This is a letter written by Imam Ali (a) to Talha and Zubayr and sent to them through Imran bin Hasin Khuza'i. Imran was a companion of the Holy Prophet (s). He had embraced Islam before the Battle of Khaybar and from then onwards he remained in his company. He was a very pious person and one of the very authentic narrators of the traditions of the Holy Prophet (s). Besides Nahjul Balaagha, this letter has also been narrated by Abu Ja'far Iskaafi in his famous book “Al-Maqamat fi Manaqib Amir al-Mu'minin”.
You may try as much as you like to hide the fact and to draw a curtain over it but both of you know very well that I did not approach the people to get their oath of allegiance but they came to me with their desire to make me their Amir (ruler). I did not extend my hands towards them so that they might swear the oath of allegiance to me but they themselves extended their hands towards me. And you two were among those who had flocked around me to swear the oath.
You all came to me to take the oath not because you were afraid of my power to oppress or tyrannize you, nor did you expect any monetary gain from me. If you two had taken the oath of allegiance of your own free will and without any compulsion, then do not break this oath, come back to it, repent before Allah of your having broken the oath. And if your action of swearing the oath of allegiance was not a sincere act done with pleasure and free-will, then your behaviour of pretending obedience and fidelity in the beginning and revolting against me at a later time does not speak well of your character and which serves as an argument in my favour and against you.
Upon my life you had no more pressing need than other Muhajirs to hide your real intentions from me and to hypocritically pretend fidelity and allegiance. In fact there was more justification then for you not to swear the oath of allegiance and not to offer your fidelity than to go back upon your oath and promise now.
You two were wealthy people and had your clans to support and back you. Those clans were then as they are now, powerful tribes. You were not forced to come and take the oath. Do you know what made you then behave like a hypocrite and now like a freed-slave? They were your ulterior motives.
You are telling people that I am responsible for the murder of Caliph Uthman. To bear witness to the fact as to who is responsible for the murder of the Caliph, you two or I, there are people in Madina, who are impartial. They have never sided you or me and have kept themselves aloof from me from the very beginning. Shall we ask their opinion as to who is responsible for this assassination? Their opinion will settle the question once and for all, will lay the responsibility on proper shoulders and will disclose the part each one of us has played of helping the caliph as much as possible or exciting the people against him and aiding and abetting the murder.
My respected friends! Give up your present attitude though I know that by declaring the falsity of your position today you stand the chance of being ridiculed and disgraced yet by persisting in your wrong and wicked attitude you will tomorrow certainly earn the disgrace in this world as well as the punishment in the next.