There is much discussion about the orgin of the word Sufi and about wether or not it was used in the time of the best three generations.
Inshallah in this article both the above discussion pointswill be answered inshallah.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, “The word al-soofiyyah (Sufism) refers to wearing woollen clothes; this is the correct meaning. It was said that it comes from the wordsafwat al-fuqaha’ (the elite of the fuqaha’) or from Soofah ibn Add ibn Taanijah, an Arab tribe that was known for its asceticism, or from Ahl al-Suffah (poor Muslims in Madeenah at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) who used to stay in the mosque), or from al-Safa (the mountain in Makkah), or from the wordal-safwah (meaning elite), or from the phrase al-saff al-muqaddam bayna yaday Allaah (the foremost rank before Allaah). All of these views are weak (da’eef); if any of them were true then the word would be saffi or safaa’i or safawi, not sufi.”
Ref: Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 11/195
Also Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) has said, “With regard to the word soofiyyah (Sufism), it was not known during the first three generations, rather it became known after that.”
Ref: Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 11/5
Posted by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie