In common with all faiths, Islam requires that an individual give charity to help others, as a religious obligation. On this page, we have collected some of the most common forms of giving that will simultaneously help you fulfil this obligation, and earn your reward in the Hereafter.


Sadaqah (صدقة) translates into “charity” or “benevolence”. Generally, it is understood to mean “voluntary charity“. In the Quran, the word means voluntary offering, whose amount is at the will of the “benefactor”.

There are very many references in the texts which point to the excellence of sadaqah as an act of worship. For instance:

As per the Qur’an:

  • Those who spend (in charity) of their goods by night and by day, in secret and in public have their reward with their Rabb and they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve.” [Al-Baqara, 2:274]
    • “Indeed, the charitable men and the charitable women and [those who] have loaned Allah a goodly loan – it will be multiplied for them, and they will have a noble reward.” [Al-Hadid, 57:18]

As per the Hadith:

  • “Sadaqah wipes out sins like water extinguishes fire” – [Tirmidhi]
    • “Give charity (sadaqah) without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” – [Tirmidhi]

What are the adab (etiquette) of Sadaqah?

  • It should only be given for the pure intention of pleasing Allah
  • It should be from one’s own legitimate possessions and property and should be from what (possessions) you love

Who is entitled to Sadaqah donations?

Surah al-Tawbah [6:90] categorises eight types of people who are entitled to receive Sadaqah. They are:

  1. The poor (al-fuqarâ)
  2. The needy (al-masâkîn)
  3. The officials appointed over the needy
  4. Those whose hearts have been reconciled to Islam (al-mu’allafa qulubuhum).
  5. Those slaves and captives who seek freedom
  6. Those who are overburdened with debt
  7. Those who are wayfarers (travellers in need)
  8. In the cause of Allah to spread the message of Islam

What are the benefits of Sadaqah?

Sadaqah has both personal and public benefits:

Personal (spiritual) Public (social)
It purifies the heart from the sins of malice, greed, and the obsessive love of wealth It enhances the well-being of all people in society
It increases wealth It helps in fulfilling the requirement of the poor
It removes the trials of misfortune It lightens the debt of the debtors
It helps in crossing the bridge of
It helps in taking care of those who have recently accepted Islam
It increases the chances of attaining heaven It helps the stranded to complete their journey
It helps in the healing of various sicknesses



This is translated as “continuous sadaqah”, whose benefits accrue until the Day of Judgment. This is the kind of sadaqah that extends beyond even one’s own lifetime, as explained in the following hadith: “If a human dies, then his good deeds stop except for three: a Sadaqa Jariyah, a beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him.” – Sahih Muslim

Such acts can include the following: enabling someone’s education, building a masjid or orphanage, digging a well, etc.


Zakat falls under one of the five pillars of Islam. As such, it is an obligatory act, as opposed to sadaqah, which is voluntary.

Another aspect of zakat is the fact that it only become compulsory if one’s wealth reaches a minimum threshold called the nisab – according to modern calculations, this is approximately the equivalent of 85 grams of gold. When the nisab amount has been reached annually, 2.5% of the value has to be given away in zakat.

Several verses in the Qur’an stress the importance of zakat. For instance, part of Surah al-Araf [7:156] states the following: “[Allah] said: My punishment – I afflict with it whom I will, but My mercy encompasses all things. So I will decree it [i.e. His mercy] for those who fear Me and give zakah and those who believe in Our verses.


Fidyah (الفدية‎) and Kaffara (كفارة‎) are donations made when an Islamic rule is violated. The donations can be of food, or money, and are used for those in need. The Qur’an distinguishes between the two, but also unifies them into one act of remedy.

Fidyah is a means of compensation for an unintentional missed action or violation of the rules for observing a pillar of Islam. For instance, fidyah is due when someone is ill or of extreme age (old or young), and is unable to fast for the required number of days, nor will be able to make up for the fast. In Ramadan, the Fidyah must be paid for each fast missed.

Kaffara refers to the penalty that has to be paid for an intentional act of noncompliance with the rules or rites of Islam. For instance, it has to be paid when someone deliberately misses or breaks their fast, or breaches one of the rules of being in the state of ihram for pilgrimage.


Fitra, or zakat ul-Fitr, is an amount that is paid by every adult self-supporting Muslim on behalf of the self and dependents. The fitra is due before the Eid prayers, and is fixed at the modern equivalent of 2.5kg of wheat (one sa’a of grain in the Prophet’s time), or its monetary value.


Qurbanī (قربانى‎) or uḍḥiyyah (أضحية) is the sacrifice of a livestock animal (a domesticated goat, sheep, cow or camel) during the feast of Eid al-Adha. The sacrifice of an animal is to be done from the morning of the 10th until the sunset of the 13th of the month of Dhu’l-Hijjah, the 12th lunar month of the Islamic calendar. The sacrifice and slaughter of the animal is strictly for the pleasure of Allah, and symbolises the Prophet Ibrahim’s obedience to Allah in his willingness to sacrifice his son.


It is narrated in the hadith of al-Bukhari (no. 6) that Allah’s Messenger was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak of generosity in the month of Ramadan. According to the hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim, Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: “The Messenger of Allah was the most generous of the men; and he was the most generous during the month of Ramadan when Jibril visited him every night and recited the Qur’an to him.” The reason is that during Ramadan the virtues and rewards of giving alms are far more rewarding than in the other months.


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