The differences between zakat, sadaqah and lillah

Charity given for the sake of Allah is a pillar of Islam. Around our parts, when collecting for charity, we often see three buckets or categories. They are labelled zakat, sadaqah and lillah. The question many ask, ‘What is the difference between them?’

The answer differs depending on what one intends to do with the definition.

Lillahi literally means ‘for the sake of Allah’ while sadaqah is charity given for the sake of Allah.1 So, technically in the matter of giving property in charity lillah and sadaqah are synonymous. On the other hand, zakat is a type of sadaqah. Zakat is to give ownership of a specific portion of a specific property to specific individuals for the sake of Allah Almighty2. Hence, zakat is specific while lillah and sadaqah are general. The same is the case for zakat al-fitr (sadaqat al-fitr).

So the question arises why have different pots for lillah and sadaqah if they are technically the same?

Around our parts, the differentiation is made for administrative purposes to ensure eligible people receive restricted funds.

Sadaqah is a broad term and is applicable to many types of charity. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has called the removal of harmful items sadaqah3 and more so every good deed as sadaqah4. In terms of financial charity, sadaqah may be nafl, wajib or fard. Nafl sadaqah may be gifts or voluntary grant for the sake of Allah. Wajib sadaqah may be kaffarah, fidya or other mandatory grants besides zakat given to cleanse one’s wealth or expiate for actions. Fard sadaqah may be charity such as zakat.

Accordingly, there may be restrictions to those who may receive sadaqah depending on status. Fard sadaqah such as zakat may only be given to a very particular group which is stated in the Quran such as a presently poor Muslim. Wajib sadaqah such as removing dubious earnings which according to some may be given to causes which are for the common good of the people but not for building places of worship. Nafl sadaqah has no restriction5 unless it contravenes the Shariah or is against the sensibilities of Islam.

While acknowledging the classical meaning but in consideration of points above, some separate charity in three categories; lillah,  sadaqah and zakat. The first for voluntary charity, the second compulsory charity which is not zakat and the third zakat.

Note! Some consider the recipients for sadaqah which is wajib to be same as zakat. This is the more cautious view. Hence, according to them, there will be no need for three groupings.

However, in order to avoid confusion among the laity, the distinction is kept. This is so that they do not accidentally place sadaqah wajibah in the lillah pot due to them considering it non-zakat. This is despite the fact that it is better placed in the zakat pot as it recipients universally may receive any charity funds

In summary, classically lillah and sadaqah are synonymous whilst zakat is one of its types. Around our parts, lillah is deemed as unrestricted funds, sadaqah as partially restricted funds which can be used for public works (رفاه عام) according to some while zakat is fully restricted funds which must be only given to specified categories. Some do not make any distinction between sadaqah wajibah and zakat in terms of recipients. Allah knows best.


Muhammad Saifur Rahman
30 June 2017
Newham, London


1. قال الجرجانيّ: هي العطيّة يبتغى بها المثوبة من الله
2. See al-Lubab. For more detail read, ‘The book of Zakat’. Available online at
3. إماطة الأذي عن الطريق صدقة رواه البخاري
4. كلّ معروف صدقة رواه مسلم و أبو داود
5. Unless the restriction is placed by the giver.

Further reading

Nawhami, Muhammad Saifur Rahman. (2012). The economic classes in IslamIslamic Studies Bulletin (DIBAJ), Issue 1. Available at

Nawhami, Muhammad Saifur Rahman. (2015). The Book of ZakatIslamic Studies Bulletin (DIBAJ), Issue 104. Available at


Citekey: 170630501

The price of wheat in Newham, London – Ramadan, 1438 AH (2017 CE)

This report outlines the price of wheat in Newham (London) during Ramadan, 1438 (July, 2017) and the subsequent recommendation for the rate of sadaqat al-fitr and fidya.

The recommended price for sadaqat al-fitr and fidya in Newham is £2.90. It should not be lower than £2.25. This is based on the retail price for 2.32 kilogams of wheat.

This price is specific to Newham. The price is low due to a few big warehouses. The normal price for 2kg starts around £3.00 which is common around London – other localities in London have reported around £3.50. Localities may differ and so one should consult the local ulama in their area. Wifaqul Ulama has set the benchmark price nationally in the UK at £2.00 based on 1.667kg as the standard.

