العبرة بالحقائق والمعاني لا بالأسماء والمبانيأن العبرة في الحكم على الأشياء بالمسميات لا بالأسماء
The criterion for judging matters is based on their reality and not on what they are called.
There is no doubt that the best generation of Islam, that is the pious Salaf (predecessors), did not refer to themselves as Sufis, in fact, the term Sufism (التصوف) is of heavily disputed origin, however, it does not contain a bad meaning in and of itself, thus, some later scholars did use that term (even the likes of Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, and other than them), nonetheless, they rejected the falsehood that even back at their times was associated with it and only confirmed what is in line with the Shari’ah.
In short: No Muslim, Sunni, with an ounce of knowledge rejects Maqasid such as Zuhd, Tazkiyyah al-Nafs, Ihsan, etc. i.e. (Islamic) asceticism and the purification of the soul and everything else related to the heart and spirituality. Whoever denies these matters is either an ignoramus or a heretic or both.
The scholars of Islam say:
التصوف الصحيح بني على الزهد، والزهد أصل من أصول الشريعة
Correct and authentic Tasawwuf (Sufism) is based on Zuhd (Islamic asceticism ) and Zuhd is a branch of the branches of the Shari’ah.
Al-Shibly (may Allah have mercy upon him) defined Sufism saying:
Sufism is to keep your senses and watch your breath.
The early Salaf used the term ‘Zuhd’ instead of Tasawwuf, the likes of ‘Abdullah Ibn al-Mubarak al-Turkumani (181 AH), Hannad ibn al-Sari (152 AH), Imam Ahmad, etc.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (whom some ignorant Quburi Sufis attribute to themselves, not understanding that he literally rebuked every beloved heresy that they uphold in the name of Sufism today) was very balanced and just. He literally said that amongst the greatest Awliya of Allah are those who were called Sufis.
والتحقيق أن فيه الممدوح والمذموم ـ يعني في مذهب التصوف الممدوح والمذموم ـ والمذموم منه ما يكون اجتهادياً ومنه غير ذلك، كفقه الرأي فإنه قد ذم فقه الرأي طوائف من الفقهاء والعلماء والعباد ” . ثم يقول : ” ومـن المتسمين بهذا الاسم ـ أي التصوف ـ من أولياء الله وصفوته وخيار عباده ما لا يعلم عددهم إلا الله، كما أن من أهل الرأي ـ أي من فقهاء الرأي ـ أهل العلم والإيمان طوائف لا يعلم عددهم إلا الله
Nevertheless, there is no contradiction in the statements of the very same scholars who have condemned (pseudo-) Tasawwuf for its heresies, to the extent that they have linked it to Shi’ism/Rafidism:
التصوف بوابة التشيع
Sufism is the gateway to Shiism.
No matter how much Quburi and Rafidi Sufis differ (they certainly do), they are united in their Ghuluww regarding their buried and tombed saints/demigods, and thus it is not surprising that the Shia clergy parades the Sufis as ‘true Sunnis’ and that Rafidism grows and flourishes where folklore, Bida’, Khurafat, and Ghuluw (like grave-saint-Imam-Shaykh-Pir veneration) are rampant, like in many of not most Sufi communities.
Rafidism naturally grows and prospers in such habitats.As already clarified, correct and authentic Tasawwuf is based on Zuhd (Islamic asceticism) and Zuhd is a branch of the branches of the Shari’ah, and no Muslim rejects this except an ignoramus who doesn’t who that he’s an ignoramus (most Athari-Salafis who rejects Sufism intend its heretical form).
Zuhd is actually an essential part of Islam and one of its sciences and a necessity to nurture one’s soul. Thus, dismissing Sufism (as in Zuhd ) wholesale and refusing to acknowledge any good in Sufism and its leaders, and warn people away from it is a form of extremism (Ghuluww) that must be avoided.
Our opposition towards heretics like the Rafidah shouldn’t diminish our love for the Ahlul-Bayt neither should our opposition to Pseudo-Sufism make us forget to study and apply an essential Islamic science, a science and knowledge that is paramount to the nurturement of one’s heart and soul.
Finally, I’d like to recommend you an excellent source/website for topics related to authentic Islamic material that covers spirituality, Zuhd, Ihsan, Tazkiyat al-Nafs, and everything else related to the matters of the heart and soul i.e. Sunni Tawassuf so to speak.