Islamic Date

15 Thu al-Hijjah

English Date

24 July

Talha bin Ubaidullah

Talha bin Ubaidullah

The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said about Talha (radi Allahu anhu): "He, who desires to see a martyr walking on the ground, let him look at Talha bin Ubaidullah." [Mishkat, Ibn Hisham]

How Talha Became A Muslim

Talha (radi Allahu anhu) was a member of the esteemed tribe of Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhu). Once while he was on a trading trip to Syria, he encountered an ascetic in the market-place of Busra who told Talha (radi Allahu anhu) that the time had come when a man named "Ahmad" would appear as a Prophet in Makkah. This would be the last Prophet for humankind. Additionally, he would emigrate from Makkah and settle in the land of black soil, palm trees and water.

Talha (radi Allahu anhu) rushed back to Makkah and enquired if anything unusual had happened. He was told that Muhammad bin Abdullah had emerged as a Prophet and that Abu Bakr was his disciple. Talha (radi Allahu anhu) had known Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) as a gentle, amiable man whose company was especially enjoyed because of Abu Bakr's knowledge of Quraish history and genealogy.

Talha then went to Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhuma) and asked if what he had heard regarding his accepting a new religion were true. Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) affirmed it and asked him to accept Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) as a Prophet too. Talha (radi Allahu anhu) then told him about his strange encounter with the ascetic in Syria. Abu Bakr then took Talha (radi Allahu anhuma) to Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) who explained Islam to him and recited some of the Quran for him. Talha (radi Allahu anhu) accepted Islam right then, proclaiming the shahadah: There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Talha (radi Allahu anhu) was thus one of the first few to embrace Islam. He was only 18 at the time and was one of the few literate people in Makkah.

Talha's mother was most dismayed at his acceptance of Islam as she had expected him to be the leader of their clan one day. Masud ibn Kharash narrated: "While I was making saiy between as-Safa and al-Marwa, 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 Talha 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 bint al-Hadrami, the young man's mother,' they said."

Talha (radi Allahu anhu) was tied up, beaten and tortured by his own relatives, as well as the Makkan mob, for his acceptance of Islam. Talha (radi Allahu anhu) also suffered the three year boycott imposed by the Makkans on the Muslims, enclosed in the mountain pass She'b Abi Talib.

Talha In The Battle Of Uhud

Talha bin Ubaidullah (radi Allahu anhu) had missed the Battle of Badr. It had happened unexpectedly while he had been sent on a different mission by the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam). He was upset at having missed such an important event in the defense of Islam. When he returned, the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) and his companions were already on the way back from Badr. But because of his sincerity in Allah's cause, he was given the good news that he would get the same reward as those who had fought.

Talha (radi Allahu anhu) was eager to participate in the Battle of Uhud. So significant was the role played by him, that whenever that day was mentioned, Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) referred to it as 'The day of Talha bin Ubaidullah'. [Hilyat'ul Awliya Wa Tabaqat'ul Asfiya by Imam Abu Naim al-Asfahani]

At one point during the battle of Uhud, the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) had only nine people around him, two Muhajireen and seven Ansar. The idolators had heard Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam)'s voice and recognized him. While he was surrounded by only these nine men, the Kuffar attacked him with all their might. Talha bin Ubaidullah (radi Allahu anhu) was one of the people who was with the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) at this time. In trying to push back the idolators and protect the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) all seven of the Ansar were killed. [Ibn Hisham, quoted in Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum]

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) wore two coats of armour that day. He tried to get up on a boulder, but was not able to, so Talha (radi Allahu anhu) squatted under him, lifting the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) such that he could sit on the boulder. Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) was so pleased with Talha's help that the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) informed Talha (radi Allahu anhu) that Paradise was now obligatory on him. He also pointed towards his back and said, "This is Jibra'il informing me that if he finds you (Talha) in any distress on the Day of Judgement, he will come and relieve you." [Ibn Asakir, Tirmidhi]

The Kuffar focused their attack on the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) and attacked him with sword and by pelting stones. One of the Prophet's teeth broke, his lip was cut, his forehead was cleaved, and two rings of his interlocking iron-ringed helmet penetrated into his cheek. At this time it was Talha bin Ubaidullah and Sad bin Abi Waqqas (radi Allahu anhuma) alone, who protected the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam). They fought so courageously and fiercely that they were able to repel the squad of Kuffar attacking the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam). [Fath al-Bari, quoted in Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum]

Talha bin Ubaidullah (radi Allahu anhu) fought as much as eleven men till he sustained nearly seventy wounds and blows, and his fingers were cut off. As his fingers were struck he said, "Be they struck off!" The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, "If you had said Bismillah (in the name of Allah), the angels would have raised you up (to heaven) before the people's very eyes."