One may give sadaqat al-fitr anytime during Ramadan and if eligible must pay before Eid Salah. The ruling and recommendation are in accordance to the Hanafi fiqh. People following other approaches should consult their respective scholars.


The ahnaf allow for the payment of sadaqat al-fitr in cash.1 This value must be calculated from the retail price of wheat, barley, dates or raisins available in the giver’s locality without incurring added cost. Hence, bulk or stock market pricing will not suffice unless its value is higher than the local price.

In England, wheat is used as the chosen measure as it is often the cheapest. The ahnaf state that half a sa’ be given for wheat or its value in price.  In principle, the pricing may be done using the derivative of wheat such as flour or cereal so long as it is not cheaper than raw wheat. For a detail discussion, read ‘The standard for pricing sadaqat al-fitr‘ by the erudite shaykh, Mufti Umar Faruq Lawharwi (may Allah Almighty protect him and raise his rank).

Research by notable muftiyan have suggested differing weights which form the volume of half a sa’; 1.575, 1.590, 1.636, 1.64 and 2.32 kilograms. The majority of scholars opt between 1.5 and 1.7 kg. This is a barley based measure. Accordingly,  half a sa’ is a volume which can be filled with 1.7 kg of husked barley. Some, citing caution, have chosen 2.32 kg of wheat based on the finding of the Late Mufti A’zam Rashid Ahmad Ludhyanwi (may Allah have mercy upon him). Mufti Umar Faruq Lawharwi recommends 1.75 kilograms of wheat for sadaqat al-fitr . There is ofcourse no restriction to giving more.

Based on the current research, 1.75 kg is a reasonable and objective recommendation which is also relatively cautious.

The reason for opting to choose the higher than 1.6 kg is because barley is denser than wheat. In recent tests, we found the difference to be around 30 to 35 percent. For instance, a container which can hold 1.6kg of husk barley should be able to hold up to 2.1kg of wheat. Mufti Rashid Ahmad Ludhyanwi put the factor closer to 20 percent which is in keeping with Mufti Umar Faruq ‘s suggestion. Hence, when measuring wheat it may be better to use the weight given by Mufti Rashid Ahmad Ludhyanwi which is 2.32 kg. This is the reasonably cautious and in the matter of charity, the Shariah gives that which benefits the poor preference. However, if one chooses to pay with the lower measure it will be permissible.

Currently, the price of wheat flour cannot be used as a measure as it is significantly cheaper than whole wheat in London. One can purchase 1.5kg of wheat flour from Tesco for 55p compared to whole wheat, the retail price of which is stated in the table below.

At present, the price of bulgar wheat can be used as it is generally more expensive than whole wheat. The average price for 1kg is £2.45 compared to £1.58 for whole wheat. The big retailers such as Sainsbury, Tesco, and Morrisons sell 1kg bulgar wheat for £2.30. However, I found one shop, Cost Saver in East Ham, which sells which sells 1kg Bulgar wheat for £1.43, hence, this price will not be allowed.

It is not necessary for the poor to actually buy the wheat but it should be possible for them to buy the wheat if they so chose.

Retail price

I visited most of the groceries in Romford Road, Barking Road, High Street North, High Street South, Plashet Grove, Plashet Road, Katherine Road, Green Street, Upton Lane,  and Woodgrange Road. These major roads intersect the electoral wards in Newham which have a significant Muslim population.

ShopPriceQuantity£ per KG
Mina Store£2.252000g£1.13
Swathi Cash & Carry£1.691500g£1.13
Ali Cash and Carry£1.751500g£1.17
Sakthi Cash & Carry£1.791500g£1.19
Seelans Superstores£1.991500g£1.33
Himalaya Food Store£2.291500g£1.53
Mina Store£0.65500g£1.30
T S B Cash & Carry£0.69500g£1.38
Kapadokya Food Centre£1.391000g£1.39
Roman Express£1.391000g£1.39
Sakthi Cash & Carry£0.79500g£1.58
Madina Store£0.79500g£1.58
Madina Store£2.491500g£1.66
Seelan Superstore£0.99500g£1.98
Swathi Cash & carry£0.99500g£1.98
B B Fatima£0.99500g£1.98
Toor Store£2.291500g£1.99
Holland & Barretts£1.49500g£2.98

I have not found any place in the borough where they sell wheat loosely. Rather they are sold in packages of 500g, 900g, 1000g, 1500g and 2000g.

