This article was written in consultation with Mufti Muhammad Ismail, Head of the Zakat Committee at Muslim Charities Forum and Chairman of Muslim Hands South Africa.
Building water wells or distributing water is something many Muslims aspire to do, following the advice of the Prophet (saw) and the tradition of his Companions (ra). But we know there are a lot of questions around this process, such as: What is the impact of giving water? Can we give Zakat to water projects? And what is the ruling on building a well on behalf of someone else?
With that in mind, we've created a seven-point guide to giving water in Islam.
1. Is giving water a charity in Islam?
Yes, it is charity to give water in Islam! In fact, it is the best charity and you can give any amount of water to gain reward.
Moreover, he (saw) said, 'Pouring what remains from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity'. [Tirmidhi]
This means that, even if you can't afford to build a well and you want to give a smaller amount of water, this is still rewardable.
You can learn more in our article about the seven rewards of giving water in Islam.
2. Can I give my Zakat to a water well?
Zakat can be given to eight places: the poor, the needy, the wayfarers, those in debt or captivity, people whose hearts need to be reconciled, those who distribute Zakat and in the way of Allah.
Meanwhile, water wells can be built for anybody, so they are not automatically Zakat-eligible. However, many charities only build water wells for people in desperate need, who are struggling to access clean water.
At Muslim Hands, we first assess whether the community is eligible for Zakat, then we consult them. If they tell us there is an urgent need for water, then we construct a well using your Zakat and transfer ownership of the water to the needy community.
For example, at Muslim Hands, we build water wells for:
- People who have to walk several kilometres to access water, often on dangerous paths or in extreme weather
- Communities who are drinking unsafe water and suffering from life-threatening illnesses as a result
- Water-scarce regions where drought or infrastructure problems have created a humanitarian emergency (such as Yemen)
In these cases, building a water well means the difference between life and death. Since it is helping the poor and needy and fulfilling their basic right to clean water, it is eligible for Zakat.
Moreover, it maximises the impact of your Zakat. Rather than providing short-term aid to a few individuals, the whole community can benefit from the water well, transforming lives for future generations as well.
At Muslim Hands, our Tube Wells, Dig-a-Wells and Community Wells are all eligible for Zakat. Find out more in our article: Which Islamic Water Projects are Zakat-Eligible and Why?
3. Are water wells Sadaqah Jariyah?
Sadaqah Jariyah means 'a continuous charity'. If you give charity once but it benefits people for a long time, that is Sadaqah Jariyah.
For example, when you build a water well, it won't just serve one person at one time. It will last for many years, serving dozens or even hundreds of people per day. Every single time someone drinks from its water, or uses it to cook, wash clothes, plant crops or make wudu - that counts as a charity. As it continues to benefit people, your rewards continue to grow.
Therefore, building a water well is definitely a Sadaqah Jariyah.
4. Can I build a well in someone's name in Islam?
The Prophet (saw) directly said that you can give water on behalf of someone else:
On the authority of Sa'd bin Ubadah that he said, 'O Messenger of Allah! Umm (mother of) Sa‘d has died, so which charity is best?' He (saw) replied, '[Providing] water'. He (ra) said, 'So [Sa'd] dug a well and said, "This (well) is for Umm Sa'd"'. [Abu Dawud]
If you build a well with Muslim Hands, you can include a plaque to show it is on a behalf of a loved one (or several loved ones):
5. What are the types of water projects?
There are five main types of water projects you can support at Muslim Hands:
- Manually-operated wells, which include a hand pump
- Electric wells or boreholes, which include a storage tank and often use solar power
- Rainwater systems, which collect rain instead of drilling groundwater (usually in remote communities)
- Filtration plants, which purify water to prevent waterborne illnesses in the local area
- Infrastructure projects, which reform major water systems to supply an entire city (for example, in Yemen)
6. How is a water well built at Muslim Hands?
We have three main water wells at Muslim Hands:
- A Tube Well (£190) serves up to four families and is usually located near their homes. Here's how a Tube Well is built.
- A Dig-a-Well (£660) serves up to 200 people, typically from a communal area such as a village centre or school. Here's how a Dig-a-Well is built.
- A Community Well (£2,600) can serve over 1,000 people (the exact number depends on size and location). You can see the impact of a Community Well in the below video.
The above links show how a well is typically built, but our experts may adjust this process to make it more suitable for some locations. We evaluate each well on a case-by-case basis to make sure it is constructed in the best way. All our wells include a personalised plaque.
7. How can I donate a water well with Muslim Hands?
- If you want to give but still have some questions, please call 0115 911 7222 and they will gladly help you out.
- If you're ready to build a water well - simply click here. Bismillah!
Muslim Hands is an award-winning charity, established in 1993 to provide emergency relief and tackle the root causes of poverty. We hope this article was useful to you - please share with friends and family, so they can benefit as well!