The Art of Giving: Zakat, Sadaqah and Muwasaat

Ramadan is almost here, at our doorstep. Our hearts are full as we eagerly await this month full of barakah. While we prepare to gather and increase the number of our deeds, this is the month we also maximize our efforts in helping our underprivileged brothers and sisters.

How can we help ourselves and others, especially during this month?

When we share and give to others, we show our gratitude to Allah for blessing us. 

Zakat is the third pillar of Islam and is obligatory annually; specifically during the month of Ramadan. However, there are two other non-obligatory ways you can share your wealth and blessings all around the year too through sadaqah and muwasaat.

The Art of Giving

1. Zakat


Paying zakat is obligatory for a Muslim. Zakat Al-Mal and Zakat ul Fitr are the two kinds of zakat payable by Muslims. Zakat mostly deals in material wealth. The minimum amount of zakat you must give is 2.5% but there is no upper limit. For those who knowingly deny zakat, Allah says,

وَلَا يَحْسَبَنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَبْخَلُونَ بِمَآ ءَاتَىٰهُمُ ٱللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِۦ هُوَ خَيْرًا لَّهُم ۖ بَلْ هُوَ شَرٌّ لَّهُمْ ۖ سَيُطَوَّقُونَ مَا بَخِلُوا۟ بِهِۦ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ ۗ وَلِلَّهِ مِيرَٰثُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ

 And let not those who [greedily] withhold what Allah has given them of His bounty ever think that it is better for them. Rather, it is worse for them. Their necks will be encircled by what they withheld on the Day of Resurrection. And to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth. And Allah, of what you do, is [fully] Aware.

 [Surah -Ali ‘Imran, 3:180]

According to Muslim jurists, zakat cannot be given to the rich, those capable but unwilling to work, non-Muslims who fight against Islam, one’s own family (wife, children, descendants, ancestors), and the family of the Prophet ﷺ. 

However, the Quran mentions who may receive zakat, 

۞ إِنَّمَا ٱلصَّدَقَـٰتُ لِلْفُقَرَآءِ وَٱلْمَسَـٰكِينِ وَٱلْعَـٰمِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَٱلْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِى ٱلرِّقَابِ وَٱلْغَـٰرِمِينَ وَفِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ وَٱبْنِ ٱلسَّبِيلِ ۖ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

Zakāh expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it1 and for bringing hearts together [for Islām] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.

[Surah At-Tawbah, 9:60]

Four types of people are exempted from paying zakat: the poor, the indigent, the debt-ridden, and slaves.

2. Sadaqah


Sadaqah is a voluntary act of giving unlike zakat. There is no limit to when and how much sadaqah one can give. Sadaqah or charity is not restricted only to wealth. There are different types of sadaqah as mentioned by the Prophet ﷺ, 

حَدَّثَنَا عَبَّاسُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الْعَظِيمِ الْعَنْبَرِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا النَّضْرُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ الْجُرَشِيُّ الْيَمَامِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا عِكْرِمَةُ بْنُ عَمَّارٍ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو زُمَيْلٍ، عَنْ مَالِكِ بْنِ مَرْثَدٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ تَبَسُّمُكَ فِي وَجْهِ أَخِيكَ لَكَ صَدَقَةٌ وَأَمْرُكَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَنَهْيُكَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ صَدَقَةٌ وَإِرْشَادُكَ الرَّجُلَ فِي أَرْضِ الضَّلاَلِ لَكَ صَدَقَةٌ وَبَصَرُكَ لِلرَّجُلِ الرَّدِيءِ الْبَصَرِ لَكَ صَدَقَةٌ وَإِمَاطَتُكَ الْحَجَرَ وَالشَّوْكَةَ وَالْعَظْمَ عَنِ الطَّرِيقِ لَكَ صَدَقَةٌ وَإِفْرَاغُكَ مِنْ دَلْوِكَ فِي دَلْوِ أَخِيكَ لَكَ صَدَقَةٌ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ وَفِي الْبَابِ عَنِ ابْنِ مَسْعُودٍ وَجَابِرٍ وَحُذَيْفَةَ وَعَائِشَةَ وَأَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ ‏.‏ وَأَبُو زُمَيْلٍ اسْمُهُ سِمَاكُ بْنُ الْوَلِيدِ الْحَنَفِيُّ ‏.‏

Abu Dharr narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:

“Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity, commanding good and forbidding evil is charity, your giving directions to a man lost in the land is charity for you. Your seeing for a man with bad sight is a charity for you, your removal of a rock, a thorn or a bone from the road is charity for you. Your pouring what remains from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity for you.”

[Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1956]

The benefits of sadaqah are plenty, as Rasulullah ﷺ also says, 

وَعَنْ عَلِيٍّ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «بَادِرُوا بِالصَّدَقَةِ فَإِنَّ الْبَلَاءَ لَا يَتَخَطَّاهَا» . رَوَاهُ رَزِينٌ

Ali reported God’s messenger as saying,

“Give the sadaqah without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.*”

*The idea is that it acts as a barrier beyond which calamity cannot pass>>

Razln transmitted it.

[Mishkat al-Masabih 1887]

3. Muwasaat

muwasaat, sharing,

Muwasaat means cooperating. Helping a fellow Muslim or Muslimah in need and extending material support to them. It has great importance, as it plates a vital role in the betterment of our community. Though non-obligatory, it is an essential virtue for Muslims to cultivate.

It is a concept that deals with giving without expectations. It is not zakat as it is not money, and it is not sadaqah as well. The Prophet ﷺ says, 

وَعَنْ أَنَسٍ قَالَ: لَمَّا قَدِمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْمَدِينَةَ أَتَاهُ الْمُهَاجِرُونَ فَقَالُوا: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَا رَأَيْنَا قَوْمًا أَبْذَلَ مِنْ كَثِيرٍ وَلَا أَحْسَنَ مُوَاسَاةً مِنْ قَلِيلٍ مِنْ قَوْمٍ نَزَلْنَا بَيْنَ أَظْهُرِهِمْ: لَقَدْ كَفَوْنَا المؤونة وَأَشْرَكُونَا فِي الْمَهْنَأِ حَتَّى لَقَدْ خِفْنَا أَنْ يَذْهَبُوا بِالْأَجْرِ كُلِّهِ فَقَالَ: «لَا مَا دَعَوْتُمُ اللَّهَ لَهُمْ وَأَثْنَيْتُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ» . رَوَاهُ التِّرْمِذِيُّ وَصَحَّحَهُ

Anas said that when God’s Messenger came to Medina the Emigrants came to him and said, “Messenger of God, we have never seen people more liberal out of abundance or better in giving help when they have little than a people among whom we have settled. They have removed our trouble and shared with us their pleasant things so that we are afraid they will get the whole reward.” He replied, ‘No, as long as you make supplication to God for them and express commendation of them*.”

* They have no reason to fear that the Ansar will get all the reward from God so long as due expression of thanks is made.

Tirmidhi transmitted it saying that it is sahih.

[Mishkat al-Masabih 3026]

Muwasaat is only for fellow Muslims, to share what you have, unlike Zakat and sadaqah where you give away from the excess you have.

The Purpose of Giving

حَدَّثَنَا خَلاَّدُ بْنُ يَحْيَى، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، عَنْ أَبِي بُرْدَةَ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ أَبِي بُرْدَةَ، عَنْ جَدِّهِ، عَنْ أَبِي مُوسَى، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ كَالْبُنْيَانِ، يَشُدُّ بَعْضُهُ بَعْضًا ‏”‏‏.‏ وَشَبَّكَ أَصَابِعَهُ‏.‏

Narrated Abu Musa:

The Prophet ﷺ said, “A faithful believer to a faithful believer is like the bricks of a wall, enforcing each other.” While (saying that) the Prophet ﷺ clasped his hands, by interlacing his fingers.

[Sahih al-Bukhari 481]

Islam encourages us to realize the values of togetherness within society at large. So why not think of our brothers and sisters and benefit them as much as we can? If you cannot give anything material, volunteer and give your heart and time to welfare communities. Strive to have a heart that shares, no matter your circumstance. Remember, no matter how small your deed, Allah is All-knowing.

Written by: Farida Haji