So irrespective if one chose the measure 1.575, 1.590, 1.636, 1.64 or 1.75 kg, to actually enable purchase, one will have to give either 1.5kg or 2kg as the exact amount is not available locally. In consideration of the poor, I chose to round upwards.

The cheapest I was actually able to purchase 2kg was £2.25.

The cheapest I was actually able to purchase 2.5kg was £2.90

Mina Store sells 2kg for £2.25 and 500g for £0.65.2 This is the cheapest I found. The stores in High Street North and Romford Road (Manor Park) have the best prices.

As a way of comparison. The average price for whole wheat is £1.58

Many choose to extrapolate the price based on the cheapest price of 1 kilogram. Mina store sells 500g for £0.65 so 1 kilogram will be £1.30 which is the cheapest one can actually buy. Then multiply it with 1.75 or 2.32, the cost of 1.75kg of wheat will be £2.28 and the cost of 2.32kg will be £3.02. This is problematic as we have seen that one can purchase 2.5kg for £2.90. To alleviate this problem, it is may be more prudent to extrapolate only when needed as is shown next.

Alternatively, one can take the price of 2kg of wheat which is available for £2.25 and extrapolate the remainder using a 500g bag. To reach 2.32 kilograms we are 320g short which in turn is 64% of a 500g bag. Consequently, 320g of wheat will be £0.42. So the sadaqat al-fitr for 2.32kg with this method will be £2.67.4 Similarly, to calculate using 1.75kg of wheat, one may multiply a 500g bag by 3.5 which is £2.28 as before.

It may be prudent to reconsider as to whether the price should be extrapolated as it is not practical to actually buy it for that price. Allah knows best.

Bulk and market price

The bulk or stock market price will not be used for calculating the price of sadaqat al-fitr or any other financial obligations required as an ibadat. However, for the sake of completeness, I will mention it here.

In the European stock markets, the price of wheat is stated per tonne (1000 kg).

The price for July (2017) is £142.95 per tonne. So, the price for wheat is assumed to be £0.15 per kilogram.

In the United States, the price is given per bushel. A bushel of wheat is 60 pounds (27.2155 kg). A bushel of wheat is expected to yield 42 pounds (19.0509 kg) of flour.5

In terms of buying in bulk, I could not find big bags of wheat in the locality. BuyWholeFoodsOnline Ltd sells a 25kg bag for £28.55 plus £4.99 for postage. Based on this, 1kg will be £0.88. So if one were to extrapolate  1.75 kg or 2.32 kg, it will be £1.53 and £2.03 respectively. When one add the postage it will be £6.52 and £7.02. However, this is a nonsensical calculation as in reality it not possible to get that price unless the poor is given more than £30.


Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
26 Ramadan 1438
21 June 2017



1. This may not be allowed in the other schools of fiqh. Please seek advice from the qualified scholars respectively if you don’t adhere to the Hanafi school.

2. I recently visited Mina Store and they had a discount on whole wheat. They were selling 2kg whole wheat for £1.65. Hence, added with 500g for £0.65, one can purchase 2.5kg for £2.20. If one paid that amount, sadaqat al-fitr or fidya will suffice. It may be wise to check that the discount is continuing before one adopts this price.


4 Calculated 65*0.64

5. An acre, optimally on average, can yield around 60 bushels (3600 pounds or 1632.933kg).  In the middle ages, an acre was the size of land which one man can plough with an ox in a day. In metric units, it is 4046.86 square meters. In layman’s term, it is 60% the size of a football pitch, 16 tennis courts or a car park with a capacity for 150 cars.


Further Reading

Lawharwi, Mft. Umar Faruq. (2015). The standard for pricing sadaqat al-fitr. (Nawhami, Muhammad Saifur Rahman, Trans.). Islamic Studies Bulletin (DIBAJ), Issue 4. Available at

Shabbir, Mufti Yusuf. (May, 2017). Sadaqah al-Fitr Calculation for Blackburn. Nawadir. Accessed (21 June 2017)

Nawhami, Muhammad Saifur Rahman. (2012). The economic classes in Islam. Islamic Studies Bulletin (DIBAJ), Issue 1. Available at


Cite: 170621501

Transliterating Arabic

There at times comes a need to convert Arabic scripts to English (Latin) script or vice versa. Depending on the objective, the approach differs and as such there are many standards. Although computer conversion is an important consideration, we more often need the transliteration to be easily readable and convertible to Arabic with the human eye.  Hence, rather than transliteration, we opt for transcription. ISO 233-2 and ALA-LC standards best meet these needs.

Transliteration table

The transliteration table maps the conversion between Arabic and English. Read the ISO 233-2 and ALA-LC for direction on how to apply the transliteration.

Arabic ISO 233 Unicode Capital Unicode ALA-LC
أ a, ā 0101 Ā 0100
ب b b
ت t t
ث 1E6F 1E63 th
ج ǧ 01E7 Ǧ 01E6 j
ح 1E25 1E24
خ 1E2B 1E2A kh
د d d
ذ 1E0F 1E0E dh
ر r r
ز z z
س s s
ش š 0161 Š 0160 sh
ص 1E63 1E62
ض 1E0D 1E0C
ط 1E6D 1E6C
ظ 1E93 1E93
ع ʿ 02BF ʿ
غ ġ 0121 Ġ 0120 gh
ف f f
ق q q
ك k k
ل l l
م m m
ن n n
ه h h
و w, ū 016B Ū 016A w
ي y, ī 012B Ī 012A y
ء ʾ 02BE
ى ā 0101 Ā 0100 á (00E1)
Á (00C1)
ــَـ a a
ــِـ i i
ــُـ u u
ـَـيْـ ai ay
ـَـوْ au aw
ـِـيّـ  iy ī
ـُـوّ ūw  016B Ū 016A ū
ة a, ah, āh, at, āt 0101 Ā 0100

Instruction: To type a letter with a diactric, simply type the unicode in a wordprocessor and then press ALT+X

Choosing a standard: ALA-LC vs ISO 233

ISO 233-2 is used in the French-speaking countries which include the North African territories.  ISSN recommend it when cataloguing serials.

ALA-LC is used in the English-speaking countries. The Library of Congress and British Library use it to catalogue content.

ALA-LC naturally has fewer diacritics as English lacks the symbols as opposed to French which ISO 233-2 follows. So, ALA-LC is easier to write, read and convert for a person without the aid of additional tools while ISO 233-2 is more accurate and easier to process for conversion with a computer.

Hence, one may argue that ALA-LC is better for transliteration in books and reading texts while ISO 233-2 is better for cataloguing and databases.

In books and articles that are printed, most professional publishers use ALA-LC standard in English work. But its usage on the web is less consistent. The use of diacritics when searching is cumbersome. Hence, for example, many choose to write u rather than ū so that their content are easier to find albeit now technology exists to address this issue. Even further, especially when readers are unfamiliar with the standards, some choose a phonetic system such as ACA. For example, writing ‘oo’ instead of ū as it is more intuitive and ensures more can find the content.

Nevertheless, it is good practice to use a formal system such as ALA-LC when writing on the web as most modern web automatically remove the diacritics. Hence the result for searching Būkharī and Bukhari will give the same result. So, your writing will show with better quality results rather than informal writing.

Searching the web: ACA

Arabic Chat Alphabet (ACA)  or Arabish as it is also known is the most common transliteration method used on the web although rarely used in an informal setting. Due to its prevalence, most online providers support this standard including Google and Microsoft.  Use the following tips to get more accurate results.

Tip 1: Rather than typing the whole word, try only inputting the consonants such as ‘A L R H M N’ ‘الرحمن’

Tip 2: To type (ء) use 2; (ع) use 3; (غ) use 3’; (ط) use 6; (ظ) use 6’; (ح) use 7; (خ) use 7’; (ق) use 8; (ص) use 9; (ض) use 9’.

Tip 3: To type the vowels type capital A or aa for (ا); w or oo for (و); y or ee for (ي).