When Abu Bakr and Abi Ubaida al-Jarrah (radi Allahu anhuma) reached Allah's Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) he told them to hurry to their friend, Talha bin Ubaidullah, who was lying wounded in a grove. He had ten sword strokes on his body. The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "See to your brother. He has proved to be worthy of being housed in Paradise." [Zad al-Ma'ad, quoted in Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum]

Abu Bakr and Abi Ubaida al-Jarrah (radi Allahu anhuma) first attended to the Messenger of Allah and then turned their attention to Talha bin Ubaidullah (radi Allahu anhu) who was bleeding profusely. [Hilyat'ul Awliya Wa Tabaqat'ul Asfiya]

One of Talha's hands was paralyzed as a result of having used it as a shield to protect the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) against arrows. [Sahih Bukhari]

"After the battle, when Allah's Messenger returned to Medina, he stood upon the pulpit, praised Allah Almighty and thanked Him for His countless blessings, and he then recited: 'Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah. Some have fulfilled their vows, while others await their end, yielding to no changes.' Someone stood up and said, 'O Messenger of Allah, who are such people?' At that moment, Talha arrived at the Masjid, and he was wearing a green robe under a green cloak. When Allah's Messenger saw him, he said, 'O questioner, here is one of them.'" [Hilyat'ul Awliya Wa Tabaqat'ul Asfiya]

Subhan Allah, here we have a true hero! A man who stood up for what he believed in, with everything he had. It is amazing how a Muslim could even think of an athlete, an actor, or a dancer as a role model, when we have people like Talha bin Ubaidullah (radi Allahu anhu). Don't we ask Allah (subhana wa ta'ala), in surah Fatiha of every salah, to put us on the path of those who pleased him? If the only goal of a Muslim is to please Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) then there is no one else to follow but the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) and his companions (radi Allahu anhum).

Talha's Generosity

Talha bin Ubaidullah (radi Allahu anhu) came to be known as "Talha the Generous" and "Talha the Good" for his generosity. He was well known for helping those in debt, households experiencing difficult times, and widows.

Talha was a successful businessman who traveled to the north and south of the Arabian peninsula and accumulated a lot of profit. It is said that after one of his trips to Hadramawt, he had profits amounting to seven hundred thousand dirhams.

One day Sa'ada (radi Allahu anha), daughter of Awf and wife of Talha (radi Allahu anhuma), went to Talha and found him uneasy. She asked him whether he had perhaps heard something regarding her that was upsetting him. Talha bin Ubaidullah (radi Allahu anhu) replied, "You are the best wife for a Muslim. The source of my anxiety is rather the large fund that has accumulated with me, and I do not know what I should do with it." Sa'ada (radi Allahu anha) narrated: "I said by way of advice, 'Why are you sad about this? Call the people of your community and distribute the amount among them.'" Talha bin Ubaidullah started right away with distributing the amount in charity. [Tabrani, quoted in Hayatus Sahabah] "When the treasurer was asked about the amount thus distributed, he replied, 'It was four hundred thousand in all'." [At-Targhib, quoted in Hayatus Sahabah]

Al-Hassan narrated that Talha (radi Allahu anhuma) once sold a piece of land he owned for seven hundred thousand dirhams. Talha kept the money in his house for a long sleepless night, and at sunrise, he distributed everything in charity. [Hilyat'ul Awliya Wa Tabaqat'ul Asfiya]

One of his friends, Saib ibn Zayd, said of him: "I accompanied Talha 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 Talha."

On another occasion, when Talha bin Ubaidullah (radi Allahu anhu) bought a well near a mountain, he invited people to a feast. Thereupon, the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, "O Talha, you are very bounteous."

One can see in his actions, not just the desire, but real work to gain the pleasure of Allah (subhana wa ta'ala). And this is from a person who was already guaranteed Jannah (Paradise). A lot of us claim to have the desire to please Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) without much to show for it and how many of us are guaranteed Jannah?

In The Panel Of Six

After the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam), Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) took care of the Islamic State, and he nominated Umar ibn al-Khattab (radi Allahu anhu) for this responsibility after him. Like his predecessors, Umar (radi Allahu anhu) used to rule by consulting his Advisory Council at every step. There were three advisory councils, the Higher Advisory Council, The General Advisory Council and one that ranked in between. Talha bin Ubaidullah was one of the permanent members of the Higher Advisory Council. [The Pious Caliphs by Dr Majid Ali Khan]

