The definition of zakaat becomes evident after proper studying of the word.
[Maryam 19:19] He said, "I am the messenger of your Lord, to grant you a (GHULAMAN ZAKIYYA) pure son."
[al-Kahf 18:74] So they went. When they met a (NAFSUN ZAKIYYA- pure, well built) young boy, he killed him. He said, "Why did you kill such an innocent person, who did not kill another person? You have committed something horrendous."
[al-Kahf 18:19] When we resurrected them, they asked each other, "How long have you been here?" "We have been here one day or part of the day,"they answered. "Your Lord knows best how long we stayed here, so let us send one of us with this money to the city. Let him fetch the (AZKA-pure, most nutritious) food, and buy some for us. Let him keep a low profile, and attract no attention.
So Zakaat means to purify, to grow, to nourish, to flower, to increase or develop.
But the question now is when we are told to establish salaat and zakaat, what is it we are purifying?
[ash-Shams 91:7] By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it;
[ash-Shams 91:8] And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;-
[ash-Shams 91:9] Truly he succeeds that (ZAKKAHA) purifies it,
[ash-Shams 91:10] And he fails that corrupts it!
From this detailed clarification, we see that it is our souls that we purify from the enlightenment we get from our regular salaat.
Let us look at another ayat.
[al-Baqarah 2:83] We made a covenant with the Children of Israel: "You shall not worship except The GOD. You shall honor your parents and regard the relatives, the orphans, and the poor. You shall treat the people amicably. You shall observe (Salat- reaching out through reading at prescribed times) and (Zakat- purifying yourself using your enlightenment from salaat)." But you turned away, except a few of you, and you became averse. (you threw the Scripture behind your backs and increased in wrong doing instead of purification)
SADAQAT, THE BEST METHOD OF ZAKAAT-
Now that we see that Zakaat is not charity according to The Reading (Qur'an), we have to determine how charity is expressed in The Reading. Traditionally , zakaat had been explained as charity, (2.5%) of your yearly income. This idea has no base in The God's revelation. The word in The Reading (Qur'an) for charity is Sadaqat. (2.5%) is no where to be found, instead we see the question of how much to give answered for us.
[al-Baqarah 2:219] They ask you about intoxicants and gambling: say, "In them there is a gross sin, and some benefits for the people. But their sinfulness far outweighs their benefit." They also ask you what to give to (sadaqa) charity : say, "The excess." The GOD thus clarifies the revelations for you, that you may reflect,
This answer of "the excess" is very clear, whatever you have that you do not need. Sadaqat (charity) is one of the prescribed methods of Zakaat (purification)
[at-Taubah 9:103] Take from their money a (sadaqa)charity to purify them and sanctify them. And salaat for them, for your salaat reassures them. The GOD is Hearer, Omniscient.
WHO IS SADAQAT FOR?
There are two ayats that clarify for us who charity should go to.
[at-Taubah 9:60] (Sadaqa) Charities shall go to the poor, the needy, the workers who collect them, the new converts, to free the slaves, to those burdened by sudden expenses, in the cause of The GOD, and to the traveling alien. Such is The GOD's commandment. The GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.
[al-Baqarah 2:215] They ask thee what they should spend (Nafaqa). Say: Whatever ye spend that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever ye do that is good, -The God knoweth it well.
We learn from above that Charity (Sadaqa) is the result of Spending (Nafaqa), which is further clarified below.
[al-Baqarah 2:262] Those who spend their substance in the cause of The God, and follow not up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury,-for them their reward is with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
[al-Baqarah 2:263] Kind words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. God is free of all wants, and He is Most-Forbearing.
Also we are told that our money to our wives is also sadaqa
[an-Nisa' 4:4] And give the women their (sadaqa) charity as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, Take it and enjoy it with right good cheer.
The God willing, after due reflection, you should now understand the meanings of Zakaat & Sadaqa.
[at-Taubah 9:71] The believing men and women are allies of one another. They advocate righteousness and forbid evil, they observe (Salat-Reaching out by reading Qur'an at prescribed times) and (Zakat- purification from following the commands and enlightenment in Qur'an such as spending in charity), and they obey The GOD and His messenger (Allah and His Message). These will be showered by The GOD's mercy. The GOD is Almighty, Most Wise.
[al-Bayyinah 98:5] All that was asked of them was to worship GOD, devoting the religion absolutely to Him alone, observe Salaat, and Zakaat. Such is the perfect religion.
6:105 "Thus do we make plain Our Revelation, that they may say: 'You have studied deep', and that this may become clear to men of understanding.
To The God alone belongs all praise.
By Kyle (firstname.lastname@example.org)