I will be remiss If I did not highlight a particular point concerning transliteration. Note that the Quran is not just the meaning (tafsir), sound (qira’at) but also the form (rasm al-khat). All of it is revealed and preserved. One is not allowed to produce the Quran entirely with only the translation and leave out the Arabic. Similarly, it is not allowed to produce the Quran with only the transliteration without the Arabic. The Arabic text form of the Quran is intrinsically part of the Quran and non-replaceable. While there may be technical restrictions in some cases to write an ayat or two within English texts but one should still strive to include the Arabic to the best of their ability in some way.


There is no right or wrong method for transliteration rather only the most efficient. The ALA-LC is best suited for human reading and ISO 233 is suited for machine reading. The optimal criteria is that which is easily convertible to the Arabic script and fast to read accurately. If reading is more important than conversion, a phonetic system may be more suitable such as ACA. This is also more suitable for web search, especially when browsing informal writing.



Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
2 Ramadhan 1438
28 May 2017

Citekey: 170528001

How to prepare for a lesson (Mutala)

If you want to understand a subject well and gain depth, you must prepare before going to lesson – this is called mutala. The following is a suggested approach to preparing for a text covered in a lesson.

Firstly, determine the literal meaning (lughat) and form (sayghah) of the words. You may enquire, is the word an ismfi’l or harf? If the word is an ism, what is the gender (muzakkar or mu’annath), number (wahidtathniya or jama’) and type (ma’rifah or nakirah)?  If it is a fi’l, what is the sayghah as per the rules of sarf and perhaps even ascertain what is its masdarIf it is a harf, which group of harf does it belong. Ultimately, you would determine, what does this word literally mean and perhaps it has more than one literal meaning? The primary skill in this step is sarf and vocabulary (esp. masadir).

Secondly, determine the structure (tarkib) of the sentence and the relationship between the words vis status (marfu’mansub and majrur). You may need to identify if the word is mu’rab, mabni (ghayr mutamakkin) (mabni), ghayr munsarif or munsarif to glean how the word will react to a stimuli (‘amil). Ultimately, you should try to read the text and identify its function through the irab. The primary skill in this step is nahw.

Thirdly, translate the text in a meaningful way. You may ask what did the author intend here? If there are different possible meanings, what is the likely meaning here. To this end, you will need to look at the context of the sentence by checking what came prior to and after it as well as read further around the topic.

The objective is not to understand everything rather identify areas where you may need help. The part which you do not understand, mark it and when in class ask the teacher to clarify.

This is a tried and tested method. At first it may seem tedious and time consuming. In fact at first a few lines may take your entire time. But rest assured, it gets easier – after awhile you will get sharper and faster. Then reading will become a joy and you would advance at an accelerated pace so long as you are consistent in mutala daily even if the quantity is little.

If you were to read the dars nizami entirely in this manner, you would have built within yourself a capacity to de-construct any subject in the field.

Extended reading, beyond the dars nizami, is the subject of another note. Suffice it to say, you should read selectively and consult a pious expert alim regarding a book rather than reading any and every book that crosses your path – do not squander your time or cloud your judgement.


Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
1 Rabi II 1437 AH
11 January 2016 CE

Citekey: 160111501

Fieldnote on “Riding the wave (Note #85)”

“Riding the wave after Ramadan” was first published in It was taken from a speech delivered by Shaykh al-Hadith Mufti Umar Faruq Lawharwi (May Allah almighty raise him in ranks) on the 24 Ramadan 1434 in Madina Masjid (Clapton, London) after Asr (7:35 pm).1

His speaking style is different from the usual orators; his is multi-layered and interconnected. As such concentration is required to find the different messages and remember where one point connects directly with another. Hence, I thought that it may be more appropriate to clip the audio in relevant sections and combine without distortion so that it may be more accessible to the public.

The increase and decrease of Iman

If one ponders, there is another message (among others), one which is relevant to the Alim and the student of Din especially those in the final years studying Bukhari, Muslim and the like. There, an issue is discussed in Kitab al-Iman which queries that, “Does Iman itself increase or decrease?” (هل الإيمان يزيد و ينقص) The ulama are differed on this and many hours are spent trying to resolve it. Hadrat Shaykh Mufti Umar Faruq Sahib (مد فيوضهم) in a span of two minutes quaintly presents an explanation which calms the heart of a novice such as myself.

