The Difference between Zakah and Sadaqah

The Difference between Zakah and Sadaqah

All the Praise is due to Allah subhanahu wata’ala. Peace and blessing be to his Messenger, his household and Companions.

Zakah in Arabic means: growth, blessing and purification.

[See Lisaan al-‘Arab, 14/358; 2/399]

Sadaqah comes from the word sidiq (sincerity), i.e. it is a sign of sincerity of faith on the part of the person who gives it.

[See Fath al-Qadeer, 2/399]

With regard to the shar’ie definition:

Zakah means worshipping Allah by giving that which He has enjoined of different kinds of zakah to those who are entitled to them, according to the guidelines prescribed in syari’ah.

Sadaqah means worshipping Allah by giving money [and deeds] without that being made obligatory in syari’ah. The word sadaqah is sometimes used to refer to obligatory zakah.

With regard to the difference between zakah and sadaqah, it is as follows:

1 – Zakah is enjoined in Islam on specific things, which are: gold, silver, crops, fruits, trading goods and livestock, i.e., camels, cattle and sheep.

With regard to sadaqah, it is not obligatory on any kind of wealth; rather it is what a person can offer, without any specific limits or guidelines.

2 – Zakah is subject to the conditions that one full Hijri have passed since acquiring the wealth, and that the wealth meets the minimum threshold (nasab) and it is a specific portion of wealth.

Sadaqah is not subject to any conditions, and it may be given at any time, in any amount.

3 – Allah has enjoined that zakah be given to certain types of people, and it is not permissible to give it to anyone else. They are the people mentioned in the verse:

“As-Sadaqaat (here it means Zakah) are only for the Fuqara’ (poor), and Al Masakin (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause (i.e. for Mujahidun — those fighting in a holy battle), and for the wayfarer (a traveller who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise” [Al-Tawbah 9:60]

With regard to sadaqah, it may be given to those mentioned in the verse on zakah and to others.

4 – Whoever dies and owes zakah, his heirs must pay it from his wealth, and that takes precedence over the will (wasiyah) and inheritance.

As for sadaqah, there are no such obligations with regard to it.

5 – The one who withholds zakah is to be punished, as it says in the hadeeth narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no owner of treasure who does not pay his zakah, but it will be heated in the Fire of Hell and made into plates with which his sides and forehead will be branded until Allah passes judgement between His slaves on a Day the length of which will be like fifty thousand years, then he see shown his path and whether it leads to Paradise or to Hell. And there is no owner of camels, who does not pay zakah on them, but a soft sandy plain will be prepared for him and they will be made to step on him. Every time the last of them has gone the first of them will return, until Allah passes judgement between His slaves on a Day the length of which will be like fifty thousand years, then he will see his path and whether it leads to Paradise or to Hell. And there is no owner of sheep who does not pay zakah on them but a soft sandy plain will be prepared for him, and he will find none of them missing, with twisted horns or without horns or with broken horns, and they will be made to gore him with their horns and trample him with their hooves. Every time the last of them has gone the first of them will return, until Allah passes judgement between His slaves on a Day the length of which will be like fifty thousand years, then he will see his path and whether it leads to Paradise or to Hell…” [Muslim (987)]

With regard to sadaqah, the one who fail to give it will not be punished.

6 – According to the four schools of law, it is not permissible to give zakah to one’s ascendants or descendents. Ascendants include one’s mother, father, grandfathers and grandmothers; descendents include one’s children and their children.

Sadaqah may be given to one’s ascendants and descendants.

7 – It is not permissible to give zakah to one who is rich or who is strong and able to earn a living.

It was narrated that ‘Ubaidallah ibn ‘Adiyy said: Two men told me that they came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) during the Farewell Pilgrimage when he was distributing the zakah and asked him for some of it. He looked them up and down, and saw that they were strong and able-bodied. He said, “If you wish, I will give you some, but those who are rich or strong and able to earn have no share of it.”

[Narrated by Abu Dawud, 1633; al-Nasa’i, 2598; classified as saheeh by Imam Ahmad and others.]

[See Talkhis al-Haber, 3/108 ]

Sadaqah may be given to those who are rich and those who are strong and able to earn.

8 – In the case of zakah, it is better for it to be taken from the rich of a land and given to their poor. Many scholars are of the view that it is not permissible to send it to another country unless that serves an interest.

But charity may be spent on those who are near and those who are far.

9 – It is not permissible to give zakah to kuffaar and mushrikeen.

Sadaqah may be given to kuffaar and mushrikeen.

Allah says : “And they give food, in spite of their love for it (or for the love of Him), to the Miskeen (the poor), the orphan, and the captive” [Al-Insan, 76:8]

Al-Qurtubi said: In Dar al-Islam (the Muslim lands), a captive could only be a mushrik.

10 – It is not permissible for a Muslim to give zakah to his wife. Ibn al-Mundhir narrated that there was scholarly consensus on this issue.

But sadaqah may be given to one’s wife.

These are some of the differences between zakah and sadaqah.

The word sadaqah may be applied to all kinds of good deeds. Al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his Saheeh: “Chapter: every good deed is a charity” then he narrated from Jabir ibn ‘Abdallah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Every good deed is a charity.”

Ibn Battaal said: “This hadeeth indicates that every good thing that a person does or says is recorded for him as an act of charity”.

Al-Nawawi said: The Prophet’s words “Every good deed is a charity” means that it is like charity in offering reward.

And Allah knows best.

[Excerpted from Fatwa No: 9449 published in Islam Q&A]

About Md Radzi Ahmad
A retired Malaysian civil servant. Served the Malaysian government for thirty-one years. Posted to London, Rangoon, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bangkok. Born in Kampong Hutan Kandeh, Alor Star, Kedah. Educated at Sultan Abdul Hamid College, Alor Star and University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Currently resides in Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan,Malaysia.Blessed with three children, a son, two daughters, daughter in law and two grandaughters.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: