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In the days of the Blessed Prophet Muhammad [s], there lived a man called Abu Talhah [r].

Abu Talhah [r] thought himself to be the luckiest man in all Madinah, and everyone agreed with him, because he owned a very beautiful garden.

What made his garden more precious than anyone else’s was a spring of cool, clear water which kept everything green and beautiful.

Nothing was more pleasant and more satisfying to Abu Talhah [r] than to do the Zuhr, afternoon prayer, in his beautiful garden, with the date palms swaying in the breeze and the gurgle of the nearby spring.

For this reason he very much liked to pray in the garden and never failed to praise Allah for all the good which He had bestowed upon him.

Now, one sleepy afternoon, Abu Talhah [r] tucked his musalla, his prayer mat, under his arm as usual and made his way to the garden.

Humbly, he stood, raised his hands and said, “Allahu Akbar!”. He was just beginning to recite the Qur’an when another sound, besides the familiar swoosh of the palm trees and the gurgle of the stream, met his ear.

A long high tweet resounded above his head followed by such a happy sounding chirp that Abu Talhah’s [r] eyes popped open in spite of himself.

There, perched on the date palm, was the most beautiful bird in the whole wide world. Its wings were as green as emeralds, its tail feathers as red as pomegranate seeds and it had a little golden head with a black beak that sang its beautiful song to its heart’s content.

Abu Talhah [r] was fascinated. He stared and stared until he suddenly remembered where he was and what he was supposed to be doing. Ashamed of himself, he dutifully went back to the salah, starting hopefully where he had left off.

When he had finished, the bird had flown away.

Now this little bird considered itself to be as lucky as Abu Talhah [r]. Here was a gorgeous garden with sweet seeds to peck at and a bubbly stream. What better place to build a nest and settle down for the rest of its life!

The next day Abu Talhah [r] appeared again at his favorite spot in the garden under the shade of the palm tree, and began the salah. But he failed to notice that the beautiful bird was building a nest on top of the tree.

Soon the bird began to sing and whistle so beautifully that Abu Talhah [r] lost track of what he was doing. He feasted his eyes on the feathered beauty who was hopping from branch to branch chirping a friendly song.

“But what am I doing?”, he asked himself suddenly, “Which part of the salah was I performing?”

Abu Talhah [r] heaved a deep sigh, somehow finished the salah, rolled up his musalla and left the garden.

How could the salah reach Allah if he himself could not remember where he had left off? How could he remember Allah when his heart was full of beautiful gardens, bubbling streams and bird songs?

It was hopeless to try.

Abu Talhah [r] was a pious man. He knew how important it was for a good Muslim to perform the salah, paying attention to none but Allah.

That very night he went to visit Nabi Muhammad [s]. He told the Blessed Prophet all about his garden, the date palms, the gurgling stream and the beautiful bird.

“Oh Prophet,” he said, “I cannot let these things stand in the way of my worship to Allah. So it is better not to have them at all. Please take my garden with all that is in it. I give it to you to use for all the Muslims of Madinah.”

The Holy Prophet Muhammad [s] graciously accepted this gift.

Abu Talhah [r] was never again distracted from the salah, and from that day on, all his Prayers were accepted by Allah.