He explains the nature of the ocean; when there are waves it seems that there is more water but the quantity is actually the same. This is the same with Iman; the actual essence remains the same even though it seems to have increased. Iman increases like the increase of water in waves but the essence is unchanged. Hence, his description account for many of the questions that arise from the relevant Ahadith without arousing controversy or delving into the minutiae in the public sphere. (cf. Fath al-Mulhim as well as the topic relating to Iman Mu’li wa Munji for details).

Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
London England
29 Ramadan 1434
Wednesday, 7 August 2013

1. Unfortunately, I was not present at the majlis but managed to listen to it as it was broadcast online. Thereafter, Ml. Muzammil Kara kindly forwarded his recording from which I transcribed the relevant section.

Citekey: 130807501

Comparing to the bride and groom

Here I shall share some of my notes comparing the difference between the articles ‘To the groom’ and ‘To the bride’.

I wrote the article ‘To the groom’ first. Some female students requested the article so I thought it fair that in the interest of balance I should write one ‘To the bride’. To write the latter, I used the first as a template and changed parts that which I deemed necessary.

Both articles have seven parts. It starts with (1) an introduction in the form of a khutbah. It is followed by three scenarios; (2) there will be disputes amongst you so use shariah to resolve it, (3) there will be dispute amongst you which may seem irresolvable, and (4) there will be dispute amongst you which may persist. It finishes with the (5) highlights of their respective rights, (7) their duty to the new extended families and a (6) conclusion.

The khutbah has the same format but different qualities are emphasised. The husbands are reminded that Allah almighty is merciful and kind, the prophet is a mercy and kind, and the sahabah were devoted. The wives are reminded that Allah almighty is compassionate and appreciative, the prophet is a favour, and the sahabah were content. Men and women have different psyche and as such are reminded of the respective relevant qualities. The basic message to the husband is don’t be mean and the message to the wife is don’t be unthankful.

In the issue of resolving their dispute with the shariah as judge, they are reminded that the objective is to help each other but the man is warned against quenching his anger and the woman against quenching her annoyance. This is accompanied with an address to reducing the challenges arising from their respective roles. In terms of disputes which seem irresolvable, the husband is advised to share and talk to the wife and not shut her out whilst the wife is advised to be patient and not be incessant. The advice for the third scenario where they are faced with the irresolvable difference is the same for the husband and wife.

Naturally the part relating to the rights of the husband and wife is somewhat different but the inspiration is largely from one source – the final sermon of the prophet of Allah (صلي الله عليه و سلم) during the farewell pilgrimage. The message relating to the in-laws is the same in that they should be respectful to each other’s relatives whilst recognising the differences in their respective roles. The conclusion is the same for both.


Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
3 Jumada II 1434
14 April 2013


[Cite key: 130414501]

Fieldnote on ijtima – Issue 101

Here is a brief background on the first edition of ijtima (issue 101) which can be read at

The main theme of the edition is sincerity. The message is, “Dear students, the first lesson [is to] create weight in your actions”. Ironically, this edition actually was the last message given to those graduating from their studies. I wanted to allude to the concept of istiqamat with the point that the beginning and the end is same and hence they were on a straight line (صراط مستقيم). As a subtext, I wanted one message which will suffice for which I turned to the hadith in which a Sahabi asked the prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) give me an advice after which I will not need another. The prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) said, “قل لا اله الا فاستقم” (Say, there is none worthy of worship and stand firm).

It comprises of three articles, (1) Dear students…, (2) The first lesson, and (3) Create weight in your action. The first article was written on 13 Sha’ban 1432 AH (13 July 2011 CE) as a parting advice to graduates finishing their Alimah course. The second article was a speech I gave at a Khatm Bukhari graduation ceremony on 15 Sha’ban 1432 (15 July 2011). The third article is a translation of a segment from the lesson given by Shaykh al-Islam Mufti Taqi Usmani during that ceremony. It highlights the possible dangers of the path for those who may have succeeded.

I present this set to students at the beginning and end of their study to plot their journey. ‘Dear students…‘ sets out the path for those seeking the pleasure of Allah. ‘The first lesson‘ highlights the dangers of falling from the path. ‘Create weight in your action‘ highlights the dangers of overshooting the path. The key is balance (istiqamat).


Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
14 Zul Qa’da 1432
16 November 2011

Cite key: 111116501