Occultation (Islam)

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Occultation (Arabic: غَيْبَة‎, ghaybah) in Shia Islam refers to a belief that the messianic figure known as the Mahdi, a cultivated male descendant of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, has already been born and subsequently went into hiding, from which he will one day emerge and establish a global Islamic state. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_0

The groups that do believe in it differ on the succession of the Imamah, and therefore which individual is in occultation, with the largest Shia branch holding it is Hujjat-Allah al-Mahdi, the twelfth Imam. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_1

The Hidden Imam is still considered to be the "Imam of the Era", to hold authority over the community, and to guide and protect individuals and the Shia community. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_2

Twelver Occultation (Islam)_section_0

In Twelver Shia Islam, the largest branch of the Shia faith, twelfth imam, Hujjat-Allah al-Mahdi, went into the Minor Occultation in 874, in which he communicated to his Shias through the Four Deputies. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_3

Minor Occultation Occultation (Islam)_section_1

Main article: Minor Occultation Occultation (Islam)_sentence_4

The Minor Occultation (Arabic: ٱلْغَيْبَة ٱلصُّغْرَىٰ‎, al-Ghaybah aṣ-Ṣughrā) refers to the period when the Twelver Shia believe the Imam still maintained contact with his followers via deputies (Arabic: ٱلنُّوَّاب ٱلْأَرْبَعَة‎, an-Nuwwāb al-ʾArbaʿa). Occultation (Islam)_sentence_5

During this period, lasting from 874 to 941, the deputies represented him and acted as agents between him and his followers. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_6

Shia believe that in 873, after the death of his father, the eleventh Imam, Hasan al-Askari, the 12th Imam was hidden from the authorities of the Abbasid Caliphate as a precaution. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_7

His whereabouts were disclosed only to a select few. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_8

Four close associates of his father, known as The Four Deputies, became mediators between the Imam and his followers known as Sufara until the year 941. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_9

This period is considered by Twelvers to be the first, or minor occultation. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_10

When believers faced difficulty, they would write their concerns and send them to his deputy. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_11

The deputy would receive the decision of the Imam, endorse it with his seal and signature, and return it to the concerned parties. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_12

The deputies also collected Zakat and Khums on his behalf. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_13

For the Shia, the idea of consulting a hidden Imam was not something new, because the two prior Imams had, on occasion, met with their followers from behind a curtain. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_14

System of the Deputy Occultation (Islam)_section_2

Main article: The Four Deputies Occultation (Islam)_sentence_15

According to Twelvers, under the critical situation caused by Abbasids, Ja'far al-Sadiq was the first to base the underground system of communication in the Shia community. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_16

By the time of Muhammad al-Jawad, the agents took the tactic of al-Taqiyya to take part in government. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_17

From the time of Ali al-Ridha, the Imams were under the direct control of the authorities and the direct contact between the Imam and the community was disconnected. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_18

The situation led to the increase in the role of deputies. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_19

The deputies undertook the tasks of Imams to release them from the pressure of the Abbasids. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_20

Shia tradition holds that the Four Deputies acted in succession: Occultation (Islam)_sentence_21

Occultation (Islam)_ordered_list_0

  1. Uthman ibn Sa'id al-Asadi (873–874): He was the first deputy appointed by 12th Imam who governed for one year;Occultation (Islam)_item_0_0
  2. Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Uthman (874–916): He was the second deputy appointed by 12th Imam for forty-two years;Occultation (Islam)_item_0_1
  3. Abu al-Qasim al-Husayn ibn Ruh al-Nawbakhti (916–937): He was the third deputy appointed by Al-Mahdi for twenty-one years;Occultation (Islam)_item_0_2
  4. Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Muhammad al-Samarri (937–940): He was the last deputy of 12th Imam for three years.Occultation (Islam)_item_0_3

In 941 (329 AH), the fourth deputy announced information from Imam Hujjat-Allah al-Mahdi that the deputy would soon die and that the deputyship would end, beginning the Major Occultation. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_22

The fourth deputy died six days later, and Twelvers continue to await the reappearance of the Mahdi. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_23

In the same year, many notable Shia scholars such as Ali ibn Babawayh Qummi and Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, the learned compiler of al-Kāfī, also died. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_24

Major Occultation Occultation (Islam)_section_3

Main article: Major Occultation Occultation (Islam)_sentence_25

The Major Occultation (Arabic: ٱلْغَيْبَة ٱلْكُبْرَىٰ‎, al-Ghaybah al-Kubrā) denotes the second, longer portion of the Occultation, which continues to the present day. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_26

Shia believe, based on the last Saf’ir's deathbed message, that the Twelfth Imam had decided not to appoint another deputy. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_27

Thus, al-Samarri's death marked the beginning of the second or Major Occultation. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_28

