Salaam to Everyone,
The confusion and misinterpretation of these very important activities that the Quran has told mankind to perform such as Salat, Hajj, and Saum have all been grealty distorted and misunderstood not only because of the heavy Ajami influences that these terms accumulated over time but also because people continue to hold on to a religious stigma to these activities and are not approaching the Qur'an from a Deen persective. The understanding of these terms have done nothing good to the Muslim Ummah and are in fact are actually enervating the social and intellectual development of Muslim societies worldwide. I am glad to see that many people on this forum have made some keen observations on these issues and are not simply blindly following what is preached by the Ajami masses. Deen in itself is not supposed to be binding,restrictive or unchanging but in fact is supposed to be dynamic,reactionary and flexible towards application of different times and situations working in perfect concert with the rest of the creation according to divine plan.
Many Muslims are confused as to why the Qur'an does not give clear definitive details,only guildelines, with duties such as Hajj, Saum, Salat, but have yet to realize the brilliance and divine wisdom of not stating particular unchanging and dogmatic rituals as practiced today by Muslims but rather leaving simple mulitfaceted terms that can be used in accordance with the rest of the divine guidlines and the creativity of human reason throughout different times. That has in fact been the problem with many religions, as one will also notice throughout history, the followers of each messenger who came with a deen began to bind the dynamic system of life to unobjective, unchanging rituals and dogmas instead of simply adhering to the progressive guidlines and principles which ultimately led to systems that quickly began to conflict with different societies and times.
Although, this may sound strange to some people it would not make sense if the Qur'an bound these vital duties to specific formulas as nations,societies, intellectual faculities and needs of people change throughout time. These openings in which the Qur'an has left has allowed mankind to maximize not only their intellectual and social potentials but also their progression as a species. Once these concepts began to loose their malleabilty and began to be bound to unchangeable conepts by the prevailing religious clegry and elites, Muslim societies began to greatly stagnate in their intellectual and societal development. These bounded terms ended up not only giving foreign meanings to these vital concepts but in the process ended up doing the exact opposite of what the Qur'an wants us to do-progress.
It was not the fault of Allah or the Nabi that Muslims began to trail behind in civilization and misunderstood the message that was to be taught to mankind. The Qur'an has done a great service to mankind in the way that it has explained these terms and the rest of its message. The West just as stated by Dr.Shabbir in IAIU although having many UnIslamic practices within their societies and even in their governments, has nevertheless actualized the type of creative thinking and societal progression the Qur'an wants us to make without the use of the Qur'an. If Muslim majority societies use the same type of creative thinking on ways to foster societal progression with the light of the Qur'an, I would have no doubt that Qur'anic system and its followers would have eminence in this world today. The Qur'an exhorts mankind to use their creative faculties to inculcate these divine principles to establish the divinely prescribed system on earth. Did Allah forget to give us sufficient guidance for these essential principles and activities? No, as a matter of fact if one does just what the Qur'an states: letting the book explains itself, self relflection and observation of what is around you whether in nature or your environment and understanding the law of cause and effect not only do these terms become very clear but so does the rest of its message.
The more that I have studied the Qur'an, the more that I have realized the extreme importance of understanding these terms correctly for the actual implementation of a successful Qur'anic society. This, however will require a radical change of thought and study of the Qur'an's message and how we can apply its enlightening message to today's environment. This change however should be coming from the civil society and ordinary Muslims citizens through discussion and dialogue in their communities. We should no longer wait for the Mullahs to wake up and realize the fault of their thinking and tradition. The establishment of true Qur'anic society will only happen when ordinary citizens work together in their civil societies to collectively understand these values. I am actually in the process of writing a section in brother Arnold Yasin's think tank organization the deenresearchcenter(DRC),www.deenresearchcenter.com on the Yaum Ad-Deen, its meanings and the implications that it holds for mankind in the future. I will discuss these issues and also other researchers from the site may include their own research on this topic.