In every Aqidah book, including in Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah’s (‘Nasibis’) ‘Aqeedah al-Wasitiyyah you can read the testimony of Ahlus-Sunnah with regards to their love of Ahlul-Bayt that is based on a balance i.e. they neither hate the Ahlul-Bayt (like Nawasib) nor have fallen into extremism with them (like the Rawafid), it is a middle path where the Ahlul-Bayt are given their due right, love for them is incumbent upon every Muslim and the scholars of Islam from Bukhari to the smallest Muhaddith have filled their books with chapters of the merits of the Ahlul-Bayt.
Of course, Rawafid will never be satisfied with that, just like the Christians will never be satisfied with Muslims expressing their love for Jesus (peace be upon him). Both – Imam and Messiah worshippers – will only rest until you follow their false religions and exaggerate with Ahlul-Bayt/Jesus as they have done.
Back to Omid Safi. His ‘Ahlul-Bayt loving Sunni Islam’ echoes similar statements like when Rawafid refer to themselves as ‘lovers of Ahlul-Bayt’ or ‘followers of the school of Ahlul-Bayt’ like as if Muslims (who reject Imamism, NOT the Ahlul-Bayt) are opponents of the Ahlul-Bayt.
The Ahlul-Bayt are part of the Sahabah and the chief of the Sahabah are the Muhajirs and Ansar (Qur’an 9:100), they are the role models for every Muslim after them, Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, etc. have to follow them and not vice versa as per the clear-cut nass (text) of the Qur’an.
Omid Safi’s remark and statements similar to his are sly insults that Rafidis (no matter in what shade, 50 shades of Rafidism are still Rafidism) can’t resist but to utter, even seemingly liberal Sufi types like Omid, the ‘professor’ (!) of Islam.
The actual truth is that a ‘Ahlul-Bayt loving Sunni Islam’ is nothing but another word, a code if you like (used in this form until this very day by the descendants of the Safavids in the Hawzat of Qom and elsewhere), for Batini Quboori Sufi forms of ‘Sunnism’ that were widespread in Sunni/Pre-Shia Persia (especially in the Azerbaijani regions i.e. the homeland of the Safavids) and were one of the factors for the spread of Shiism in Persia before the Safavids even began slaughtering and forcing the majority of Sunni Iranians to Rafidism.
The Rafidis always sell the Safavids as ‘Ex-Sunnis’ without mentioning that the grandfather of Ismail Safavid (who converted to Imamism) actually belonged to a deviant Sufi Tariqah that was just nominally Shafi’i in Fiqh but like many Sufi Tariqahs (even today) shared many heretical beliefs and rituals that are also found in Twelver Shiism, particularly excessive veneration of saints/Imams/Ahlul-Bayt and other forms of Ghuluww (exaggeration).
I remember once studying a research article by a Qom/Hawzah running missionary organisation where the Shia clerics advised on how to convert Sunnis to Imamism. A repeated point (that you will often hear by Rafidis in general) was to stay away from the ‘Wahhabis/Salafis’ (they know they are the flag bearers in refuting Rafidism) and rather focus on the ‘true Sunnis’, those with ‘khosh’ (pleasant/good) beliefs such as the grave and shrine venerating Sufis whom they (Rafidi clergy) sometimes refer to as Twelver (!) Sunnis!