Before his death Umar (radi Allahu anhu) appointed a panel of six people. These six were Uthman, Ali, Sad bin Abi Waqqas, Talha, Zubair and Abdur Rahman bin Auf (radi Allahu anhum). These six were to decide on the third Khalifah from amongst themselves within a maximum period of three days. After much deliberation, on the morning of the fourth day, finally Abdur Rahman bin Auf gave the decision in favor of Uthman (radi Allahu anhuma), as the overall inclination was towards him. Talha (radi Allahu anhu) was not present in Medina at this time. He returned after people had taken baiat (pledge of loyalty) at the hands of Uthman (radi Allahu anhu). When Talha returned, Uthman (radi Allahu anhuma) requested him to either accept the post of Khalifah (as he was among the six), or to take baiat at his hands acknowledging him as the Khalifah. Talha (radi Allahu anhu) declined to accept the position and took baiat at Uthman's hands, saying: "How can I object to your being the Khalifah when all the Muslims have agreed upon you." [The Pious Caliphs]

An important lesson to learn here is that none of these individuals desired to be the most powerful man in the world: The Khalifah of the Islamic state was the ruler of the most powerful country in the world at that time, a country spread over two continents. We would do well to wonder why. Today, people commit all sorts of evil to achieve positions of power as insignificant as authority over a small neighborhood. The example of the Sahabah shows us what the real focus of these people was. It was the Akhirah (hereafter). They knew that these worldly positions wouldn't do them much good in the long term, on the contrary, it could prolong the Day of Judgement for them with the additional accountability they would have to go through. For a believer, that is the last thing that he/she needs.

When it was asked of Umar (radi Allahu anhu) that he should also consider Abdullah ibn Umar (radi Allahu anhu) for the position of Khalifah, he replied that he did not want two people from his family standing in the same position before Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) on the Day of Judgement. Umar (radi Allahu anhu) did not want his son to also have to go through the accountability that Umar (radi Allahu anhu) knew he would have to go through, having been responsible for so many citizens as the Khalifah. Today, people see power as a means to gain the wealth of this world. What they don't realize is that they will have to pay a very heavy price for this in the Akhirah. But this will only matter to the one who truly believes in the Akhirah, and only such can stay on the right path.

Insurgents Enter Medina

During the khilafah of Uthman (radi Allahu anhu), the fitnah started by Abdullah ibn Saba commenced. Abdullah ibn Saba was a Jew who had converted to Islam. First, he and his followers started a malicious campaign of slander against Uthman (radi Allahu anhu). His governors warned Uthman (radi Allahu anhu) that these were only people interested in an armed rebellion and that action should be taken against them. But Uthman (radi Allahu anhu) was loathe to shed blood for the sake of his own position or life. He did his best to pacify the Sabaites but since their aim was to break up the Islamic State, nothing could please them. After much plotting, they came in contingents from Basra, Egypt and Kufa and encamped near Medina at Dhi-Khashab, Dhi-Murwah and Awas.

They asked in turn Ali, Zubair and Talha (radi Allahu anhum) to accept the Khilafah by overthrowing Uthman (radi Allahu anhu). Each of these Sahabah refused to participate in such a heinous scheme and reminded the insurgents of the words of the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) that the parties of Dhi-Khashab, Dhi-Murwah and Awas are cursed. Finally, the Sabaites entered the house of Uthman from the back and stabbed him while he was reading the Quran. This came as a severe shock to the Muslims. [The Pious Caliphs]

The Issue of The Assassins of Uthman

On the assassination of Uthman, the insurgents pressed Ali (radi Allahu anhuma) to take the position of Khalifah. Ali offered the position to both Talha and Zubair (radi Allahu anhum), but they declined. Under threat of the insurgents Ali (radi Allahu anhu) agreed to become the Khalifah and most of the Muslims in Medina took baiat at his hands. Talha and Zubair (radi Allahu anhuma) and some other prominent Sahabah did not want to take the pledge until the case of Uthman's assassination was decided. But pressed by the insurgents, at the tip of the sword, they took the baiat on the condition that, "You (Ali) have to decide matters according to the Quran and Sunnah and will punish the guilty according to Islamic Law." [The Pious Caliphs]

Since the majority of the Muslims considered Ali (radi Allahu anhu) as most suitable for the position of Khalifah, he was thus the rightful Khalifah of the Muslim Ummah; nobody, not even Muawiya, claimed to be the Khalifah at this time. The differences between Ali and those who did not take the pledge, was over the issue of the punishment of the murderers of Uthman. The appropriateness of Ali (radi Allahu anhu) as the fourth Khalifah of the Muslims was not an issue. [The Pious Caliphs]

In all honesty, avenging the death of Uthman (radi Allahu anhu) was not simple. The Sabaites, under the leadership of Abdullah bin Saba, refused to name or hand over the assassins. Nor did Abdullah bin Saba allow his followers to return home as per the orders of Ali (radi Allahu anhu). Peace could not be restored and it was not possible to properly investigate the murder and determine the culprits. Some of Abdullah ibn Saba's followers meanwhile went to Syria to inflame the Ummayyads (to which clan Uthman belonged) against Ali, for not taking to account the assassins of their relative. [The Pious Caliphs]

