Friday, November 2, 2007

Talhah Ibn Ubaidullah

Talhah Ibn Ubaidullah

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-ā’lamīn. There is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger.

Talhah Ibn Ubaidullah, (radiallāhu`anhu) upon arriving back hastily in Makkah after a trading trip from Syria, he asked his family: "What had happened in Makkah since we left?" They replied:"Yes," "Muhammad ibn Abdullah emerged claiming that he is a Prophet and Abu Quhafah (Abu Bakar) has followed him." "I used to know Abu Bakar," said Talhah (radiallāhu`anhu). "He is an easy-going, amiable, gentle man. He was an honest and upright trader. We were quite fond of him and loved sitting in his company because of his knowledge of Quraish history and lineage."

Talhah Ibn Ubaidullah, (radiallāhu`anhu)  went to see Abu Bakar As-Siddiq
(radiallāhu`anhu) and asked: "Is it true what they say, that Muhammad ibn Abdullah has appeared as a Prophet and that you follow him." "Yes," replied Abu Bakar and went on to tell Talhah about Muhammad and what a good thing it would be if he too followed him.

Talhah in turn told Abu Bakar the story of his strange recent encounter with an ascetic in the market-place of Basrah in Syria. The ascetic is said to have told Talhah that someone called "Ahmad" would appear in Makkah about that time and that he would be the last of the Prophets. He also told Talhah, so the story goes that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) would leave the sacred precincts of Makkah and migrates to a land of black soil, water and palm trees.

Abu Bakar was astonished by the story and took Talhah
(radiallāhu`anhu) to Muhammad. The Prophet, (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), explained Islam to Talhah and recited some portions of the Quran to him. Talhah was enthusiastic. He related to the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) his conversation with the ascetic of Basrah. There and then, Talhah Ibn Ubaidullah, (radiallāhu`anhu) pronounced the Shahādah - that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. He was the fourth person who had been introduced to Islam by Abu Bakar.

The Quraish were astounded by the young Talhah's acceptance of Islam. The one who was most dismayed and unhappy was his mother. She had hoped that he would one day be a leader in his community because of his noble character and his outstanding virtues. Some of the Quraish, anxious and worried, went to Talhah as soon as they could to wean him away from his new religion but found him firm and unshakable as a rock. When they despaired of using gentle persuasion to achieve their aim, they resorted to persecution and violence. The following story is related by Mas’ud ibn Kharash:

"While I was performing Saie between as-Safa and al-Marwah, there appeared a crowd of people pushing a young man whose hands were tied behind his back. As they rushed behind him, they rained down blows on his head. In the crowd was an old woman who lashed him repeatedly and shouted abuses at him. I asked: 'What's the matter with this young man?' ‘This is Talhah ibn Ubaidullah. He gave up his religion and now follows the Banu Hashim man.' 'And who is the woman behind him?' I asked. 'She is As-Sabah Binti Al-Hadrami, the young man's mother,' they said.

The Quraish did not stop there. Nawfal Ibn Khuwailid nicknamed the 'Lion of the Quraish" bound Talhah with a rope and with the same rope he tied up Abu Bakar As-Siddiq and then handed them over to the mindless and violent mob of Makkah to be beaten and tortured. The shared experience no doubt drew Talhah and Abu Bakar closer together.

Years passed and events of great significance took place. Talhah Ibn Ubaidullah grew in stature as he bore the pain and suffering of being tested in the path of God and His Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam). He gained the unique reputation among Muslims of being called the "Living Martyr". The Prophet, (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), also called him "Talhah the Good" and "Talhah the Generous".

The name of the "Living Martyr" was earned during the Battle of Uhud. Talhah Ibn Ubaidullah had missed the Battle of Badar. He and Said Ibn Zayd had been sent outside Madinah on a mission by the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) and when they returned, the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) and his companions were already on the way back from Badar. They were both sad at having missed the opportunity of taking part in the first campaign with the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam)  but were tremendously pleased when he told them they would get the same reward as those who actually fought. At the Battle of Uhud, when the Muslims fell into disarray at the beginning of hostilities the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) became dangerously exposed. There were about eleven men of the Ansar at his side and one Muhajir - Talhah Ibn Ubaidullah. The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) clambered up the mountain hotly pursued by some mushrikin. The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) shouted:

"The one who repulses these people from us will be my companion in Paradise." "Yes, O Messenger of god," shouted Talhah. "No, stick to your position," replied the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam). A man from the Ansar volunteered and the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) agreed. He fought until he was killed. The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) went further up the mountain with the mushrikin still in close pursuit. "Isn't there someone to combat these?" Talhah again volunteered but the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) ordered him to maintain his position. Another person immediately came forward, fought and was killed. This happened until all who stood by the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) were martyred except Talhah. "Now, yes," signaled the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) and Talhah went into battle. By this time, the Prophet's teeth had been broken, his forehead had been slashed, his lips had been wounded and blood was streaming down his face. He was drained of energy. Talhah plunged into the enemy and pushed them away from the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam). He turned back to the Prophet and helped him a little further up the mountain and put him to lie on the ground. He then renewed his attack and successfully repulsed the enemy. About this particular occasion Abu Bakar As-Siddiq said:

"At that moment, Abu Ubaid Ibn Al-Jarrah and Me were far from the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam). When we came close to him to render assistance to him, the Prophet said (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam): 'Leave me and go to your companion (meaning Talhah)." There was Talhah, bleeding profusely. He had numerous wounds, from sword, spear and arrow. His foot had been cut and he had fallen into a hollow where he lay unconscious. Thereafter, the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "Whoever is pleased to see a man still walking on earth who had completed his span (of life), let him look at Talhah ibn Ubaidullah."

And, whenever Uhud was recalled, Abu Bakar As-Siddiq, (radiallāhu`anhu), would say: "That day, that entire day, belonged to Talhah." That was the story of how Talhah became to be called the "Living Martyr". There were innumerable incidents which led to him being called "Talhah the Good" and "Talhah the Generous". Talhah was an astute and successful merchant who travelled widely to the north and south of the Arabian Peninsula. It is said that after one of his trips to Hadramaut, he had profits amounting to some seven hundred thousand dirhams. His nights would be anxious and worried on account of this vast wealth. On one such night, his wife, Umm Kalthum the daughter of Abu Bakar, said to him:

"What's wrong with you, O Father of Muhammad? Perhaps I have done something to hurt you.'?" "No," replied Talhah. "You are a wonderful wife for a Muslim man. But I have been thinking since last night: How can a man think of his Lord and Sustainer when he goes to sleep with this wealth in his house?" "Why should it bother you so much," remarked Umm Kalthum. "What about all the needy ones in your community and all your friends? When you get up in the morning share it out among them." "God bless you. You are really marvelous, the daughter of a marvelous man," said Talhah to his wife. In the morning, Talhah gathered up the money in bags and distributed it among the poor Muhajirin and Ansar.

It was related that a man came up to Talhah requesting help and also mentioning some common family connection between them. "This family connection someone has mentioned to me before," said Talhah who was in fact known for his generosity to all members of his clan. Talhah told the man that he had just sold a piece of land to Uthman Ibn Affan for several thousand dirhams. The man could have the money or the land which could be re-purchased from Uthman. The man opted for the money and Talhah gave it all to him.

Talhah ibn Ubaidullah was well-known for helping persons who had debt problems, heads of families who experienced hardship, and widows. One of his friends, As-Said Ibn Zaid, said of him: "I accompanied Talhah ibn Ubaidullah on journeys and I stayed with him at home and I have not found anyone who was more generous with money, with clothes and with food than Talhah." No wonder he was called "Talhah the Good" and "Talhah the Generous". The name Talhah is also connected with the first fitnah or civil war among Muslims after the death of the Prophet, (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam).

The seeds of trouble were sown during the caliphate of Uthman ibn Affan. There were many complaints and accusations against him. Some mischief-makers were not content with accusations only but were determined to finish him off.

In the year 35 AH (656 CE) a group of insurgents stormed Uthman's house and murdered him while he was reading the Quran. It was one of the most shocking events in the early history of Islam. Ali bin Abi Talib was persuaded to accept the responsibility of the Caliphate and all Muslims swore allegiance to him, including Talhah ibn Ubaidullah and Zubair Ibn Al-Awwam. Talhah and Zubair were deeply shocked by the murder of Uthman. They were horrified and felt strongly that the murderers should be punished and that justice should be done. But the punishment of the murderers was not an easy task in as much as the crime was not just the work of a few individuals but involved a large number of persons.

