Ali's original plan was to undertake an expedition against Syria. The implementation of the plan had to be deferred because the people of Madina had not favorably responded to his call for arms. The crisis deepened when Talha and Zubair escaped from Madina, and at Makkah, Ayesha raised the cry for the vengeance of the blood of Othman. Ali had thought that Ayesha's call would be a mere storm in the tea-cup and she would not or could not go to the extent of precipitating war. When All came to know that Ayesha had assembled a force, and was planning a march to Basra, he felt that no further time could be lost and immediate action was called for to frustrate the efforts of Ayesha in gaining further strength. It was with some difficulty that Ali was able to raise a small force at Madina. By and large the people of Madina shut themselves in their houses, and remained indifferent to the call of Ali. The force that Ali was able to muster comprised mostly of the Sabites who had participated in the revolt against Othman. Some people of Madina who were personally devoted to Ali, however joined the ranks. Abu Qatada a leader of the Ansars, and a veteran warrior waited on Ali and offered his services. Umm Salma, a wife of the Holy Prophet came to see Ali and said that if other women were to accompany him she would be glad to accompany. She had a son Umar by a former husband and he joined the army of Ali. Ali appointed Tamam b Abbas as the Governor of Madina. He sent an emissary to Makkah to recruit whatever volunteers he could from the people of Makkah. The strength of the force that Ali was able to muster in Madina did not exceed nine hundred. At the head of this force, Ali marched out of Madina. When Ali was about to depart, Abdullah b Salam, a veteran companion of the Holy Prophet, held up the reins of the horse of Ali and said: "O Commander of the faithful, do not go out of Madina. If you once leave Madina you will not be able to return to Madina again. Madina would thereafter cease to be the capital of the Muslim world."
The Sabite followers of Ali wanted to deal roughly with the old man, but Ali warned them not to touch the person of Abdullah b Salam for he was an eminent companion of the Holy Prophet. Ali assured Abdullah b Salam that he would soon return to Madina. That was, however, not to be. Ali never came back to Madina, and Madina ceased to be the capital of the Muslim commonwealth.