Could you please clarify for me, what the different categories for alms-giving are? Apart from the obligatory zakah, what other forms are there – like sadqa, khairaat, et cetera? Kindly define the various kinds, because I would like to be sure of my niyyah while giving. Many Thanks.
Basically there are two kinds of Sadaqat i.e. Zaka’h which is obligatory in nature and that of supererogatory (naf’l) sadaqat. Sadaqah and Khairat are generally used as synonymous, whereas in our society these two terms are used in different perspectives. According to the prevalent concept of the two terms, people give sadaqah for saving their skin from misfortunes and mishaps etc. whereas khairat is given for the reward in the hereafter.
As for as the basic sources of Deen are concerned such categorization of sadaqat does not exit. All optional alms given in the name of God are termed as sadaqat, however, the importance and sawab of sadaqat vary from individual to individual and with reference to different situations and circumstances. A sadaqah given in the time when the person himself was in dire need of money would be held higher in the eyes of God than that given in normal circumstances. Similarly the sadaqah, which is given specifically for the cause of God, like building a mosque or in any other way contributing to the propagation and stability of Islam, would be treated as loan with God, which is undoubtedly a great reward for a person. Similarly relatives deserve more than other people.
In principle, while giving alms the situations should be taken into consideration, along with the sincerity of Niyyah (intention), which is a prerequisite for all our deeds. The Niyyah must be to seek the pleasure of God. Whenever, you give alms just make a Niyyah of sadqah, the situational factor would automatically determine its status in the eyes of God.