The Holy Prophet (PBUH) had prophesied the assassination of Imam ‘Ali (AS) and his issues. Regarding Imam ‘Ali (AS) he (PBUH) had said, “Oh ‘Ali! I see before my eyes thy beard dyed with the blood of thy forehead.”
On the 19th of Shahr Ramadhan of the year 40 AH, Imam ‘Ali (AS) came to the mosque in Kufah for his morning prayers. Imam mysteriously desired his sons Hasan (AS) and Husayn (AS) to offer their morning prayers in the house and not to accompany him as they usually did to the mosque. Imam ‘Ali (AS) gave the call for prayer (adhan) and became engaged in leading the congregation.
‘Abdurrahman ibn Moljem (LA) pretending to pray stood just behind Imam ‘Ali (AS). As the Imam (AS) was leading the prayers, while in the 2nd sajdah, the killer got up and quickly removed the poisonous sword hitting the Imam on his head with a big blow and the Imam (AS) said in a loud voice: “I swear by the Lord of Ka’bah, I have been successful.”
Gabriel shouted from the heavens: “wallahi tahaddamat arkan al-hodaa.”
The murderer was caught and brought before him. When Imam ‘Ali (AS) saw that the ropes with which his murderer was tied were cutting into his flesh, he forgot his own agony, and requested that he be untied and treated more humanely. Touched by these words the murderer started to weep. A smile played on Imam ‘Ali’s (AS) 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?”
He expressly ordered that no harshness should be shown towards his murderer. He should not be tortured before his execution and should be despatched only with one blow of sword. His body should not be mutilated, and members of his family should not be made to suffer on account of his crime and his property should not be confiscated. ‘Ali’s (AS) justice was always tempered with mercy, even to the worst of his own enemies.
Imam ‘Ali (AS) was taken home from the mosque, and lay mortally wounded, yet he was answering all questions put to him. His sons Hasan (AS) and Husayn (AS) were given the last advice, and finally ‘Ali told them that his coffin was to be lifted only from behind, as the front would of itself be automatically carried, and they would have 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. The coffin stopped at Najaf, which is about four miles from Kufah.
Imam ‘Ali (AS) breathed his last on 21 Ramadhan, 40 AH.
Imam (AS) also requested his sons that he should be buried secretly, because he feared that his enemies would desecrate his grave.
The crime of assassinating Imam ‘Ali (AS) remains one of the most cruel, brutal and hideous, because it was not committed against one man, but against the whole rational Islamic leadership. By assassinating Imam ‘Ali (AS), they actually aimed at assassinating the message, the history, the culture and the nation of Muslims embodied in the person of Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS). In doing so, the Islamic nation lost its guide of progress, and at the most wondrous opportunity in its life after the Holy Prophet (PBUH).