The Nomination at Ghadeer Khum.
After his final Haj, the Holy
Prophet (P.B.U.H.) received a command from Allah to inform the people of the
succession of Imam Ali (a.s.). At a place called Ghadeer Khum, the Holy Prophet
(P.B.U.H.) gave a speech in which he summarised his entire mission. At the end
of it he said, "O people, for whomever I am the Master, this Ali is also his
Master." There is no doubt that everyone present understood the message although
many did not follow it in their greed for power and their jealousy of Imam Ali
- The Martyrdom of Imam Ali (a.s.)
After Imam Ali (a.s.) became the
Caliph of the Muslims, he had to fight many battles. The last of these was the
Battle of Nahrawan, against the Kharjites. These were the people who had
deserted Imam Ali (a.s.) because they thought he had been too lenient with Muawiya
at Siffin. After their defeat they went to Makkah, where they plotted the
assassination of Imam Ali (a.s.), Muawiya and Amr al-Aas. Amr was Muawiya's close
advisor and his governor in Egypt and they feared that he would claim the
Caliphate after the death of Muawiya. By these murders the Kharjites thought
that they could bring order to the Muslim empire. Accordingly, Abdur Rahman ibne
Muljam agreed to kill Imam Ali (a.s.), Burak bin Abdallah Tymi to kill Muawiya and
Amr bin Bakr Tymi to kill Amr al-Aas.
The morning of Friday the 19th of Ramadhan was fixed for the execution. The
three assassins poisoned their swords and set off towards Kufa, Damascus and
Egypt. The man sent to Egypt was killed before he could approach Amr al-Aas. The
second man, Burak, reached Damascus and actually struck at Muawiya but missed,
and was killed before he could do him any harm. However, the man sent to kill
Imam Ali (a.s.) reached Kufa safely and stationed himself in the mosque of Kufa on
the night of the 19th of Mahe Ramadhan.
On the morning of the 19th of Ramadhan, Imam Ali (a.s.) went to the mosque of
Kufa and began to wake up all the people sleeping there. Ibne Muljam was lying
on his stomach so as to hide the sword, and Imam Ali (a.s.) woke him up as well,
telling him not to sleep on his stomach as that was the way of Shaitan.
After giving the Adhaan, Imam Ali (a.s.) led the prayer and Ibne Muljam,
pretending to pray, stood behind him. When Imam Ali (a.s.) was in the state of
prostration, Ibne Muljam dealt a heavy stroke with his sword on Imam Ali's (A)
head. The Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) had foretold the assassination of Imam Ali
and his children and had said "O Ali, I see before my eyes your beard dyed with
the blood of your forehead".
The murderer was caught and brought to Imam Ali (a.s.) and when Imam Ali
that the ropes tied to him were cutting his flesh, he forgot his own agony and
requested that Ibne Muljam should be treated more humanely. Touched by these
words the murderer started to weep. A smile played on Imam Ali's (A) lips and in
a faint voice he said, "It is too late to repent now, you have done your deed.
Was I a bad Imam or an unkind ruler?" This conduct was typical of Imam Ali
whose justice was always tempered with mercy, even to the worst of his enemies.
Imam Ali (a.s.) was taken home from the mosque. During his last hours, Asbagh
bin Nabata, one of his companions, visited him and asked him for some words of
advice. Imam Ali (a.s.) replied, "O Asbagh, what can be greater counsel than the
fact that yesterday I was your companion, today I am your guest and tomorrow I
will only be a memory."
His last words to his sons were, "Remain steadfast in piety and resign
yourself to the Will of Allah. Never aspire to anything which is beyond your
reach. Always be truthful and merciful towards the orphans. Help the poor and
needy and try to live in the world in a way which may help it to become better."
He also instructed them to carry his coffin from behind only, as the front
would be carried by unseen hands. He told them to take the route guided by the
coffin itself. At the place where the coffin would stop, they would find a grave
already dug for him. He also requested his sons that he should be buried
secretly, because he feared his enemies might desecrate his grave.
On the 21st of Ramadhan in 40 A.H. Imam Ali (a.s.) departed this world. He was
63 years old at the time. After washing and shrouding his body, his two sons
Imam Hasan (A) and Imam Husain (A) carried the coffin. The coffin stopped at
Najaf which is about four miles from Kufa. Here they found a grave already
prepared with a message in it saying: "This grave has been dug by Prophet Nuh
(A) for the Commander of the Faithful, Ali (a.s.)."