The following excerpt is taken from “Exposition of the Quran” by G.A. Pervez pg. 1210-1211:
Zakal malo waz-zaro means the flourishing of animals and crops; and to grow.
Zaka-ar-rajalo yazku means that the person became comfortable, got his capabilities developed and his life became happy and comfortable (Taj/Ibn-e-Qutaida). Therefore, the basic meaning of zaka is to grow, to flower, flourish or blossom; to increase, swell, or develop. Raghib after writing these meanings, gives an example of the word azka in verse (18:19), “Then see which type of food is most pleasant (azka), i.e., which has more nutritional value.”
Zaka is derived from the three letter root ZKW with the basic meaning of ‘to grow, to thrive’as mentioned in (18:19). In the Quran the two words azka and athar are used in different meanings, e.g. , in verse (2:232). In fact, purification has a negative virtue, whereas zakat has a positive value, i.e., to grow or get nourishment.
The author of Muheet, giving reference of Baidawi says that the meaning of azzkiu is that which grew beautifully with healthy, positive qualities from one age to another. It has the quality and meaning of both development as well as growth. Ardun zakaitun is that fertile land which provides excellent produce. Azka means that which is more profitable, much better. Nafsun zakiyya means a young man with good physique (18:74). At another place such a young man has been called ghulaman zakiyya (19:19).
In verses (91:9-10), word dassaha has been used against zakkaha. Dassaha or tadsia means to surpress, to bur alive, (16:59) or to stop the growth. Tazkia, therefore would mean to remove all obstacles from the way and create healthy, positive circumstances for growth. Verse (53:33) further explains the meaning of zaka, which says, “You yourself should not decide that your self is getting developed or not. Instead, one should keep in view the standard laid down by Allah., and the system explained by Him.” For example, in verse (92:18) Allah says “That person’s self is developed who gives his wealth to others,” and ‘Whoever gives, is the one who is muttaqee” (92:5).
In the Holy Quran the words aqeemus salata wa atuz zaka have beenused extensively and repeatedly (for the meaning of salat, please see under heading sala). Such verses briefly mean, to establish a social order in which every person has the chance and opportunity to develop his self, according to the divine laws.
Verse (22:41) says that these people (jamat ul momineen) are those to who when we give authority in the land, aqmoos salata wa atuz zaka- they establish the Quranic social order and provide means for all for the development of their personalities.
Verse (23:4) is also important in this regard, as it explains that momineen are those who strive for zaka, i.e., for providing nourishment for humanity. As mentioned above, verse (22:41) shows that the first and foremost duty of the state is to establish a social order and provide means of sustenance and nourishment to humanity. In order to achieve this objective, it is necessary that the sources of wealth should be at the disposal of the state. All the citizens should keep the surplus of their earnings available to the state, so that is may take of it as much as it requires providing sustenance and nourishment to the needy (2:219). Such a system would take some time to establish itself. Meanwhile, for the transitory period, the government can levy taxes for which the Quran has also used the word sadaqat, which are earmarked for certain purposes (9:60).Some people have extended and applied this verse for the management of zaka money, which is not correct. The Holy Quran has neither fixed any percentage (such as 2.5 %), nor specified the items on which zakat is leviable. The idea that zakat is the tax levied by Allah and whatever else collection is made by the state is the government tax is not correct. The dualism of “Caesar and God” being two separate entities, is the Christian concept. In Islam, whatever one gives to the state for the establishment and enforcement of the Islamic social order is as given to Allah.