Before the Báb declared His mission, there were a few people who announced the coming of a Promised One to the people of Iran. One of these was Haji Assad, who lived in a village near Tabriz. The haji made it his mission to tell everyone, especially the residents of Seysan, of the coming of a new Manifestation. Haji Assad was a pious person who had visited Mecca and Karbala several times. He was also a mystic and a seer. He had spiritual insight, and it was this insight that enabled him to recognize the Báb and believe in Him even before He had declared Himself.
In 1825, Haji Assad went to Seysan, a village in which the majority of people were Shia Muslim. Once there, he announced the coming of the Báb, the Qaim-i Al-i Muhammad or “He who will arise from the family of Muhammad,” the very one who the people had been waiting for. Haji Assad told the people that the Báb was a young man of medium height who came from Shiraz, and would bring new teachings to revive the world, and he directed his students to start searching for Him.
Haji Assad did not have many followers. Most of the inhabitants of Seysan opposed him or were indifferent. Those who opposed him asked the head of the village to bar him from entering Seysan. Despite such obstacles, Haji Assad continued to visit Seysan to teach the illiterate villagers about the need to cultivate divine virtues, such as humility and chastity. He also did his best to eradicate superstitious beliefs, which were leading the people astray.
Before his death, Haji Assad gathered his students together to give them some final guidance. “The coming of the Báb is close at hand,” he said, “and if you hear of someone who the ulama have sentenced to death because of the heresy of His claims, rest assured that He is the promised one you have been looking for.” Haji Assad died two years before the Báb declared His mission in 1844, but the haji’s predictions came true. His followers in Seysan heard of a person who called himself “the Promised One,” and so they went to Tabriz to look for Him, and, before long, this holy Person was sentenced to death for heresy.
Without question, it was Haji Assad who planted the seed of faith in the hearts of the people of Seysan. It was he who encouraged them to look for the Promised One. Although he faced much opposition, he persisted in teaching the villagers of Seysan about the importance of divine virtues and in alerting them to the coming of a new Prophet. Before his death, Haji Assad predicted that the villagers would see this holy soul sentenced to death. As we know, this prediction came true. Haji Assad did not himself meet the holy Báb, but, overcoming many obstacles and in the face of much opposition, he succeeded in preparing the villagers of Seysan for His coming.