatory and one of the five pillars of Islam while Sadaqah is simply a kind gesture made with the intention of helping others.

Zakat  has a number of stipulations regarding the type of assistance it can provide. However,  Sadaqa  can be used for any project or program which is of benefit to people. 


Six differences between Zakat and Sadaqah:

  • Zakat is obligatory. Whereas Sadaqah is voluntary.
  • Zakat is performed once a year has passed over the zakatable assets. However, Sadaqah can be performed at any time.
  • Only people who meet the eligibility criteria can receive Zakat donations. Whereas anyone can receive Sadaqah donations.
  • A Muslim must be eligible to pay Zakat. However, this is not the case for donating Sadaqah.
  • Zakat is a fixed amount (2.5%). Whereas with Sadaqah a Muslim can donate as much or as little as they wish.
  • Sadaqah and Sadaqah Jariyah can be a means of ongoing reward for a Muslim who passes on from this world. Whereas Zakat is a charity you can only perform whilst alive.


What is Zakat? 

Zakat, or almsgiving, officially means “that which purifies.” It is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with prayer, fasting, pilgrimage (Hajj) and belief in Allah (SWT) and His Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (SAW). For every sane, adult Muslim who owns wealth over a certain amount – known as the  nisab  – he or she must pay a minimum amount of 2.5% of that wealth as  Zakat .

There are seven categories of people who are eligible to receive Zakat:

  • The poor and needy
  • Administrators of Zakat
  • Those whose hearts have been recently reconciled
  • Those who have been enslaved
  • Those in debt
  • In the cause of God
  • Travellers (including refugees)

Zakat must be given annually, as long as you have held wealth exceeding the nisab threshold for one Islamic calendar year. 


What is Sadaqah? 

The literal translation is ‘righteousness’. However, in the modern-day context, it has come to mean ‘voluntary charity’. Sadaqah is a righteous behaviour, which shows sincerity of faith.

It can be everything from an act of kindness to a monetary donation. For example, Sadaqa can be a voluntary donation. It can be helping someone in need, giving a smile, or it can even be removing a harmful object from your path.  Aqiqah ,  Fidya   and   Kaffarah  are also examples of Sadaqah.

Some examples of Sadaqa include:

  • Donating money to someone in need
  • Making food for others
  • Teaching Qur’an
  • Smiling at others
  • Watering a plant
  • Taking care of an animal
  • Removing something harmful from someone’s path


Benefits of Zakat and Sadaqah

Both Zakat and Sadaqah are extremely rewarding in this life and the next for the giver. Its effects are even greater for the receiver, supporting orphans, widows and vulnerable people in need through life-changing aid including food packs, clean water, medical care, and so much more! 

We know that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was very generous. He (PBUH) would give his food, money, and belongings to the poor and often let himself go hungry. In summary, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had impeccable character. Therefore, it is an immense reward in following his exemplary behaviour and showing Allah (SWT) that we are grateful for the gifts he has brought onto our own lives.

By donating Zakat and Sadaqah regularly, you can inshAllah get closer to Allah (SWT) and improve your own standing of wellbeing and peace in this life and the hereafter – while easing the suffering of millions.

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