Some people also went to Aisha (radi Allahu anha) asking her to avenge the murder of Uthman (radi Allahu anhu). When Talha and Zubair were told by Ali (radi Allahu anhum), that the assassins could not be punished for the time being, they also joined Aisha (radi Allahu anha) at Makkah, where she had gone for Hajj. Together with their supporters they marched to Basra to gather more support, planning to go eventually to Medina and demand punishment of the assassins. [The Pious Caliphs]

Outside Basra, Abdullah bin Saba's famous disciple, Hakim bin Hublah, attacked Aisha, Talha and Zubair's supporters, without the permission of the governor of Basra. A battle ensued in which the forces of the governor of Basra were defeated. Ali (radi Allahu anhu) then proceeded towards Basra. Nearing Basra he sent his cousin Abdullah ibn Abbas and Qaqa bin Amr to assure Aisha, Talha and Zubair (radi Allahu anhum) that he would avenge the murder of Uthman (radi Allahu anhu) as soon as peace was established in the State. Additionally, Ali spoke personally with Talha and Zubair (radi Allahu anhum). A peaceful settlement took place. [The Pious Caliphs]

Talha Is Martyred

Since the plan of Abdullah ibn Saba had always been to break up the Islamic State by pretending to be one of the Muslims, the peaceful settlement was anathema to him. Under the cover of darkness, he and his henchmen attacked the army of Aisha, Talha and Zubair. So these Sahabah thought that Ali (radi Allahu anhu) could not resist shedding Muslim blood. At the same time, the Sabaites in Ali's army informed Ali (radi Allahu anhu) that the other side had attacked them. Ali (radi Allahu anhu) thought that Aisha, Talha and Zubair could not resist shedding Muslim blood. The battle that ensued was an extremely unfortunate end to the peace settlement. [The Pious Caliphs]

Talha (radi Allahu anhu), like the other Sahabah, had been simply appalled by Uthman's murder and had no idea what hatred and bloodshed their campaign for justice would degenerate into. They only desired the murderers of Uthman (radi Allahu anhu) to be brought to justice. Talha (radi Allahu anhu) had prayed when the fighting began, "O Allah, for the sake of Uthman, take from me this day until You are pleased."

During the battle Ali called out to Talha and Zubair (radi Allahu anhum). They came to him and he reminded them of their ties of brotherhood and the words of the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) that, "One day you (two) will fight Ali wrongly." They remembered the saying and seeing the correctness of Ali's position they left the battlefield. But they paid for their withdrawal with their lives. As Talha (radi Allahu anhu) was leaving the battlefield somebody, who did not desire to avoid bloodshed among Muslims, rained arrows on him killing him. [The Pious Caliphs]

Zubair (radi Allahu anhu) was slain by a man, named Amr bin Jarmoz, who had followed him from the battlefield and cowardly murdered him while he was praying in a valley on his return journey to Makkah. When Ali (radi Allahu anhu) heard of his assassination he said, "I have seen him (Zubair) fight for the Prophet of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) several times. I give the murderer the news of Hell-fire." [The Pious Caliphs]

In retrospect, it appears that Talha, Zubair and Aisha (radi Allahu anhum) had not properly assessed the instability of Ali's position as Khalifah, because of which he was not able to identify and punish the assassins of Uthman (radi Allahu anhu). Nevertheless, their intention had never been to shed Muslim blood. Both times battles took place as a result of surprise attacks by Abdullah ibn Saba's men who pretended to be the supporters of Ali (radi Allahu anhu), but were in reality only supporters of shaytan. Moreover, Aisha (radi Allahu anha) mounted her camel (because of which this battle is known as 'Battle of the Camel'), to stop people from fighting, while Talha and Zubair left the battlefield when asked by Ali (radi Allahu anhum) to do so.

When Talha (radi Allahu anhu) was martyred he was 64 years old. Ali (radi Allahu anhu) performed the funeral prayer over Talha, Zubair and all the other Muslims regardless of which side they had fought on. Looking at the graves of Talha and Zubair (radi Allahu anhuma) he cried, and said that he had heard with his own ears the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) say: "Talha and Az-Zubair are my neighbours in Paradise." [Tirmidhi]

"I really hope," he said, "that Talha, 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.'" [Quran 15:47]

Once when the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) was on Mount Hira it shook. The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Be still Hira, for there is no one on you but a Prophet, a Siddiq (true believer) or a shaheed (martyr)." On it were the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam), Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali, Talha, Az-Zubair and Sad bin Abi Waqas (radi Allahu anhum). [Sahih Muslim]

On one occasion the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) named ten fortunate Sahabah and gave them the good news of their being in Paradise. One of them was Talha bin Ubaidullah (radi Allahu anhu). During their lives they were told of their victorious end, that they passed the exam of life.