A man gave some food in charity to provide iftar during Ramadan, a week or a few days before the month of Ramadan began. Will he have the reward for charity as if he gave it in Ramadan or not? Or is the reward for providing iftar to one who is fasting only earned during Ramadan?
Praise be to Allah.
If someone gives charity to provide iftar for one who is fasting in Ramadan and gives his charity to a charitable organization or to someone else to act as his proxy, to be given during Ramadan, and the proxy gives it like that, then he will attain the reward of providing iftar for one who is fasting during Ramadan.
Similarly, if he gives food to a poor person to break his fast with it during Ramadan, and he does that, he will attain the reward mentioned in the hadith of Zayd ibn Khalid al-Juhani, who said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever gives food for a fasting person to break his fast will have a reward like theirs, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest.” Narrated and classed as sahih by at-Tirmidhi (807); also narrated by Ibn Majah (1746); classed as sahih by Ibn Hibban (8/216) and al-Albani.
If one who is fasting breaks his fast with it during Sha‘ban, the one who gave the charity will attain the reward of fasting in Sha‘ban.
Conclusion: giving charity during Ramadan may be achieved in three ways:
Giving the charity in Ramadan.
Giving it before Ramadan, but stipulating that it should be used in Ramadan.
Similarly, if the giver does not stipulate that, but the fasting person breaks his fast with that food during Ramadan, then it may truly be said that the giver provided iftar to one who was fasting in Ramadan.
And Allah knows best.