Q: What are the differences between Zakat and Sadaqah?
A: Athough Sadaqah is a broad term which at times refers to Zakat in certain texts, Sadaqah is commonly used to refer to general charity.
The main differences between Zakat and Ṣadaqah are illustrated below:
Zakat is obligatory once a year whilst Sadaqah is never obligatory
Zakat is paid on specific assets such as: gold, silver, cash, business assets, agricultural produce, livestock, treasure troves whereas Sadaqah has no such specification in terms of assets.
Certain liabilities can be deducted from a Zakat calculation whereas Sadaqah has no calculation in which liabilities are deducted.
Zakat was collected and distributed by the Islamic government whereas Sadaqah is always a personal act of kindness.
According to some schools of law, Zakat can be forcefully taken. The state can take punitive measures on the non-payers of Zakat. Whereas, Sadaqah is never enforced upon people.
Abandoning Zakat payments is tantamount to treason whereas not giving Sadaqah is not sinful.
Zakat has thresholds and bands (Nisab) whereas Sadaqah has no thresholds.
Zakat was generally distributed where it was collected whereas Sadaqah can be spent anywhere.
Zakat has specific areas and categories for spend whereas Sadaqah does not have defined recipients
And Allah knows best!
Mufti Faraz Adam