A human being is a creature that learns and applies the learning to situations. Basically, we are talking here of KNOWLEDGE and ACTIVITIES.
In order to enhance the ease and swiftness by which we learn and respond to situations, Allah blessed us with BELIEFS and HABITS.
Our knowledge is automatically arranged into Beliefs while our activities are organized into Habits. This is our nature.
When we come to the Community level, the collective habits are referred to as CULTURE and TRADITIONS.
Because of this our nature, we can now engage in various activities simultaneously without any hitch and can boast of being specialists in various fields of learning.
When a person does anything repeatedly, the mind is conditioned. It then becomes possible for the mind to respond with such act without much ATTENTION. This is how one is able to drive and engage in discussion.
In your speech, you only intend and you find yourself saying the right thing. In driving, a person crosses the road and you find your leg on the break.
This far, Habit is good and very useful.
The DISADVANTAGE of Habit however, is that it soon turns meaningful activities into mere ?forms?.
AL-IBAADAH is a collection of activities which are intended to create in us some impressions so that we remain vigilant of our DECISION (Al-Iman) and move steadily towards actualizing it.
The tendency, as anyone should expect, is that the activities are turned into habits, culture and traditions. When this happens, the activities cease to create the impressions they are designed to create; they loose their meanings. They become mere forms, culture, rituals?
Allah says: ?Woe onto those who pray but are unmindful of their prayers.?
It is for this reason that INTENTION otherwise AWARENESS is a compulsory condition in any Ibaadah. Any activity that is done without the intended awareness is useless and unacceptable and can not be regarded as al-Ibaadah.
Therefore, for a MUTTAQI to remain vigilant, he has to fight against habit (in al-Ibaadah). This is how al-Islam is AWARENESS and not TRADITION.