The Short Occultation and the Contacts with the Shi'a
Dr. Fahimi: I have heard that after the short occultation began, there were some charlatans who, taking advantage of the ignorance of the ignorant masses, claimed to be the deputies and 'gates' (bab = 'mediator' between the Imam and his followers) of the Hidden Imam. They cheated the people and pocketed a lot of their wealth. Could you take some time to explain who exactly these deputies were and what kind of contact and relationship there was between the Imam and his followers, and in what form?
Mr. Hoshyar: During the short occultation people in general were deprived of a more normal contact with the Imam. However, the relationship was not completely severed. It was maintained through some special individuals known as bab ('mediator'), na'ib ('deputy'), and wakil ('representative'). It was through these individuals that the people established contact with their Imam, asking questions of him and seeking his assistance in their affairs. The share of the Imam from the khums (the 'fifth') was delivered to the Imam through his deputy. Sometimes, they used to ask for material help from the Imam; at other times they used to seek permission to go for hajj or other kinds of travel; still at other times they would ask the Imam to pray for their sick or to pray for a child for them. The Imam used to respond to these requests through different individuals who represented him among them in different parts of the Muslim world. In the performance of all these tasks there were specific individuals who executed the will of the Imam. There were times when the requests were made in letters to the Imam and, accordingly, he would respond in writing. These 'signed notes' from him were known as tawqi'.
Adopted from the book : "Al-Imam al-Mahdi (a.s.); the Just Leader of Humanity" by : "Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini"
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