What is Soul
Dust and clay, which in Arabic are called turāb and ṭīn respectively, signify two ranks of mu’mins. One is the rank of belief (ʿaqīdah) or faith (īmān) of an elementary nature, which has essential importance for the people of daʿwat –which is exemplified by dust. The other is that of the faith with some knowledge, which is exemplified by clay. Thus the ta’wīl of Ḥaz̤rat-i ʿĪsā making a bird’s figure from clay, is that he used to appoint a mu’min with faith and some knowledge to the rank of ma’zūn, at which time the latter was nothing but a silent figure of that rank. However, when Ḥaz̤rat-i ʿĪsā breathed something into this figure it used to become a bird by God’s permission. This means that, step by step, Ḥaz̤rat-i ʿĪsā was breathing the soul of knowledge of ta’yīd (spiritual help) into this ma’zūn and he was becoming a spiritual bird, i.e., a soul or an angel. The holy Prophet had given Mawlā ʿAlī the title of Abū Turāb (the father of dust). The ta’wīl of this title is that after the holy Prophet , Mawlā ʿAlī was the spiritual father of the faithful men and women, for dust means the people of faith as mentioned above.
This excerpt has been taken from page 75