Charity is a big part of Islam, as cemented by the third pillar, Alms (Zakat). Zakat is compulsory and is something every eligible Muslim must pay, but it is by no means the only type of charitable giving. Remaining acts of charity are described as Sadaqah, but like Zakat, there are multiple types of Sadaqah in Islam.
To help you gain a better understanding of what Sadaqah is and the role it plays in Muslims' lives, we’ve put together this guide on how many types of Sadaqah there are and what they mean.
What is Sadaqah?
Put simply, Sadaqah is an act of voluntary charity. This means any act of charity that isn’t Zakat is considered Sadaqah. For a contribution to be considered Sadaqah, one must donate without the expectation of receiving a reward.
What are the Benefits of Giving Sadaqah?
Whilst Sadaqah only qualifies as such if there is no expectation of reward, there are benefits associated with giving Sadaqah in all its forms. Allah (SWT) said:
“Verily those who give Sadaqah, men and women, and lend Allah a goody loan, it shall be increased manifold, and theirs shall be an honorable good reward.” (Quran - 57:18)
“Those who spend in charity will be richly rewarded.” (57:10)
Why is Sadaqah Important in Islam?
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Sadaqah extinguishes sin, just as water extinguishes fire.” (Tirmidhi: 614)
This highlights how, even though Sadaqah is voluntary and the intention of giving it should not be for rewards, Sadaqah does have the benefit of reducing sin and bringing Muslims closer to Allah (SWT). The Qur’an teaches Muslims that they should share what they have with others and not hoard all that Allah (SWT) has blessed them with, and Sadaqah is one of the main ways this can be done.
“O believers give of what We have provided for you.” (Surah Al-Baqara: 254 )
Muslims who give to those less fortunate are shown great mercy by Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgement, but it isn’t just His rewards that should inspire Muslims to give Sadaqah. Sadaqah should be given without the expectation of rewards, as without charitable acts many people would struggle to survive.
Islam holds the belief that if you are in a position to help relieve the pain and suffering of innocent people, you should do so from a humanitarian point of view.
Sadaqah presents the perfect opportunity to do this.
What are the Different Forms of Sadaqah?
Like Zakat, there are two different types of Sadaqah as outlined by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They are:
Sadaqah Jariyah vs Sadaqah
Though the two share a similar name, Sadaqah and Sadaqah Jariyah are different things.
Sadaqah is when a person makes a charitable donation or does something that may benefit someone else, an animal, or the earth. Acts of Sadaqah are a one-off and can include things like:
- Volunteering at a homeless shelter
- Helping a neighbour in need
- Helping someone who is lost
- Smiling at a stranger in the street
These are free acts, though a donation to an animal shelter or a one-off donation to a poor person would also be considered Sadaqah.
Sadaqah Jariyah is an act of charity that provides ongoing benefits. For completing an act of Sadaqah Jariyah, Allah (SWT) gives rewards even after the person has left this Earth. For as long as your charitable act continues to benefit a person, animal, or the planet, you will be bestowed with the relative rewards. Examples of Sadaqah Jariyah include:
- Sponsoring an orphan
- Planting a tree
- Donating to a water well appeal
- Contributing to building a school
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“When a human being dies, all one’s deeds cease, save three: Sadaqah Jâriyah, [religious] knowledge [one leaves behind] from which others benefit, and a righteous child who prays for them.” (Muslim)
Sadaqah vs General Donation
In order for something to qualify as Sadaqah, one must donate without any expectation of getting rewarded in return. If you expect a reward, it will fall into the category of a general donation.
What is the Difference Between Sadaqah and Lillah?
The difference between Sadaqah and Lillah lies in the intent. If you want to make a donation to help a brother or sister in need for no reason other than to alleviate their suffering from the good of your heart, this is Sadaqah. If you want to make a donation purely with the intention of pleasing Allah (SWT), this is Lillah.
What is the Best Time to Give Sadaqah?
Sadaqah may be given at any time of the year as it is non-compulsory, though the benefits of Sadaqah in Ramadan are said to be multiplied, specifically during Laylat al-Qadr. Allah (SWT) shows great mercy and redemption during Laylat al-Qadr, and the rewards of any selfless acts made during this time are akin to those of a thousand months. For this reason, many Muslims choose to donate Sadaqah during the last 10 nights of Ramadan alongside their Zakat donations.
Give Sadaqah with Orphans in Need
You may donate Sadaqah in all its forms to Orphans in Need. If you want to donate Sadaqah, consider donating to our Gaza Emergency appeal or making a Sadaqah donation that we can then use where we see it is most needed at the time. In comparison, if you want to give Sadaqah Jariyah, donate to our Orphan Sponsorship or Global Orphan Care appeals. Whatever you give and with whatever intention you give it with, your generous contribution will, undoubtedly, make a difference to someone in need and be gratefully received.