Zakat and Sadaqah are forms of worship done by Muslims. The two are different in their own respects.
The word Sadaqah is derived from the Arabic word Sidq (truth). All actions of righteousness in Islam is considered as Sadaqah. Zakat on the other hand, is one of five fundamental foundations of Islam. This makes it a compulsory act, and therefore, all Muslims must give Zakat, provided they meet certain conditions, while Sadaqah is an intended and continuous act of uprightness, which everyone has to carry out no matter what their ability.
Here are 10 key differences between Zakat and Sadaqah, understanding them is crucial as each has its own purpose.
- 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 a type of 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.
- Zakat is monetary whereas Sadaqah can be non-monetary too.
Zakat plays a huge role in establishing Islam in the lives of individuals and the community, by resourcing them in such a way that barriers to ongoing faithfulness at both an individual and collective level are reduced or removed altogether. Zakat has a direct benefit for the payer and society.
As far as the payer is concerned, ones personal Islam is established and strengthened by believing in the obligation of Zakat and paying Zakat accurately. In respect to the society, then the cornerstone of its Islam and subservience to Allah being strengthened is by the holistic, strategic distribution of Zakat.