Qambar felt uneasy. He knew something was amiss and sensed the ripple of unease as he stood in the Grand Mosque of Kufa, on the nineteenth of Ramadan. He was only a few rows behind the Commander of the Faithfuls, who was leading the congregational prayer. It was as if the world had slowed as Qambar looked up just in time to see the assassin break rank and lunge toward the Ali, a sword glistening with poison raised in his hand, arched to strike Ali’s head while he was in prostration.
Warning cries were too late as the sword found its mark. Ali did not cry out in pain, but instead gave a cry of proclamation that shook the earth below and the skies above, “By the Lord of the Ka’bah, I have succeeded.” This exclamation in the alcove of the mosque as he felt the edge of the sword crush into his skull meant that his entire life had led up to that moment. From birth he was intoxicated with the love of God and his greatest ambition in life was to wait upon his Creator in every moment of his existence, and he realized it at that moment, he had won.
“By the Lord of the Ka’bah, I have succeeded.”
Qambar’s reaction to the sudden eruption was belated as he beheld the fatal wound on Ali’s head in shock and disbelief. His companions rushed to surrounded the Amir al Moimineen, to protect him from any other assaulters that might attack their leader, but it was a one-man job. The assassin was caught and dragged in front of the Imam, but when Ali saw the ropes that bound his murderer cutting into his flesh, he forgot his own agony and requested that the assassin be untied and treated more humanely. Qambar shuddered with respect and grief; grief that his sire was incurably wounded and respect that he was concerned about the pain of his murderer while in the state he was in.
Ali would draw water from the well and give his servants good food and decent clothing while he would eat stale bread and water, dressed in simple attire.
That was the character of Qambar’s beloved master. Merciful to his foes and equitable to enemies. In all the time that Qambar had worked for Ali, he never saw him once act in any way but justly. He upheld solid principles, the source of which was the Quran and the teachings of The Prophet. They guided his private and public life and were the base of his political philosophy too.
Qambar remembered the day he accompanied his master to the market place where Ali had bought two shirts. One was opulent and expensive, while the other was plain and basic. Ali gave the better shirt to Qambar and kept the other for himself. Qambar was astonished at the gift he was given and insisted that the Prince should take the better one, as he was the Commander of the Faithfuls and the Leader of the Muslims. Ali smiled and answered that he should accept his gift and wear the nicer shirt because he was young and it would suit him better.
Horrified, Qambar caught sight of the Imam’s shirt, soaked red with his blood. He fell to his knees, shaking with despair, still in shock at what had happened. He willed himself to rise, to serve his master if but for one last time. Although he was Ali’s servant, Qambar had few occasions to serve his master. The Prince of Believers would do his own work himself. Ali would draw water from the well and give his servants good food and decent clothing while he would eat stale bread and water, dressed in simple attire. He never used a cane for discipline, even on his horse or camel. The animals understood his mood and desire and would trot accordingly to where he wished. Humble, courteous, and merciful was the character of Qambar’s master.
He spent what time he had left in prayer and devotions, dictating his will, giving instructions to his sons, ministers and generals regarding the conduct of the government and urging them to never forget the old, the sick, the poor, the widowed and the orphaned.
Grief stricken, Qambar sobbed as he witnessed Hassan and Hussain gently carrying their father between them as they returned home. The physician tried to dress the ghastly wound but couldn’t stop it from bleeding. The blow from the sword was fatal; the poison was rapidly spreading through his body.
Though Ali was steadily losing blood and weakened from the effects of poison, his faculties were sharp and clear, right to the last moment. He spent what time he had left in prayer and devotions, dictating his will, giving instructions to his sons, ministers and generals regarding the conduct of the government and urging them to never forget the old, the sick, the poor, the widowed and the orphaned. Qambar couldn’t help it, he was overcome with grief all over again when he saw the Ali flanked by his children. He thought of all the orphans Ali had cared for and protected, all the poor he had housed and clothed. Ali, who would distribute food secretly in the night. Ali, who had earned the title Guardian of the Orphans, was lying on his deathbed.
The poison had done its deed three days later on the morning of the twenty first of Ramadan. Ali left this world to go to the presence of the Creator who he loved and served all his life.