This is a series of letters between Hazrat Sheikh Zakariyya (rahmatullah alahi) & Hazrat Ml Ashraf Ali Thanwy (rahmatullah alahi). Extracted from Aap Beti, Vol 4/5
The actual talbeena recipe is given at the end of the article.
To Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwy.
I hereby wish to present a little gift. In the Hadith, there is mention of a certain thing called talbeena, which Mullah Ali Qari says is made up of milk, honey and flour, and I have added a little saffron for flavour and taste. Once, some time ago, I prepared it and it turned out to be very delicious and I got the feeling that perhaps Hazrat will also like it. Only Allah knows how it has turned out this time, but I have again mixed the same ingredients.
In Bukhari it is reported from Hazrat Aisha Radhiallahu Anhaa who says: "I have heard Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam say: "Verily talbeena cures the heart of the sick one and takes away his sorrows'." According to Bukhari, she ordered that talbeena be taken and that it is a beneficial medicine. Hafiz Ibn Hajar says in 'Fath ', it is reported by Ahmed and Ibn Majah that Aisha Radhiallahu Anhaa reported "Make use of talbeena, the beneficial medicine," And Nisai adds: "I swear by Him in whose hands is the life of Muhammad, that talbeena cleans the stomach in the same Way as any of you uses water to wash dust from his face."
According to the Hadith it appears that it is prepared in a thin form but I thought Hazrat will prefer it in a thick form so as to eat it like firny. For this reason I have made it a thick mixture. I have also written its contents down for Hakeem Khaleel Ahmed Saheb and asked him about it, so as to ascertain that it will not be harmful to Hazrat's diet.
My beloved friend Assalaamu Alaykum.
Who is so fortunate as to receive such a blessed present. Because of your love you have not been very clever as was the demand of your love. Your reason should have told you that you should have not informed me what it was. When I expressed liking for it, then you should have told me what it was. Now I am worried that if I do not use it, it will be tantamount to turning away from the Sunnat. How will one accept it that after eating it, you find yourself not liking it. Both these things will boil down to bad manners. Now I am putting this aside until such time that you get me out of this difficulty.
To Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali
It was very good that Hazrat had drawn my attention to a criticism to what I wrote, and to which my mind did not go to at the time. However these kind of objections always come along regarding some such things. But through Hazrat's blessings, Insha-Allah, I will be guided to the correct answer and in this regard I am putting my defective opinion before Hazrat for rectification. Should there be any better answer, I would appreciate to hear of it very much. There are a few things on my mind.
a) In some versions of the Hadith the wording mentions the term 'bagheedun naafi' (disliked beneficial thing) from which there is clear reference to dislike for the mixture.
b) In my letter, I have myself made mention of the fact that Allah alone knows how the mixture turned out. From this, my aim was to show that this is not necessarily the very same mixture as is mentioned in the Hadith, and that differences in the mixing and amounts creates difference in its taste etc. Therefore having no liking for the mixture does not necessarily mean dislike for the actual talbeena. We have time and again seen that various cooks will cook the same amount of food with the same spices, while the taste of the curry of one differs very much from what another cooks. The ones curry will be more delicious. Moreover, where will we today find cooks for talbeena like the lady Sahabis? My wife has always tried very hard to cook curry like Hafiz Yakoob Gangohi's mother, but she was never able to do so.
Answer No. 2 was not in my mind, although answer No 1 had been in my mind. Because of my weakness of mind, I did not acquire a restoration to health, Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wnsallam had the right to call it bagheed (disliked), but the servants of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam do not have the courage to say such a thing.
As far as answers No 2 is concerned, after having pondered over the facts mentioned, this decision was reached that your research and deep thought is the result of the work of people with deep insight whereas the problem I posed is the result of the work of him who is weakened and whose views are shortsighted.
"And I am of those who are weak, Perhaps I will become stronger later.' (Arabic poem),
"Hasbunallahu wa nee'mal Wakeel"
"Sufficient for me is Allah and what a great Protector"
The actual story has already been told by me. Hazrat kept the talbeena at the arrival of the first letter and never sent it back even after the second letter, but I cannot, even after questioning, say whether he ate it or not. I recall that an attendant of his assured me that he did indeed eat it. However this report is not confirmed.
The attentions of Hazrat Thanwy to me has been on the increase ever since the time I came to Saharanpur as a boy of twelve, when Hazrat often used to visit Hazrat Maulana Khaleel Ahmed Saheb. My father had a very close and friendly relationship with him and so informal was his relationship with Hazrat Thanwy that I as a child was quite surprised. They were of about equal age and contemporaries. Whereas my father used to treat Hazrat Saharanpuri with a great deal of respect and honour because after the death of Hazrat Gangohi, my father turned to him a lot for spiritual instruction. My father became Hazrat Saharanpuri's mureed and later received 'Ijaazat for Bay'at' from him, for this reason also he had great respect for him.
1. 1 cup of milk
2. 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of barley flour. (In Durban, South Africa you can get it from Chohan's. It is known as crushed barley)
3. Honey to sweeten
1. Put the milk in a pot on med heat and throw in the barley flour. Use the finer particles of the flour.
2. Cook for about 10-15 minutes. Constantly stir to avoid lumpiness.
3. The mixture will thicken a bit.
4. Sweeten with honey and serve.
5. Make intention of acting upon a Sunnat.