What I’m learning in Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s book “Moving the Mountain” part 3

The word “Islam” has lost the original meaning of being a set of actions described by the 5-pillars. It is now used as an identity of an entire group of people that spans several continents and has a 1400 year history. Just like it was a misunderstanding of mine to say that all Christians believe that the Pope is a holy man and a leader of their faith, it’d be a misunderstanding of others to consider that Jihad is a central and important concept in Islam.
Saying that Islam believes in veiling all their women is the same as saying that Americans love hot dogs and french fries. It’s statistically largely true, but mostly out of ignorance and a blatant disregard for their own health. In both accounts.
To gain a better understanding of what Islam means, think of it the way Sufists do. The Sufist ultimate aim is to be in the presence of God at all times. And for them, Islam, as the set of actions such as prayer and charity, is only the first step. After step 1, Sufists don’t stop being Muslims, they still continue to practice the fundamentals of step 1, they just move onto deeper practices and meditations.
For Sufists, Islam is what it was originally intended to be, a verb. But for the rest of the people in the world, Islam has become a noun that is supposed to encompass all that it is to be a Muslim. That is a misunderstanding of non Muslims, and it is disastrous for Sunni Muslims. If someone were to show you a stairway that rises up to some wonderful height and tells you that the first step is the most important and defines the rest of the entire stairway, that person is literally correct, but conceptually wrong. It’s the stairway and the destination that is important. The first step is just the first step. People see that inherently but are dissatisfied with focusing so much energy on that first step. Making that first step out to be the entire stairway turns people off, especially young people because they can easily see the larger picture but they are told to train their eyes and narrow their vision and compact their entire lives into one step.

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