Holy name; Abu Turab – its explanation:
The verbal meaning of ‘Abu Turab’ is ‘Father of Earth’ (Mitti ka Baap). In all the four elements, only the earth is such an element that absorbs the element of light. Rest of the elements does not have this attribute. It can be tested. Let us take the example of water. If a light is thrown through the raining water, it will pass through it because water does not have the power of absorption of light. In the same way, neither fire nor air can absorb light. It is seen that in all the elements, water, fire and air do not have the capacity to absorb light. Now, only the earth is left that absorbs the light.
In short, in all the elements, it is only the earth that absorbs light into it. It is because of this that Allah’s Caliph, Hazrat Adam AlahisSalam was made of clay, for, the existence of Allah’s Caliph, should be competent enough to bear the Divine Light. It should have this capacity because then only Allah’s Divine Light can be received by it. It should have the capacity of absorption.
Thus, the peculiarity and unique attribute of clay should be understood properly; that it has the ability to absorb light. That’s why Allah’s Auliya (plural of Vali-a person very near to Allah and knows the secret of spiritual life) are humble and mild like clay. Their hearts are filled with divine light. Saiyedna Hazrat Ali AlaihisSalam was the great spiritual father and Imam (one who leads the prayer) of such noble and pious people. It is for this that Huzur ﷺ had addressed him as Abu Turab. Turab does mean clay or earth, but here the meaning implied is not that. The implication is that he has the qualities and attributes like those of clay, i.e humble, mild etc. It indicates that Hazrat Ali AlaihisSalam was so modest and honest-to-goodness. Hazrat Ali AlaihisSalam though was the spiritual father of all the believers and people of the righteous path. Without his support and nearness, none could achieve the highest stage (manzil) in Sufi practices. The logical explanation has already been given of this through wide discussions in the Hadith-i Saklain. The explanation given above is not the contribution of the writer of this book, but it has been quoted from Hazrat Mujaddid Sarhindi’s spiritual master, a perfect saint (Vali-e-Kamil), a very learned person (Arif-eAkamal) Hazrat Khawaja Muhammad Baqi Billah’s literature. The pioneer of the time, Shaikh Abdul Haq Mohaddith-e-Dehlvi , in his very basic book “Sharah Safrus-s-sa’ada” has discussed this point at a great length. Hazrat Baqi Billah’s thoughts also have been quoted. The whole discussion is worth reading. First of all, Hazrat Shaikh has written its Persian translation, wherein, he has stated, when, Hazrat Ali AlaihisSalam was honoured with the title “Abu Turab.” While translating this Hadith, we keep before us the interpretation given by Muslim. Hazrat Sahal Bin Sa’ad has described in Sahih Muslim, “Once, Rasulallah ﷺ came to Hazrat Fatima AlahisSalam house. Hazrat Ali AlaihisSalam was not present there. He said, ‘Where is your Ibn-i-Amm (Hazrat Ali AlaihisSalam)?’ She said, ‘On a particular point, there was a difference of opinion between us, which made me sorry. On this, he left the house, even without having his usual afternoon nap.’ Now, Rasulallah ﷺ told a man ‘See, where Ali .’ The man returned and said, ‘O’Rasulallah ﷺ he is sleeping in the mosque.’ Rasulallah ﷺ came to Hazrat Ali AlaihisSalam in the mosque and saw that he was sleeping by the side. The sheet covering him was displaced and his back was dusted. While cleaning the dust, Huzur ﷺ said, “Abu Turab, wake up! Abu Turab, get up!’
Hazrat Mohaddith Dehlvi says, “Hazrat Ali AlaihisSalam enemies and opponents used to address him as Abu Turab with a view to insulting him. But, in fact, these words indicated great honour and respect. Many researchers of the path have interpreted this as a symbol for a deep secret of spiritualism. The secrets of Sufi practices are indicated by this, which provide strong support of Hazrat Ali AlaihisSalam having a very high state of spiritualism and the realization of the self.”
The word “Turab’ for him implies his love for the unity and annihilation of Allah. Therefore, finally, from the above points, the meaning of word“Turab’ that was derived shows that Hazrat Ali AlaihisSalam was the spiritual leader, master and Imam of the contented, ready for sacrifice and the unique people of the path. This makes him the last loop of all the Sufi traditions of Spiritual Masters-Traditions. (Mashaikh-i-Tariqat)