What are the types of charity and sadaka?
a. The Definition of Sadaqa
The lexical meaning of sadaqa is to confirm, speak honestly, to spend something in the lawful way. In Islamic legal terminology, it means to help the needy and the poor only for the sake of Allah. Sadaqa is a broad term that encompasses zakat and other types of charity.
We can see the broadness of the concept of sadaqa in the following hadith: “Sadaqa is due on every joint of a person, every day the sun rises. Administering of justice between two men is also a Sadaqa. And assisting a man to ride upon his beast, or helping him load his luggage upon it, is a Sadaqa; and a good word is a Sadaqa; and every step that you take towards prayer is a Sadaqa, and removing of harmful things from the pathway is a Sadaqa.”
The reason behind charity is also to have the person’s wealth blessed. Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) said, “Charity does not reduce the wealth.”
Women have also been encouraged to spend for those in need. One day while addressing women, Our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that: “O women, even if it is from your adornments, give sadaqa.”
b. The Types of Sadaqa
There are two types of charity, obligatory and supererogatory:
- Obligatory Charity (Sadaqa): This is zakat al-mal (zakat of wealth) and zakat al-fitr (zakat paid in Ramadan). Both of them are separate acts of worship that have rules particular related to them.
- Supererogatory Charity (Sadaqa): These are charities given other than zakat al-mal and zakat al-fitr.
Sadaqa jariyah, which means continuous charity, is the best example of the nafilah sadaqa. This pleasant deed can be carried out by financially aiding places like places of worship, educational establishments, construction of roads, water pipes and fountains, and bridges; or financially aiding charitable organizations for the sake of Allah.
 Al-Bukhari, Sulh, 11; Jihad, 72,128; Muslim, Zakat, 56
 Sahih al-Muslim, Kitab al-Birr wa al-Sila, 19.