In the Shafi’i school, a person may pay one’s Zakat in advance of possessing the wealth for one lunar year (hawl). There are, however, conditions to advance payment. In order for one’s advance payment of Zakat to be valid:
- One must possess the Zakat-payable amount (nisab). If one wants to pay in advance and does not possess an amount that obligates one to pay Zakat (nisab) then one may not pay in advance. This is because it is the nisab that makes paying Zakat obligatory, and if one does not possess the nisab then paying Zakat does not make much sense. It is equivalent to paying money for something one has not bought. But then after a year if ones decided to purchase the item, one cannot say to the seller, “Please consider the money that I gave to you one year ago as payment for this item.”
- The person paying in advance must be eligible to pay Zakat for the entire year that they have paid in advance for.
- The property for which one is paying Zakat has not been destroyed nor has decreased under the Zakat-payable amount (nisab) for the duration of that year.
- The recipient of the Zakat remains eligible for receiving Zakat for the duration of that year.
Shafi’i scholars also stipulate that one can only pay in advance for one year. Therefore, one may not pay Zakat for two or five years in advance. (Refers to Bushra al-Karim, pg. 520-23, Fiqh al-Manhaji, pg. 315-316)
It is permissible, in the Shafi’i school, to pay Zakat al-Fitr once the month of Ramadan begins. One need not wait until after Fajr prayer the day of Eid to pay Zakat al-Fitr.
There are other details to this issue, inshaAllah what is here serves as sufficient guidelines one can follow. Allah the Exalted knows.
Answered by Shaykh Omar Qureshi.
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