Talhah and Zubair sought Ali's permission to go to Makkah to perform Umrah. They met Aishah the wife of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam). She was greatly shocked when she heard of the assassination of Uthman. From Makkah, Talhah, Zubair and Aishah set off for Basrah where large numbers were gathering to seek revenge for the death of Uthman. The forces gathered at Basrah seemed to present an open challenge to Ali. As the caliph of the Muslims and the head of the entire Muslim State, he could not tolerate any insurrection or armed revolt against the State. But what a difficult and awesome task he faced! To deal with the revolt, he had to confront his brothers, his companions and his friends-followers of the Prophet and his religion, those who often fought side by side with him against the forces of shirik those whom he respected and loved.

The forces clamoring for vengeance for Uthman and those supporting Ali Ibn Abi Talib
(radiallāhu`anhu) met at a place called Kuraibah, near Basrah. Ali desired to avoid war and settle matters by peaceful means. He used every means at his disposal to achieve peace. He clung to every hope of avoiding confrontation. But the dark forces at work against Islam and how numerous were these, were determined that matters should come to a terrible and bloody end.

Ali Abu Talib
(radiallāhu`anhu)wept. He wept bitterly when he saw Aishah, (radiallāhu`anha) the "Mother of the Believers" in her hawdaj or palanquin astride a camel at the head of the army which now emerged to fight him.
And when he saw Talhah and Zubair(radiallāhu`anhum), two close companions of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), in the midst of the army, he shouted to them to come out to him. They did and Ali Abu Talib said to Talhah: "O Talhah, have you come with the wife of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) to fight along with her...?" And to Zubair he said: "O Zubair, I implore you, by God, do you remember the day when the Prophet, (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), passed by you and we were in such and such a place and he asked you: 'Do you love Ali?' and you said: 'Why shouldn't I love my cousin and one who follows my religion...?'"

Ali Abu Talib continued talking to them reminding them of the bonds of brotherhood and faith. In the end both Talhah and Zubair withdrew from participation in this civil war. They withdrew immediately when they saw the situation in a different light. But they paid for that withdrawal with their lives.

As they withdrew, a man named Amr Ibn Jarmouz followed Zubair and cowardly murdered him while he performed Solat. Talhah was killed by an arrow allegedly shot by Marwan - a cousin of Uthman who was too blinded by rage and the desire to seek revenge for his kinsman to respond to the possibility of avoiding war and bloodshed among Muslims.

The murder of Uthman bin Affan (radiallāhu`anhu) had become Talhah's tryst with destiny. He did not participate in the fighting and killing that followed that came to be known in history as the "Battle of the Camel". Indeed, if he had known that the fitnah would have degenerated into such insane hatred and bitterness and resulted in such a bloody outcome, he would have resisted it. He was not keen to fight Ali. He was simply appalled by the murder of Uthman bin Affan (radiallāhu`anhu) and wanted to see justice done. Before the beginning of the battle he had said in a voice choked with emotion: "O Lord, for the sake of Uthman, takes from me this day until You are pleased."

Then when Ali faced him and Zubair, they saw the correctness of his position and withdrew from the field of battle. Yet, in these difficult circumstances, martyrdom was reserved for them. The Battle of Camel came to an end. Aishah binti Abu Bakar,
(radiallāhu`anha), the mother of the believers, realized that she had precipitated matters and left Basrah for the Sacred Mosque and then to Madinah distancing herself from the conflict. Ali Abu Talib provided well for her journey giving her all the comfort and honor due to her.

When the numerous dead from the battle were brought together, Ali Abu Talib
(radiallāhu`anhu) led the funeral prayer for them all, those who were with him and those who were against him. And when he had finished burying Talhah and Zubair (radiallāhu`anhum) he bade farewell to them with a heavy heart, a heart filled with tenderness and love. "I really hope," Ali Abu Talib said in simple and sublime words, "that Talhah, Az-Zubair, Uthman and I will be among those of whom Allah has said: 'And We shall remove from their hearts any lurking sense of injury and rancor; they will be brothers joyfully facing each other on thrones of dignity.' "(Surah al-Hijr, 15:47)

Then he looked tenderly and sorrowfully on the graves of his brothers in faith and said: "I have heard with these two ears of mine the Messenger of Allah, (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), saying: "Talhah and Az-Zubair are my companions in Paradise!"

And Allah Knows Best


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