Who was Abu Talha (may Allah be pleased with him)?

The Inspiring Companions Series

It was narrated from Abdullah bin Abi Talha, from his father, that:

The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) came one day with a cheerful expression on his face, and we said: ‘We see you looking cheerful’. He said: ‘The Angel Jibril came to me and said: ‘O Muhammad, your Lord says: ‘Will it not please you (to know) that no one will send salah upon you that Allah will send salah upon him tenfold, and no one will send salams upon you but I will send salams upon him tenfold?’‘ (Nasa’i)

Imam Ahmad narrated in his Musnad said that Abdul Rahman bin Auf said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) went out one day and entered a garden which was full of palm trees and then made sujood and remained in sujood for such a long time, that he thought the Prophet (peace be on him) must have passed away (peace be upon him). He went to him (peace be upon him) looked at him and checked to see if he was alive, then the Prophet (peace be on him) raised his head and asked ‘What’s wrong with you?’ So he mentioned to him that he was afraid that during his prolonged sujood he had passed away (peace be upon him).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) told him, ‘Jibril came to me (may Allah be pleased with him) and he said:

I’ll give you the good news Allah the Almighty says He said to you, ‘Whoever sends his salah upon him I will send salah upon him and whoever sends salams upon you I will send salams upon him.’ (Musnad Ahmad)

Abu Talha (may Allah be pleased with him)

The narrator of the hadith, is known by everyone by his kunya (nickname) and he was an Ansari from the Khazraj tribe. Most people do not know that his real name was Zaid bin Sahl.

Abu Talha’s biography is very beautiful and very useful to read. Firstly, it shows that he was a very courageous person; secondly he was a very generous person, and thirdly he was a very dedicated worshipper of Allah Almighty.

His story started very early, before the Prophet (peace be upon him) migrated to Madinah. He’s from Madinah, as I told you, from al Khazrajī Ansari from al Ansar, because we have amongst the Arab tribes al Aws and al Khazraj, two Arab tribes in Madinah. So he was not a yet a Muslim before the Prophet (peace be upon him) migrated.

The marriage of Abu Talha

Umm Sulaym bint Milhan, the mother of Anas, was one of the very respected, honoured and beautiful wives in Madinah. When her husband passed away, Abu Talha proposed to her as he liked her. She said, ‘No one can refuse you Abu Talha. You are a very good man, with good manners, good reputation, and from good tribe, but there’s only one thing you lack.’ He said, ‘What is it? Do you want gold, silver, tell me. What is it?’ She said, ‘No I’m not after gold or silver; you are not a Muslim. I cannot marry you. And be witness I’m not into gold and silver. If you were to embrace Islam, my mahr will be your Islam’. And he said, ‘I know nothing; I don’t know anything about Islam. Who will teach me?’ She said, ‘I will teach you’. And she took him through what he was worshipping. In his house, he had an idol made of wood and she said, people burn wood, people use it for different things how can you worship this kind of thing and she went through many such proofs for him and he embraced Islam, and married her, and his Islam was MashaAllah, amazing.

Early Muslim

Abu Talha was amongst the early Muslims who gave a pledge (bay’a) to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in Makkah when a delegation came to perform hajj, it was known as the bay’atul AlAqabah and Abu Talha was one of the twelve people who gave bay’a to the Prophet (peace be upon him).

The garden of Abu Talha

One of the well known facts about Abu Talha was that he owned Bairuha, the most beautiful and the best garden in Madinah. It had the best shade, the best palm trees and best water and he loved it and was so proud of it. From time to time the Prophet (peace be upon him) would go there with his companions for a picnic, as it was near the mosque, in a prime location.

What was Special about Him?

When the ayah on birr was revealed, in Surat al Imran:

You will not achieve a level of birr (righteousness and goodness), until you spend from things, which you love.(3:92)

Abu Talha got up and, going to Allah’s Messenger (), said: Allah says in His Book: “You will never attain righteousness till you give freely of what you love,” and the dearest of my property is Bairaha’ so I give it as Sadaqa to God from Whom I hope for reward for it and the treasure with Allah; so spend it, Messenger of Allah, on whatever purpose you deem it proper.

The Messenger of Allah () said: Bakhin bakhin, Well done! that is a profitable deal, that is a profitable deal. I have heard what you have said, but I think you should spend it on your nearest relatives.

So Abu Talha distributed it among the nearest relatives and his cousins on his father’s side. (Bukhari and Muslim).

The blessed dinner party

This is one of the most famous stories about Abu Talha, on whom we could spend our whole session.

The second thing, was that one day he said to Umm Sulaym, “I have just been listening to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and his voice was very weak. I recognised hunger in it, so, do you have anything?” She replied, “Yes,” and brought out some barley loaves. She took her long head scarf and wrapped up the bread with part of it and put it into my (Anas’s) hand and gave me part of it to wear. Then she sent me to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.”

Anas continued, “I took it, and I found the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, sitting in the mosque with some people. I watched them. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Did Abu Talha send you?’ I replied, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘For food?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to those with him, ‘Let us go.’ He set off and I went among them until I came to Abu Talha and told him. Abu Talha said, ‘Umm Sulaym! The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has brought people and we have no food. What shall we give them to eat?’ She said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ “

Anas continued, “Abu Talha went out and met the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, approached with Abu Talha until they entered. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Come now, Umm Sulaym, what have you got?’ She brought out bread. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, ordered it to be broken into pieces, and Umm Sulaym squeezed out onto it a container of clarified butter which she had seasoned. Then the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said whatever Allah wished him to say, and said, ‘Will you give permission for ten of them to come in?’ He gave them permission, and they ate until they were full and then left. He said, ‘Give permission to ten more.’ He gave them permission, and they ate until they were full and left. Then he said, ‘Give permission to ten more.’ He gave them permission and they ate until they were full and left. Then he said, ‘Give permission to ten more.’ He gave permission and they ate until they were full and left. There were seventy or eighty men.”

(Bukhari).

The piety of Abu Talha

Abu Talha (may Allah be pleased with him) was a very dedicated worshipper, who used to fast a lot, pray a great deal, pray tahajjud and was courageous on the battlefield. In one battle he probably killed around 20 – 27 people, which is not a very easy thing to do, as normally one might barely manage to kill one or two in a battle.

The wild pigeon

On another occasion Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr related that Abu Talha al- Ansari was praying in his garden when a wild pigeon flew in and began to fly to and fro trying to find a way out. The sight was pleasing to him and he let his eyes follow the bird for a time and then he went back to his prayer but could not remember how much he had prayed. He said,

A trial has befallen me in this property of mine.

So he came to the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) and mentioned the trial that had happened to him in his garden and said,

Messenger of Allah, it is a sadaqa for Allah, so dispose of it wherever you wish. (Muwatta’ Malik)

This was another one of his gardens and shows how much he valued his connection with Allah Almighty over and above his love for any of the extensive wealth that Allah had bestowed upon him.

Delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim June 2020.

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001.His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College).He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.