Question: It is written in fiqh books, “When the appointed time for a salat starts, it does not become fard upon a person to perform it immediately. Performing it becomes fard when the remaining time before the end of its time is so little that it permits only the performance of that fard salat.” Does it not become fard (obligatory) upon a person to perform a salat as soon as the appointed time for it starts?
No, performing it does not become fard upon a person as soon as the time for it starts. If the contrary were true, it would be haram to perform it 10 minutes or half an hour or an hour later. Of course, it is better to offer it immediately when the time for it starts, but offering it becomes fard when it gets very close to the end of its appointed time.
If one dies without having performed a fard salat though the time for it has arrived, one will not be accountable for that salat because performing it becomes obligatory when the time left before the expiry of its time is so little that it permits only the performance of that salat. However, when one starts performing a salat after the arrival of its time, it becomes fard to perform it.
Sacrificing an animal (qurban) on Eid al-Adha becomes wajib on a well-off person on the third day of Eid al-Adha. It does not become wajib earlier than that day. If one dies on the second day of Eid al-Adha without sacrificing an animal, one will not be held accountable. If one dies on the third day without sacrificing an animal, one will be held accountable. If one sacrifices it on the first day of Eid al-Adha, one is considered to have performed the wajib act. Just as it is the case with salat, one is considered to have performed the wajib act when one or one’s deputy starts to sacrifice an animal any day of these three days.
The same rule applies to hajj. If one goes to the Ka’ba before the days of hajj come, it does not become fard upon one to perform hajj. It becomes fard when the time for hajj comes. If one dies on the way to hajj, one will not be accountable for not performing the hajj. However, if one does not perform the hajj in the year when one has reached the richness threshold and dies on the way when going there in the following year, then one will be held accountable for not performing the hajj in the previous year. However, if one delays the hajj and performs it in the years to come, one is considered to have performed the obligation.
So is the case with zakat. It is not fard to pay zakat until one year passes. However, if one gives it before due date, be it a year earlier, one is considered to have paid zakat. If one pays the zakat of several years to come beforehand, one will earn the reward of the fard obligation, provided that one is rich in those years to come.
Question: If a child who has not reached puberty yet performs a fard salat when the time for it starts and then has reached puberty when it gets quite close to the end of the time for that salat, does he have to repeat it?
Yes, it is fard upon that child to perform the salat during the time of which he has reached puberty. The salat he offered before this time is considered a voluntary salat. A child is not obligated to perform salat before puberty. Similarly, when an unconscious person becomes conscious or when the menstruation or postnatal bleeding of a woman stops at the end of a salat time, it becomes fard upon him/her to perform that salat. If he/she has not performed it within its prescribed time, it is fard to make it up. (Durr-ul-mukhtar)
If a child performs Salat al-Isha and then experiences a wet dream (that is, he has reached puberty), it is fard upon him to repeat Salat al-Isha until the time for Salat al-Fajr starts. Imam-i Muhammad asked Imam-i A’zam Abu Hanifa the ruling regarding this matter and he replied, “Yes, it is fard upon him to repeat Salat al-Isha” (Radd-ul-mukhtar).