“When a person dies, all their deeds end except three: a continuing charity, beneficial knowledge and a child who prays for them.”
عند موت الإنسان تنتهي كل أعماله إلا ثلاثة: صدقة مستمرة ، وعلم نافع ، وطفل يصلي من أجلهم
In Islam, Lillah means a pure act of charity, something given solely for the pleasure of Allah SWT. These charitable donations are completely voluntary and, unlike Zakat, are not due from every Muslim every year. Lillah is a type of Sadaqah Nafilah that is not required or an obligation on a person to give it, you can give Lillah to any institution (e.g. a mosque, hospital, school, orphanage, etc.).
Zakat is specific while Lillah and Sadaqah are general donations (voluntary).
What is Lillah?
Lillah is an Arabic word, which means ‘for Allah’. Essentially, this means any form of voluntary charity given in the name of Allah. Donations like this are not the same as Zakah, which one has to make because of one’s obligations, but rather they are given for the betterment of others, whether they are Muslims or not.
In the context of charitable organizations, for example, and in many other humanitarian efforts, many collect Lillah for relief aid, the construction of wells, the building of Masajid, the running costs of madrassahs, and many other humanitarian causes. Islamic contributors give in response to Allah’s pleasure and do so from their goodwill. This is a form of charity, which broadly means ‘charity or ‘Sadaqah’, it is also called Sadaqah Jariyah which means continuous charity.
So, what we have learnt about Lillah is that this is Sadaqah Nafilah but is a type that does not have the condition of having to be passed into the possession of a person, as it can be given to institutes (e.g. Masajid, hospitals, schools, orphanages, etc).
“By no means shall ye attain righteousness unless ye give (freely) of that which ye love; and whatever ye give, of a truth God Knowth it well” (surah al-‘imran 3:92).
Difference Between Zakat, Sadaqah, and Lillah
“And establish prayer and give Zakat, and whatever good you put forward for yourselves – you will find it with Allah.” (2:110, Qur'an)
In general, the charity of zakat is given directly to the poor or indebted Muslims. It should not be used as Lillah on projects such as new buildings, hospitals, and salaries. The Quran mentions eight categories of people who are deserving of Zakah. Zakat is paid annually at the beginning and end of the financial lunar year by those who have nisab (an amount designated for savings).
An individual can give Sadaqah at any time of the day or night throughout the year. Despite Islam’s prohibition on sending Sadaqah after bad dreams or illnesses, many people choose to give Sadaqah after these experiences. However, Sadaqah cannot substitute for Zakat, it is a contribution made in addition to it with the expectation of great rewards during Ramadan.
ظل المؤمن يوم القيامة صدقته
“The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.”
Sadaqah and Sadaqah Jariyah are not the only forms of Sadaqah. Among the other forms is Lillah. ‘Lillah’ means ‘for the sake of Allah’, a type of Sadaqah donation that is not given to a person, but an institution such as an orphanage, hospital, or mosque instead of an individual.
The Islamic term Lillah is synonymous with sadaqah, while zakat is one of its types. It is believed that Lillah is an unrestricted fund, sadaqah is a limited fund that may be used for welfare (public works), meanwhile, zakat is very strictly restricted and you must only give to specified categories. But there is sometimes no distinction in terms of the recipients made between sadaqah wajibah and zakat.