It is permissible for zakah to be paid for even two years in advance. Al-Zuhri did not see any problem in paying his zakah before the hawl. Al-Hasan was once asked if a man who had paid his zakah for three years in advance fulfilled his obligation. Al-Hasan answered in the affirmative. Of this view, ash-Shaukani said: “This was the view of ash-Shaf’i, Ahmad, and Abu Hanifah. It was supported by al-Hadi and al-Qasim.” Al-Mu’ayyad-billah also subscribes to this opinion as being better, but he says that Malik, Rabi’ah, Sufyan ath-Thauri, Dawud, Abu ‘Ubayd ibn al-Harith, and an-Nasir (who comes from the Prophet’s family) held that one’s obligation is not discharged if the zakah is paid before the expiration of the year. They formulated their stance on the Prophet’s hadith, already mentioned, which makes the zakah mandatory for the payer only when he has his possessions for a year. However, this does not invalidate the view of those who maintain that paying zakah in advance is lawful, for undeniably the obligation of zakah is associated with the expiry of one full year. The difference is only on the point of whether one’s obligation is discharged if the zakah is paid before the year has expired.” Ibn Rushd sums up the subject: “The controversy arises from the question whether it is an act of worship or an obligation owed to the poor. The group which considers it an act of worship, like salah (prayers), does not agree that it should be paid before its time. On the other hand, the group which views it as similar to the case of deferred obligatory dues approves its voluntary payment in advance.” In support of his view, ashShaf’i relates a hadith from ‘Ali that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, asked for al-‘Abbas’ sadaqah before its due date.