What Ibn Taymiyya Says About the Term `Tasawwuf'
Here we will mention what Imam Ibn Taymiyya, mentioned about the definition of Tasawwuf, from Volume 11,"At-Tawassuf" of "Majmu'a Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya al-Kubra," Dar ar-Rahmah, Cairo,
"Alhamdulillah, the pronunciation of the word Tasawwuf has been thoroughly discussed. From those who spoke about Tasawwuf were not just the the Imams and Shaikhs, but also included were Ahmad bin Hanbal, Abi Sulayman ad-Daarani, As-Sirr as-Saqati, al-Junayd al-Baghdadi, Hasan al-Basri, Ma'aruf al-Karkhi, Abdul Qadir Jilani, Bayazid al-Bistami [one of the grandshaikhs of the Naqshbandi Tariqat] and many others. This is a term that was given to those who were dealing with that kind of science [tazkiyyat an-nafs and Ihsan]."
Imam Ibn Taymiyya says:
"Tassawuf has realities and states of experience which they talk about in their science. Some of it is that the Sufi is that one who purifies himself from anything which distracts him from the remembrance of Allah and who will be so filled up with knowledge of the heart and knowledge of the mind to the point that the value of gold and stones will be the same to him.
And Tasawwuf is safeguarding the precious meanings and leaving behind the call to fame and vanity in order to reach the state of Truthfulness, because the best of humans after the prophets are the Siddiqeen, as Allah mentioned them in the verse:
'(And all who obey God and the Apostle) are in the company of those on whom is the grace of Allah: of the prophets, the sincere lovers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous; Ah! what a beautiful fellowship.'"
Ibn Taymiyya continues:
"as-Sufi hua fil-haqiqa naw'un min as-siddiqeen. Fahua as-siddiq alladhee ikhtassa bil-zuhadiwal-'ibada."
"And the Sufi is in reality a kind of Siddiq (Truthful One), that Siddiq who specialized in zuhd and worship."
He continues about the Sufis,
"some people criticised Sufiyya and Tasawwuf and they said they were innovators, out of the Sunnah, but the truth is they are striving in Allah's obedience[mujtahidin fi ta'at-illahi], as others of Allah's People strove in Allah's obedience.
So from them you will find the Foremost in Nearness by virtue of his striving [as-saabiq ul-muqarrab bi hasab ijtihadihi]. And some of them are from the People of the Right hand [Ahl al-Yameen mentioned in Qur'an in Sura Waqi'ah], but slower in their progress. For both kinds, they might make ijtihad and in that case they might be correct and they might be wrong. And from both types, some of them might make a sin and repent. And this is the origin of Tasawwuf. And after that origin, it has been spread and (tasha'abat wa tanawa'at) has its main line and its branches. And it has become three kinds:
1. Sufiyyat il-Haqa'iq - the True Sufis
2. Sufiyyat il-Arzaaq - the Professional Sufis (those who use Sufism for personal gain)
3. Sufiyyat il-Rasm - the Caricature Sufis. (Sufi by appearance only)."