The caliphate of Ali had a shaky start. In spite of his determination to set things right, Ali soon found that he was helpless, and was the prisoner of forces which he could not control. When after his inaugural address, Ali was about to retire to his house, the rebels approached him and said: "O Caliph, beware that we are the people who would pursue things to the bitter end. We can turn things upside down and wreck regimes." Ali asked them not to indulge in such vainglorious boasts and should return to their camps. The rebels chose to remain quiet, but Ali could very well see a look of defiance in their eyes.
As Ali came home, he felt very unhappy. The caliphate had taken very long to come, and when it came, it came in the wrong way. The caliphate had come to him as the gift of the rebels and he could not take any action against them. On the other hand he was so helpless at the outset of his caliphate that he could not do anything against the wishes of the rebels.
At his house his son Imam Hasan, and his cousin Abdullah b Abbas advised him to leave Madina and retire to some place of safety in the desert. Their view was that he should let things settle down and in course of time the people would themselves come to him and assure him of their loyalty. There was a good deal of weight in what Abdullah b Abbas and Imam Hasan said, but Ali could not make up his mind to fall in line with the action proposed by them. Ali a man conspicuous for his valor thought that it would be an act of cowardice on his part to run away from the office which he had once accepted. He said that he would face the situation, however grim, in complete trust in God.