Talhah ibn `Ubaydullah

“No, stick to your position,” replied the Prophet. A man from the Ansar volunteered and the Prophet agreed. He fought until he was killed. The Prophet 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 ordered him to maintain his position. Another person immediately came forward, fought and was killed. This happened until all who stood by the Prophet were martyred except Talhah.

“Now, yes,” signalled the Prophet 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. 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 occasion Abu Bakr said:

“At that moment, Abu Ubayd ibn al-Jarrah and I were far from the Prophet. When we came close to him to render assistance to him, the Prophet said: ‘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, peace be on him, 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 `Ubaydallah.”

And, whenever Uhud was recalled, As-Siddiq, may God be pleased with him, 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 innumerabIe 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 Hadramawt, 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 Kulthum the daughter of Abu Bakr, 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 Kulthum. “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 marvellous, the daughter of a marvellous 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 is 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 was well-known for helping persons who had debt problems, heads of families who experienced hardship, and widows. One of his friends, as-Saib ibn Zayd, said of him: “I accompanied Talhah ibn `Ubaydallah 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, peace be on him.

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.

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