Of all the components of the Islamic system of wealth distribution, zakat is the most well-known among the masses. And while zakat’s role in narrowing the gap between different social classes cannot be denied, other components of this system must be talked about as well. One important concept in the Islamic financial model is that of sadaqah. This is a type of charity that is given with the sole purpose of seeking Allah SWT’s mercy and beneficence. This is a simple definition, there are many types of sadaqah that need to be talked about in detail. In today’s discussion, we are going to talk about one such type of sadaqah i.e. sadaqah wajibah.
What is sadaqah wajibah?
Sadaqah wajibah is a type of charity that is binding in nature. A common example of sadaqah wajibah that some of you might already have paid in your life but are not aware of it, is fitrana. However, there are a few more categories of sadaqah wajibah other than sadaqah e fitr as well. We will talk about these in the upcoming sections of this discussion. A question that must have arisen in some of the inquisitive minds must be: is sadaqah wajibah the same thing as zakat? While there does exist a similarity between these two forms of Islamic charity with regards to the eligibility criterion, there is a big difference as well. Zakat can be paid to be Muslims only while sadaqah wajibah can be paid to non-Muslims as well.
Types of sadaqah wajibah
Now that we are well aware of the basic concept of sadaqah wajibah, let us talk about the different sub categories of sadaqah wajibah. There are five different types of sadaqah wajibah, we explain these briefly in the following sections.
1- Sadaqah Fitr
The purpose of sadaqah fitr is to make sure that all sections of the society have the means to enjoy the festivities of Eid ul fitr. It is a charity that must be paid before the Eid prayer, but ideally, it should be given a few days before Eid, so that everyone has enough time to celebrate Eid properly. It must be noted here that sadaqah fitr can be paid by the head of the family on the behalf of the entire family, everyone does not need to give this charity individually. However, the total amount calculated should be per head, regarding Nisab for sadaqah fitr. We are talking about an amount here that is equivalent to at least 1.6 KG of wheat or 3.2 KG of barley. Of course, one can give more than that, considering the needs of the recipient person/family.
Imagine you take an oath that if you get a job, you will donate a substantial amount of money to charity. That is what Nadhr is, a conditional charity that one imposes on oneself. Remember that once the oath is taken, it must be honoured. Not upholding what one swore is a sin, and there is another form of sadaqah that must be paid to make up for that. We will talk about that in a minute as well. Muslims all around the world donate a decent sum of money or food in the name of Nadhr to seek Allah SWT’s beneficence so that their worldly affairs are in order.
Suppose that you cannot pray or fast because of an illness like diabetes. Or, you are someone who went on the pilgrimage of hajj but made a minor mistake. How do you make up for these missed opportunities? By paying Fidyah, a type of sadaqah wajibah that must be paid to make up for the minor errors or missed opportunities. The amount that must be paid as a Fidyah for the aforementioned offenses and mistakes must be equivalent to at least 1.6 KG of wheat.
This is a type of charity that must be paid if a Muslim is to embark on the road to redemption. There are more than one reasons which can necessitate a Kaffarah payment. Someone who breaks a fast on purpose must pay Kaffarah for this reprehensible act. The same follows for someone who breaks an oath or commits a murder. However, for the sake of keeping things simple so that there are no ambiguities, Kaffarah is divided into two categories. These are greater Kaffarah and lesser Kaffarah. The former scenario is applicable for those who break a fast intentionally, are directly responsible for someone’s death, or break zihar. The latter category, on the other hand, applies to smaller offenses like breaking an oath. Greater Kaffarah can be freeing a slave while the lesser Kaffarah can amount to feeding poor people. The exactness of this type of sadaqah wajibah varies with the situation.
The sacrificial charity. Every Muslim who has the means, must purchase a goat/cow/sheep/camel and sacrifice the animal in the name of Allah SWT on the day of Eid-ul-Azha. This is the biggest festival in the Islamic calendar, one that goes on for three days. While it is permissible to feed oneself and family with sacrificial meat, one must distribute meat among those who cannot afford to celebrate this sacrificial ritual on their own. Proper allocations must be made, meat must be divided into three portions, one of which at least, must be reserved for the underprivileged members of the society.
We have reached the concluding section of this article, but we are sure that by this point, you have learned a lot about sadaqah wajibah that you did not know at the starting point. There is a need for more discussions like these. While zakat does promise to alleviate the sufferings of most, it is a ritual that has become associated with the holy month of Ramadan only. Even though it can be paid at any point during the Islamic calendar! So, the need for sadaqah is greater than ever, our world needs all the help it can get post-pandemic. And remember, amounts don’t matter, intentions do!