What is Sufism and Tasawuf ?

Question :

What is sufism and tasawuf?

Answer (Sheikh Taha Jaber Alalwani) :

Tasawwuf started in the Muslim ummah in the 1st century of hijrah when
some of the sahabah and the tabiyyeen tried to stay away from
everything they got after they opened Iraq, Egypt, Syria and the other
countries. Some of them decided to continue as Mujahiddeen or to be
busy with their Ibadah and serving the Umaah in teaching or some other
service in different parts of the life. They carried at that time
"Az-Zuhaad." Zahid means the person who dislikes to enjoy everything of
halal because he is afraid that would make him busy with himself and
enjoying halal that much would lead to some haram or unclean sources.

After that, tassawuf, like any other part of knowledge and
activities, grew up and a lot of the sufi's like abul Qasim Al-Junaid
al-Baghdadi practiced that to be examples for those people who live
their life to prepare and build for the hereafter.

After the fourth century of hijrah, the sufism divided into two
kinds: the sunni tasawwuf and the bid'i tasawwuf. The Sunni tassawuf to
practice the zuhud and the Ibadah according to the Sunnah of the
Prophet (SAAWS) and the way of life of his diciples and his people. The
other kind of sufism, called tassawuf bid'i, means that kind of sufism
based on the teaching and way of life of the people who came from India
and Persia and some other places to join the Muslim ummah and Islam.
They practiced their way of sufism in the Muslim Ummah environment.

With this, the 'Ulama of the Ummah took different positions
regarding tassawuf. SOme of them supported tassawuf and the majority of
them accepted Sufism because they knew that this is part of the Sunnah
and the way of life of the Khulafah ar-Rashidun. Some other people
objected to some kinds of Sufism and some orders who were practicing
that bid'i Sufism. We should be careful when we deal with this issue
and we should judge the people and the orders according to the light of
Qur'an and the tradition of the Prophet (SAAWS), his Sunnah and his
Seerah. We need to adopt the Sufism which our Khulafah ar-Rashidun and
Ahl-ul Bait (Prophet's family) were practicing. And Allah Knows best.

Source : Islamonline