By KAMRAN SHAHID ANSARI
Talha Ibn Obaidullah was one of the early reverts to Islam and among the ten blessed with the glad tidings of Paradise by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be to him). He was a wealthy businessman and used to travel to different places for trade and commerce. It was during one of his trips to Syria that he met a Christian monk who informed him about the coming of the last prophet, who according to the scriptures, would appear in the land of Arabia. The news was interesting for Talha and soon after his return to Makkah he realised that the story told by the monk was going to affect his life as on his return he learnt that Muhammad Ibn Abdullah had started claiming himself as a Prophet and Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was by his side. He was so sure of the character and honesty of both, the Messenger of Allah and Abu Bakr, that after having analysed the whole situation he said to himself, “These two people can never be partners in anything wrong or false.” He immediately went to Abu Bakr to enquire about the veracity of the claims and then Abu Bakr took him to the Messenger of Allah, where he declared his faith and said the Shahadah.
The road ahead for Talha after his reversion to Islam was replete with hurdles, obstacles, persecution and violence. The Quraish were surprised and furious over his reversion and tried every possible way to make him turn back from the religion of Islam. The strongest resistance Talha faced was from his own mother who went totally berserk after learning his son’s reversion as she had hoped that he would one day become the leader of the community because of his excellent and outstanding qualities and virtues.
Masud Ibn Kharash witnessed the sorry state of Talha and the brutal persecution he met with at the hands of Makkans and by his own mother. He reported that one day he was making saee (running) between Safa and Marwa and then there appeared a crowd pushing and shoving a young man with his hands tied at the back. There was an old woman in the crowd who lashed the young man repeatedly and hurled abuses at him. On being enquired it was known that the young man was Talha, the old woman was his mother and such inhumane treatment was because of the choice he made by accepting the religion that Muhammad brought. However all the disturbing and bone-chilling torture meted out to Talha made him even more resolute and stronger in his faith and made the Makkans utterly failed in their attempt (The story of Talha has a question for all of us: are we willing to endure everything with a brave heart and sublime faith when faced with the same situation?). Even the love for his own mother could not deviate and deter him from following the truth. With the passage of time, the relentless persecution became intensified and finally when it became extremely difficult to endure, Talha migrated to Abyssinia.
Talha was extremely generous and always looked for the ways to please Allah. It was on the unlimited generosity of Talha that the Messenger of Allah gave him the title of “Talha of goodness and bounty” and “Talha of generosity.” He used to support financially many of his relatives and friends and gave generously to the poor and destitute who cannot fend for themselves. Besides helping, he even disencumbered many with the loans they have incurred and released people from the shackles of debt. He even arranged for those who could not find the means to get married. Wealth which generally is a sense of satisfaction, boast and pride for many was more of a cause of distress for Talha. His wife narrated that one day he looked very disturbed and distressed. On being asked he replied that his riches and wealth is the cause of distress and said, “How can a man think of his Lord and Sustainer when he goes to sleep with his wealth in his house?” His wife advised him to distribute and donate all his wealth to all the needy and the destitute. By midnight he distributed everything he had and finally slept well with a light heart. One of the companions of the Messenger said, “I accompanied Talha Ibn Obaidullah on journeys and stayed with him at home and I have not found anyone who was more generous with money, with clothes and with food than Talha.”
Because he was sent for one of the missions outside Madina, Talha missed the first battle fought for Islam, the Battle of Badr. On his return to Madina he became upset with the opportunity he missed to fight alongside the Messenger of Allah. However when he got the chance to partake in the second battle, the Battle of Uhud, he fought valiantly and proved his mettle in the battlefield as well. At Uhud, when the tables were turned against the Muslims and the Messenger of Allah was dangerously exposed, it was Talha who came for the rescue of the Messenger and repelled the Makkan fighters by fighting bravely. He supported and shielded the Messenger with his left arm and valiantly wielded the sword by his right hand. The incident caused Talha more than seventy wounds over his body which eventually made him unconscious. Thereafter the Messenger of Allah said, “Whoever is pleased to see a man still walking on earth who had completed his span (of life), let him look at Talha Ibn Obaidullah.” Abu Bakr was very much pleased with the heroics Talha displayed at the Battle of Uhud and whenever after that there was a mention of Uhud, Abu Bakr used to say, “That day, that entire day, belonged to Talha.”
Talha was a man of rationale and wisdom. He was not someone who could be easily swayed away by partial truths and lies and had the courage to accept his mistakes, even publicly. It happened during the “Battle of Camel,” when Talha, believing on rumours, moved the army to fight against the then caliph Ali (may Allah be pleased with him). However when Ali talked to him and cleared his doubts, he immediately changed his mind and without giving a second thought and caring about the fierce response of the people on reverting from his own decision, he decided to leave the battlefield without fighting, which eventually led him to his assassination.