What is Sadaqah?

Sadaqah also describes a voluntary charitable act towards another being, whether through generosity, love, compassion or faith. Therefore these acts are not necessarily physical or monetary. Simple good deeds such as a smile, or a helping hand, are seen as acts of Sadaqah.

Even a smile is Charity

Sadaqah (charity) is the concept of giving charity voluntarily fi sabillilah  فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّٰهِ(for the cause of Allah).

Zakat and Sadaqah

While Zakat is an obligatory charity due from every Muslim on a yearly basis, Sadaqah is an entirely voluntary charity which can be performed at any time of year, and any amount can be given.

Unlike Zakat, which has a number of stipulations regarding the type of assistance it can provide, Sadaqah can be used for any project or programme which is of benefit to people.

A number of sayings of the Prophet (SAW) emphasise the benefits of giving Sadaqah.


“Sadaqah extinguishes sin as water extinguishes fire.” [Tirmidhi]


An important concept within Islam is the idea of Sadaqah Jariyah – an ‘ongoing charity’.

The Prophet (SAW) said:

“When a person dies, all their deeds end except three: a continuing charity, beneficial knowledge and a child who prays for them.” [Muslim]

Therefore, many Muslims are eager to give charity which will continue to have benefit to people after their death, and continue to earn them reward.

Any charity which continues to have positive effects on a community in the long-term, beyond immediate relief, can be considered a Sadaqah Jariyah: building homes, schools and hospitals; installing durable water systems; turning an area of land into a farm which continues to give crops for years to come; helping a poor family start a business which continues generating profit for future generations.


What is the difference between Sadaqah and Sadaqah Jariyah?

Essentially, Sadaqah Jariyah is what today’s international development sector calls ‘sustainable development’, promoted by Islam over 1400 years ago, and encompasses the majority of the sustainable development programmes carried out by both Islamic and other NGOs today.


What is the difference between Sadaqah and Lillah?

There are several different types of Sadaqah such as Aqiqah, and Kaffarah. Lillah means ‘for Allah’ and is also a type of Sadaqah donation. However, instead of being made to an individual or persons in need, it can be made to an institution.

Similarly to Sadaqah, it is not compulsory, and there is no minimum amount and no restriction on who can receive funds. Therefore, this is unlike Zakat, which has a number of stipulations on how it can be spent.


What are the benefits of Sadaqah?

Sadaqah is a voluntary act of charity that is given for the sole purpose of pleasing Allah (SWT) and without expecting anything in return.

We know that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was very generous, giving his food, money, and belongings to the poor and often letting himself go hungry. The Prophet (PBUH) had impeccable character and there is immense reward in following his exemplary behaviour.

There are also numerous Hadith which highlight its importance.


“Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” (Tirmidhi)


“When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); a knowledge which is beneficial, or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (for the deceased).” (Muslim)


“The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.” (Tirmidhi)


What does Sadaqah mean?

The literal translation of Sadaqah is ‘righteousness’ but in the modern-day context, it has come to mean ‘voluntary charity’. The word stems from ‘sidq’, which means sincerity. This suggests that Sadaqah is a righteous behaviour, which shows sincerity of faith.


Why is Sadaqah important in Islam?

Sadaqah not only purifies one’s own wealth, but also helps to establish a flow of wealth in society. Muslims are bonded together by the good deed of giving, as well as the economic stability in communities through the distribution of wealth. Therefore, Muslims are instructed by Allah (SWT) to try to give for His sake and spread generosity.

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