Since the prophet Muhammad introduced Islam within the Arabic community fourteen centuries ago, we have known that Islamic tradition has its unique practices. As a religion, the foundation of Islam consists of five habitual obligations; shahada, sholat, zakat, fasting, and hajj (for those who are able to do). This obligation practices sometimes become problematic when a certain kind of human condition (as well as personally or sociologically) is not complied to perform it. To handle those problems Muslim community thus develop a methodological approach based on Islamic scripture and Sunna. And the product of that method is called fiqh.
I suppose this mode of knowledge, at least in basic form, have had inclusive feature because intellectual legal opinion discourse never claims to be the Truest. But when the official power formally promotes legal opinion as Islamic law and enables to enforce it in Muslim society, we can say that it is necessarily political.
Sure, the tension between Islam and politics (in a transformative sense) appears from the beginning when Muslim community vis a vis Quraish elite power. However, we must point out that the necessity of politics as a means of social organization in the Muhammad period tend to emphasize musyawara or democratic process to take public decisions.
The massive spread of Islam across Middle-East was mostly influenced by military conquest to establish political control. While the territory control was larger, a more complex political institution is needed. In the Utsman and Ali periods, the political institution still was not well developed. I think it is the root of political contestation between shahaba, especially on the matter of legitimate succession leader. Then the dynastic regime was created, inspired by sasanite kingdom, to monopolize political power.
Beyond such political dimension, we must realize that Muslim society has complex traditions. The spread of Islam also means that there is tension between established cultural traditions and religious normative values. In other words, it is the question of how religious-universal values shape the particularity of local traditions.
Muslim as social agent is not only behaving according to religious norms but also able to negotiate with other socio-cultural values and practices. For example, Muslims from Java mostly understand Islam with the available resource in pesantren—Islamic educational institution— and they tend to accommodate cultural practicessuch as slametan (communal fest) and ziarah. Concerning this fact, we can state that the traditions of Muslims vary depending on the local contexts.
Thus, how do we treat the diversity of Muslim traditions while at the same time we believe and recognise the universal value of Islam?
In principle, being Muslim is a process that stresses voluntaristic and inclusive participation to cultivate moral values. It is a never-ending process because we are human being. And every human being depends on their local circumstance to survive and learn to behave according to appropriate social conduct. So, within societies where Islamic value have been dominant, we found that Muslims never divorce and indeed creativity reproduce cultural practices. When this practice is consistently performed by Muslims the consequence is it becomes a tradition. And Surely each tradition enables to be transformed.
Unfortunately, the complexity of tradition within Muslim society has recently been threatened by the foundational-religious mode of thinking. Muslim foundationalist thinks that ‘Islam’ (more accurately their interpretation of Islam) must be a universal standard of human conduct. They believe that Islam contains a comprehensive solution to resolve contemporary problems.
But to become a universal standard Islam must be interpreted and formulated. What is the guarantee that all Muslims would agree with it? And in which ways the solution of Islam could be realized? These questions are simply answered by foundationalists with exclusive or dogmatic arguments that while Muslims are united Islam will hold the power and social problems miraculously eliminated only when Islamic norms are established to control society. It is can be said dangerous thought because they refuse to recognize the plurality of Muslims and never accommodate different aspirations. In other words, they want to suppress the complexity of Muslim traditions with a totalitarian version of Islamic tradition.