What is the Difference Between Zakat and Sadaqah?

There are many forms of charity in Islam. The two most common are Zakat and Sadaqah. Are you unsure of the differences between the two? This handy guide breaks it all down!

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There are many forms of charity in Islam. The two most common are Zakat and Sadaqah. Are you unsure of the differences between the two? This handy guide breaks it all down!

Muslims are one of the most charitable communities on earth, and always have been!

In 2018, the Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) published a finding on ‘giving’ in the Muslim community. The study concluded that £130 million had been donated by British Muslims in just one month alone – the month of Ramadan – making them the most charitable community in the UK.

That’s a staggering statistic, and it’s no wonder considering the emphasis and importance Islam places on giving charity. In Islam, there are several different types of charity. Some are obligatory and some are voluntary, but both have the power to change the world and earn the pleasure of Allah (SWT).

Through this emphasis on charity, Muslims are taught that those who are in need have a right over those who have wealth and that it is a test of their trust in Allah (SWT).

The Qur’an and Hadith both refer to charity and how to give it in copious amounts. The ultimate example was set for us in the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In a famous hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:

He is not a believer whose stomach is filled while his neighbour goes hungry.”


Over 1400 years ago, the beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) defined the different types of charity as ordained by Allah (SWT). The two most common types of charity in Islam are Zakat and Sadaqah.

What is Zakat?

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam and central to the Islamic faith. Zakat is the prescription upon every eligible Muslim to pay 2.5% of their surplus wealth to those in need. However, there are strict rules around eligibility when it comes to paying Zakat.

Here are a few examples of the rules surrounding Zakat:

  1. To be eligible to pay Zakat, a Muslim must have ownership of the Nisab (minimum amount of wealth) for one lunar year.
  2. There are eight categories of people who are eligible to receive Zakat.

Zakat is powerful and has the ability to eradicate poverty! If everyone in the world paid 2.5% of their wealth, humanity would eradicate poverty and end world hunger. Empower yourself and others with everything you need to know about how to pay your Zakat by using our free, downloadable Zakat guide.

It is important to note that there are two different types of Zakat: Zakat and Zakat al-fitr or Fitrana.

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Both these forms of Zakat are obligatory. However, Zakat is a fixed amount based on a set criterion of who is eligible to pay it, receive it and what wealth it is due on. Fitrana however, is obliged of every Muslim regardless of their eligibility, which often entails paying on behalf of family members.

What is Sadaqah?

Sadaqah is a form of voluntary charity and a highly rewardable act in the sight of Allah (SWT). As it is not obligatory for Muslims, it is a testament to their willingness to sacrifice for the sake of Allah (SWT) in aid of good and helping others.

Sadaqah is also a beautiful form of charity, as it’s not limited to monetary donations. As relayed to us by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

Every good deed is charity. Verily, it is a good deed to meet your brother with a cheerful face, and to pour what is left from your bucket into the vessel of your brother.”


This means that so many acts of goodness with the intention of doing it for the sake of Allah (SWT) can be considered charity.

Sadaqah Jariyah is another form of Sadaqah and voluntary charity and describes a donation that has ongoing benefits for others. Some examples include:

  1. Building a well
  2. Building a mosque
  3. Teaching the Qur’an or any useful skill

Find out more about the incredible and sustainable solutions Islamic Relief have been funding for communities in need across the world through your Sadaqah and Sadaqah Jariyah donations!

Differences between Zakat and Sadaqah

There are key differences between Zakat and Sadaqah, namely that Zakat is obligatory while Sadaqah is not. However, they are both important tenets of the Islamic faith.

To make things easier, we’ve put together a list of five differences between Zakat and Sadaqah:

  1. Zakat is obligatory whilst Sadaqah is voluntary.
  2. Zakat is a fixed amount of monetary wealth, whilst Sadaqah can be any good deed that benefits another.
  3. Zakat is due at a specific time, whereas Sadaqah can be given at any time.
  4. One must be eligible to pay Zakat, whereas anyone can pay Sadaqah.
  5. One must be eligible to receive Zakat, whereas anyone can receive Sadaqah except Sayeds (descendants of the Prophet).



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