What’s the Difference Between Zakat and Sadaqah?

If we are honest about our love and commitment to Allah (SWT) and those whom He loves, then that would surely result in us helping the poor.

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If we are honest about our love and commitment to Allah (SWT) and those whom He loves, then that would surely result in us helping the poor.

Charity. It’s at the heart of the Muslim faith. The Qur’an instructs us to it and the Sunnah guides us to how it should be done – but charity comes in many forms, including Zakat and Sadaqah.

Differences between Zakat and Sadaqah

Sadaqah is sometimes used to refer to Zakat in the Qur’an, but the two terms generally have different meanings. So what is the difference between Zakat and Sadaqah? Well, quite simply, Zakat is the obligatory form of charity, whereas Sadaqah is voluntary.

What is Zakat?

Zakat is a mandatory charity for every adult Muslim. We are commanded to give it annually and not performing it is a major sin. Zakat – a word which means ‘to purify’ – is collected for the poor.

Our faith asks us to give a minimum of 2.5% of our wealth, as long as we have over a certain amount – known as the nisab. The nisab threshold is the minimum amount of wealth a Muslim must have before he or she becomes eligible to pay Zakat.

Gold and silver are the two values used to calculate the nisab level. The nisab is the value of 87.48 grams of gold or 612.36 grams of silver.

If you’re unsure about whether you’re above the nisab threshold, or need help calculating your Zakat, you can use our free Zakat Calculator here!

Interestingly, in Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen, Zakat is mandated and collected by the state.

What is Sadaqah?

Sadaqah is a voluntary charity with no set amount. It comes from the word ‘Sadq’, meaning truth, lending to the idea that it proves the truth of our faith.

If we are honest about our love and commitment to Allah (SWT) and those whom He loves, then that would surely result in us helping the poor.

We are commanded to give Zakat, but Sadaqah comes from a heart that yearns to please his or her Lord. Sadaqah therefore is a truer reflection of our ability to be selfless, as it’s an extra act of worship we don’t need to do.

Sadaqah, however, goes beyond giving in charity to the poor. All actions of righteousness in Islam is considered as a Sadaqah.

These include, for example:

  • Visiting the sick
  • Attending a funeral
  • To assist someone in need, for example, helping an elderly person cross the road
  • To say a good word, such as consoling someone who has lost a loved one

What is Sadaqah Jariyah?

Sadaqah Jariyah refers to an ongoing charity, which benefits both the recipient and the giver for years.

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If you plant an olive tree for a Palestinian family, that tree will grow and provide a sustainable crop of olives for years to come. According to the teachings of Islam, you will gain blessings each time someone picks an olive from your tree.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, ‘When a person dies, his deeds come to an end except for three: Sadaqah Jariyah (a continuous charity), or knowledge from which benefit is gained, or a righteous child who prays for him’. (Sahih Muslim)

This means that you can give Sadaqah Jariyah on behalf of yourself, your friends and family, or even in memory of a loved one who has passed away.

Giving without fear

The Quran and Sunnah instruct us to be giving, without fear, for the reward of charity is endless in the afterlife.

The key differences between Sadaqah and Zakat are as follows:


  • Given in any amount
  • Given at any time
  • Given to anyone in need of help
  • Can be given on behalf of another person


  • 2.5 % of annual savings
  • Given annually
  • Given to a specific group of people i.e. the poor, the wayfarers, recent reverts to Islam
  • Cannot be given on behalf of anybody

A Muslim should be constantly giving. This was the state of the Prophet (ﷺ); he would give even if he had little.

For over 10 years, Penny Appeal has had a 100% Zakat policy. This means every single penny of your Zakat donation will go directly to those who need it most 100% of the time – giving you 100% of the reward.

The benefits of Zakat and Sadaqah are endless. Donate your Zakat and Sadaqah today!

To learn more about Penny Appeal, click here.

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