Ali felt much disturbed at the defection of Talha and Zubair. He felt that Talha and Zubair had defected under some misunderstanding. He decided that instead of taking any punitive action against them, an effort should be made to conciliate them. He accordingly addressed them a letter in the following terms, and sent it to them at Makkah through a special messengers:
Verily, both of you know very well that I did not approach the people to elect me as the Caliph. On the other hand it were the people who forced me to accept the office of the Caliph in the interests of Islam. Again I did not ask the people to swear allegiance to me, they did so of their own accord. Both of you also stepped towards me and took the oath of fealty. The people did swear allegiance to me neither through any dread of fear nor from any hope of worldly gain or profit. So, if you took the oath voluntarily, how can you retrace and recant? If you swore under compulsion even then you have proved the case against yourself because you outwardly rendered obedience to me and concealed your treachery from me. By God, such hypocrisy did not behoove Muhajirs of your caliber. There was a good deal of scope left for you before you took the oath, but when you had taken the oath, no margin was left to you from recanting from that holy contract which you had entered of your own accord. You say that I am the murderer of Othman. Come forward and let the people of Madina who did not take side with either of the parties, judge between you and me. Their judgment would reveal what I and you did on that occasion. You are experienced old men and it behooves you to repent of what you have done. It is bad enough that you have incurred the odium of the people of the world, but beware that, in the life to come, for such deviation from the right you will have to face hell." This letter had no effect on Talha and Zubair. In Makkah they joined Ayesha, and raised the cry for vengeance for the blood of Othman.