According to the last letter of Hujjat-Allah al-Mahdi to Ali ibn Muhammad al-Samarri: Occultation (Islam)_sentence_29

With regard to advice for his followers during his absence, he is reported to have said: "Refer to the transmitters of our narrations, for they are my Hujjah (proof) unto yo! Occultation (Islam)_sentence_30

and I am Allah's Hujjah unto them." Occultation (Islam)_sentence_31

Ismaili Occultation (Islam)_section_4

Sevener Occultation (Islam)_section_5

Before the rise of the Fatimid Caliphate, a small group of Ismailis, the Qarmatians, believed that Muhammad ibn Isma'il had gone into Occultation and were called "Seveners" to reflect their belief in only seven Imams, Muhammad's father Isma'il being the last until his return. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_32

The Qarmatians accepted a Persian prisoner by the name of Abu'l-Fadl al-Isfahani, who claimed to be the descendant of emperors, as the returned Muhammad ibn Isma'il and also as the Mahdi. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_33

The Qarmatians rampaged violently across the Middle East in the 10th century, climaxing their bloody campaign with the stealing of the Black Stone from the Kaaba in Mecca in 930 under Abu Tahir al-Jannabi. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_34

After the arrival of the Mahdi they changed their qibla from the Kaaba to the Zoroastrian-influenced fire. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_35

After their return of the Black Stone in 951 and defeat by the Abbasids in 976 they slowly faded out of history and no longer have any adherents. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_36

Musta'li Occultation (Islam)_section_6

According to Tayyibi Isma'ilism, during the Occultation of the twenty-first imam, at-Tayyib Abu'l-Qasim, a Da'i al-Mutlaq "Unrestricted Missionary", maintains contact with him. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_37

The several branches of the Musta'li Shia differ on who the current Da'i al-Mutlaq is. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_38

Nizari Occultation (Islam)_section_7

The Nizari Isma'ili believe that there is no Occultation at all, that the Aga Khan IV is the 49th Imam of the Time. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_39

They believe that the Imam's authority is no different from the authority of Ali, the first Imam; he currently provides guidance to Nizaris on worldly and spiritual matters. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_40

Waqifi Occultation (Islam)_section_8

According to Waqifi Sevener Shias, there are reasons for the occultation: Imam not being proud of himself and continue to examine world events and make evaluations, only to be loyal and reverent to the Lord and Allah, which are also in Occultation, the other Muslims sects are to be judged by the Mahdi through the guidance of the Lord and Allah. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_41

Druze Occultation (Islam)_section_9

The Druze believe the imam Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah went into the Occultation after he disappeared in 1021 followed by the four founding Da'i of the Druze sect including Hamza ibn-'Ali ibn-Ahmad leaving the leadership to a fifth leader called Baha Al-Din. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_42

The Druze refused to acknowledge the successor of Al-Hakim as an Imam but accepted him as a Caliph. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_43

The faith further split from Ismailism as it developed unique doctrines which often classes it separately from both Ismailism and Islam, these include the belief that Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah was God incarnate. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_44

Zaidi Occultation (Islam)_section_10

The Zaidi believe that there is no occultation at all and that any descendant of Hasan or Husayn could become Imam. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_45

The Imam must rise up against oppression and injustice and rule as a visible and just ruler. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_46

Other views Occultation (Islam)_section_11

Scholarly observations Occultation (Islam)_section_12

Some scholars, including Bernard Lewis, point out that the idea of an Imam in occultation was not new in 873 but that it was a recurring factor in Shia history. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_47

Examples of this include the cases of Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah (according to the Kaysanites), Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya, Musa al-Kadhim (according to the Waqifite Shia), Muhammad ibn Qasim (al-Alawi), Yahya ibn Umar and Muhammad ibn Ali al-Hadi. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_48

Baháʼí views Occultation (Islam)_section_13

In the Baháʼí Faith, which sees the Báb as 'spiritual return' of al-Mahdi, Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá considered the story of the Occultation of the twelfth imam in Twelver belief to have been a pious fraud conceived by a number of the leading Shias in order to maintain the coherence and continuity of the Shia movement after the death of the 11th Imam, Hasan al-Askari. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_49

Bahá'ís believe that Sayyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi, known as the Báb, is the 'spiritual return' of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi, who had already made his advent and fulfilled all the prophecies. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_50

Multiple sources claim that the Báb recanted his claim under trial, which is rejected by his followers. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_51

The Báb was publicly executed on July 9, 1850 A.D. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_52

The Bab repeatedly talked about a messianic figure in his writings called He Whom God shall make manifest that would appear after him and would be the origin of all divine attributes. Occultation (Islam)_sentence_53

See also Occultation (Islam)_section_14

Occultation (Islam)_unordered_list_1

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occultation (Islam).