Occultation. A period in which the final Imām, al-Mahdī (ʿaj), is not accessible to humanity as part of Allah’s plan. 

The occultation of Imam al-Mahdi (ʿaj) consists of two phases: the first is the minor occultation (al-ghaybah aṣ-ṣughrā) which began from the death of his father, Imam al-Askari (ʿa), when the 12th Imam was 5 years old and continued for 67 years during which time the Imām was in contact with his followers via deputies – four which represented the Imam.

The second one is referred to as the major occultation (al-ghaybah al-kubrā) in which no representatives exist and there is no contact between the Imam and his followers.

The major occultation began in 941 AD, over 1,050 years ago, and will continue until Allah (s) wills for the Imam to make his return.