What's the difference between Zakat and Sadaqah?

What's the difference between Zakat and Sadaqah?

  • HasanaH

Giving that is required and giving that is encouraged for the sake of Allah (SWT) is outlined in Islam as Zakat and Sadaqah. In their simplest forms, Zakat is mandatory for every Muslim. Whereas Sadaqah is an encouraged, voluntary deed. While both earn the pleasure and reward of Allah (SWT), there are distinct differences between these two forms of charitable giving. 

In today’s article we are going to look at the differences and similarities between Zakat and Sadaqah.

What is Zakat?

As one of the five pillars of Islam, Zakat is an act of worship for anyone who has savings above a specific threshold (Nisab). Zakat is considered mandatory within the Muslim faith. There are two types of Zakat, Zakat-ul-Maal and Zakat-ul-Fitr. In this article, we explore Zakat-ul-Maal which is based on assets in savings. Any adult of sound mind who surpasses Nisab within the previous year is required to pay Zakat. 

Nisab is the minimum amount of savings in assets  required to satisfy the needs of the individual and their family. Typically, gold and silver are used to calculate the Nisab threshold (87.48 grams of gold or 612.36 grams of silver). The minimum amount of Zakat an individual must give is 2.5% but there is no upper limit as to how much an individual can donate. Zakat is not a one-time donation. Every year a Muslim meets Nisab they must calculate and fulfill their Zakat requirement.

There are very specific guidelines for who can receive Zakat donations. This is outlined in the Quran. The typical recipients of Zakat aid include:

  • Al-Fuqara: The Poor
  • Al-Masakin: The Needy
  • Al-‘Amilina ‘Alayha: Administrators of Zakat
  • Al-Mu’allafati-Qulubuhum: Reconciliation of Hearts
  • Fir-Riqab: For those in Bondage
  • Al-Gharimin: Those in Debt
  • Fi-Sabilillah: In the Cause of Allah
  • Ibnas-Sabil: The Wayfarer

 What is Sadaqah?

Sadaqah is any voluntary act of righteousness, kindness, or generosity made with zero expectation for anything in return. Unlike Zakat, there are also no financial requirements to be met to give Sadaqah. Anyone who has the means to provide Sadaqah and who feels compelled to do so can give it. There is no timeline assigned to complete these acts, although acts increase during the holy month of Ramadan. There are also no minimum or maximum requirements for Sadaqah. 

 Sadaqah can be monetary or non-monetary donations for those in need or acts of service and kindness for others. Sadaqah can be split into two further acts of kindness, Sadaqah itself is considered a short-term gesture and Sadaqah Jariyah, which is a gesture that continues to give for the long-term. 

While Sadaqah can include monetary or physical donations, such as food or clothing, there are many different types of Sadaqah, which makes the act of Sadaqah open to every Muslim.

  • Feeding others
  • Making prayer (dua) for others
  • Donating to someone in need
  • Protecting someone from something harmful
  • Visiting and caring for the sick
  • Providing directions to someone in need of them
  • Smiling at others, greeting others, and encouraging others
  • Supporting those in need
  • And so much more 

Differences and similarities between Zakat and Sadaqah

Zakat and Sadaqah are different acts of charity. For both, an individual must start with intent to perform each of these acts for the sake of Allah (SWT). Both acts benefit the others and those in need, and both acts are designed to help the giver become closer to Allah (SWT). Additionally, both Zakat and Sadaqah act as purification as the reminder of a Muslim’s wealth from which they spend.

Despite these commonalities, there are a few significant differences between these two charitable acts.

  1. Zakat is a mandatory pillar of Islam, while Sadaqah is voluntary.
  2. Zakat is performed annually for those who meet nisab. However, Sadaqah can be performed any time of year at any amount..
  3. Only people who meet specific criteria can receive Zakat. Whereas anyone can receive and benefit from Sadaqah.
  4. A Muslim must be eligible to pay Zakat, but anyone can donate Sadaqah.
  5. Zakat is a fixed amount of at least 2.5%. For Sadaqah an individual can donate as little or as much as they desire.
  6. 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.

HasanaH for Charitable Guidance

Whether you are looking for advice on Zakat or Sadaqah we can help. At Hasanah, we provide information to help donors make informed decisions based on reliable data. We leverage our experience to help others direct their contributions to credible projects aligned with their priorities and values. By providing access to judgment free guidance, we empower donors to achieve meaningful impact. Discover

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