When Muawiyah had raised the standard of revolt in the west in Syria, and Ayesha had led her forces to Basra in the east, Ali could afford to undertake a punitive expedition against Kufa to cut the Governor to proper size. Ali accordingly decided to win over the people of Kufa and their Governor through conciliatory means. From Rabda, Ali sent a mission to Kufa comprising Muhammad b Jafar and Muhammad b Abu Bakr. Both of them were the sons of Asma. Asma was originally the wife of Jafar an elder brother of Ali. After the death of Jafar, Asma married Abu Bakr. After the death of Abu Bakr she married Ali. The two Muhammads were thus the step-sons of Ali. About their mission to Kufa, Ali instructed his envoys as follows: "Should the people of Kufa respond to my call, tell them how I prefer them to all other people of the commonwealth. Give them the tidings that I intend to make Kufa the capital of the empire. Treat the Kufans with kindness, and ask them to come and arbitrate between us and those who have separated from us. Point out to them that I am putting up trust in them at this critical juncture. Let them come forward to help the religion of God and adopt such measures as may help to reunite the divided Muslims. "
The envoys of Ali were received by Abu Musa Ashari coldly. He behaved as if he was not an appointee of Ali, but was the ruler of an independent country. He wanted the envoys of Ali to carry the following message to their master: "The assumption of the caliphate has placed Ali in an awkward position. Therefore, we the people of Kufa have decided not to engage ourselves in the struggle. Let it be understood that we shall not take sides, until you have rid yourselves of the murderers of Othman,"