The minor occultation; the first phase of Imām al-Mahdī’s (ʿaj) absence in which the Imam had four directly appointed representatives to work between himself and his followers. 

Began in the year 260 AH / 874 AD, after young Imam al-Madhi (ʿaj) performed the funeral rights of his father, Imām Hasan al-Askari (‘a). During the 67 year period of minor occultation, Imām al-Mahdī (ʿaj) lived in hiding due to the persecution of the Abbasid Caliphs who had imprisoned his father and grandfather. 

Imām al-Mahdī  (ʿaj) communicated with his followers via letters sent to a succession of deputies. 

The minor occultation ended and major occultation began when the fourth and last deputy, Ali al-Samari, received a final letter from Imām al-Mahdī (ʿaj) announcing the major occlusion and predicting al-Samari’s death a week later.