The Special Deputies of Imam Mahdi (aj)
Little is found in early Shi‘a sources regarding the special deputies of Imam Mahdi during the Minor Occultation. While in various Shi‘a sources various people are referred to as envoys of Imam Mahdi, his four prominent deputies are ‘Uthman ibn Sa‘id ‘Amri, Muhammad ibn ‘Uthman, Husayn ibn Ruh Nowbakhti, and Ali ibn Muhammad Samari. ‘Uthman ibn Sa‘id ‘Amri, who was an agent (wakil) of Imam Hadi and Imam Hasan ‘Askari, was his first deputy in the Minor Occultation, and his deputyship can be corroborated in many ways. After him, Muhammad ibn ‘Uthman was chosen by the Imam as his second deputy. Husayn ibn Ruh Nowbakhti, an influential figure of his time, served as the Imam’s third deputy for about 21 years. Finally, ‘Uthman ibn Sa‘id ‘Amri was the last deputy, who in the Imam’s famous letter to him declared the start of the Major Occultation.