Occultation theories in the history of Shiism

“The idea of a concealed or occult imam was nothing new. Even after the death of Ali’s third son Muhammad, the sixth imam Jafar Sadiq and the seventh imam Musa kazim, some people believed fora time that they had not died but were merely hidden, waiting to return a short time later. Some Shiites had similar hopes with respect to the twelfth imam, even though no one had ever seen him. It took almost two hundred years until the belief in the existence of the Hidden Imam became widely accepted throughout the Shia Community… Initially he was believed to be living incognito on Byzantine territory to remain completely out of the clutches of the Caliph. For four generations it was also believed thatthe Hidden Imam was connected to his “orphaned” community through a messenger (safir), giving his commands via letter.”

The shiites: a short history , Page 29
By Heinz Halm

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