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GHAYBAH. The Arabic word ghaybah literally means absence, but in the theological constructs of the Twelvers (Ithna `Asharlyah, a Shi`i sect) it designates the "occultation" of the twelfth imam, Muhammad, son of al-Hasan ibn `Ali al-`Askari (d. 874). He has gone into hiding, but he remains present in the community, and will return as an eschatological figure (al-mahdi, alqa'im). He will come with the sword, he will fill the earth with justice, and his reign will usher in the last days and the Res ...more

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