Abstract: Even though academic research on Sufism has gained significant momentum in recent years, these studies have not yet reached the quality that is able to attend to the uncertainty about Sufism. The primary reason for this is we have the conception of Sufism to be found to be nurtured from two sources that don’t always align with one another: The first of these is the understanding that the Sunni Sufi works developed after al-Junayd al-Baghdadi represent. According to this understanding, the methods, topics, and issues of Sufism, by becoming a science of religion after the critical phase of renunciation, became a distinct moral science. The second conception is the Sufism that formed around charismatic leaders who were represented in the sects that emerged in Muslims’ social lives. Among other things, an understanding of Sufism existed in various regions of Islamic society through sects at a level that remained strange and nâdân[uneducated] even in relation to the rhetorical style of Sufism. The problems peculiar to this Sufism is that, even though it has its own characteristics, objective and reliable ways about Sufism can only be found in the research on the rhetorical style of Sufism. While these works analyze Sufism in the process of becoming a science of religion, they also reveal the real reasons for the emergence of Sufism and its distinction from other religious attitudes and disciplines. The most basic feature that distinguishes Sufism from other attitudes is the conceptualization of the powerful and active God that it advocates. With the development of religious sciences, the Muslim community gave its awareness to the sharia and religious laws instead of God Himself; it delayed talking with God or converging with Him to the afterlife. What Sufism means shows itself in its response toward this attitude of procrastination about God. The sharia-truth divergence, which is the first serious dissociation where this response manifested, consists of conveying to the world the relationship with the God who we will meet in the afterlife. This attitude about God has also fundamentally changed the conceptualization of prophethood and human beings. Giving more attention to the personage of the Prophet rather than the Sunnah is a matter related to Sufism’s view of guardianship. Thus, God, the truth of the prophet (although this term belongs to the 7th century AD), and the guardianship of humans has become the founding concepts of Sufism. This article contains an assessment of this course of Sufism’s development and recommends every research on Sufism today to consider this trio of concepts.
Keywords: Abu Hashim al-Sufi, Abu Nasr al-Sarraj, al-Junayd al-Baghdadi, antinomianism, problem of legitimacy, renunciaton, Science of religion, sharia and truth, Sufism, Sunnah, Sunni Sufism