I'm finding it hard to identify the boundary between "cultural practices" and, for lack of a better term, "applied Islam".

Question: What distinguishes "cultural practices" with "applied Islam"?

The distinction is important, because cultural practices are off topic

The following, however, are considered off-topic here except where they're shown to be directly relevant to the religion of Islam:

  • Cultural practices and behaviour of Muslim communities ...

while, as far as I can tell, asking questions about how one applies Islamic teachings to one's life is on topic. Likewise, how communities as a whole apply Islamic teachings also seems on topic.

Complication 1: Many cultural practices in Islamic communities exist because they are believed to be part of Islam. A cultural boundary may exist based on an Islamic sect, and questions about sects are on topic.

Complication 2: Difference in scholarly opinion means that what's cultural practice to one scholar, could be part of Islamic teachings to another scholar.

Complication 3: It can be difficult to distinguish between:

  • a group of Muslims do X, and X is allowed in Islam ("applied Islam"),
  • a group of Muslims do X, but X is not allowed in Islam ("cultural practices"),
  • a group of Muslims does not do X, but X is allowed in Islam ("cultural practices"), and
  • a group of Muslims does not do X, and X is not allowed in Islam ("applied Islam").

This makes it difficult to ask about X.

Complication 4: There's fatawa on cultural practices.

Complication 5: It is beneficial to learn not only about "theoretical Islam" but how it actually exists in the real world, even though it differs from place to place.



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