Sabahat Ali, Mexico
In 1848, a rumour spread which would transform the history of a nation. What began as a whisper promising bottomless riches soon swelled into an irresistible allure attracting throngs of merchants and miners alike from all over the globe.
When James Wilson Marshall first saw a shimmer in the river at the foot of the Californian Sierra Nevada mountains, it was a moment of heart-stopping excitement. He had struck gold – and not just any gold. The famously coined ‘Gold Rush’ which ensued would unearth 750,000 pounds of solid sunshine; tens of billions of US dollars’ worth by today’s standards.
News that heaps of gold were emerging from the Sutter’s Mill soon reached the ears of America.
And then everything went silent.
The prospect of a treasure trove was momentarily muted by scepticism. Early reports were met with disbelief. It was simply too good to be true.
That is, until a fateful day in San Francisco, when one Sam Brannan decided to showcase a vial of gold throughout town, telling the awe-struck spectators that it was from Sutter’s Mill. This eyewitness account proved sufficient evidence, and within a few weeks, three-quarters of San Francisco’s male population had embarked on the journey to claim their share of the gold rush.
By December, President Polk himself announced the authenticity of the findings:
‘The accounts of abundance of gold are of such an extraordinary character as would scarcely command belief were they not corroborated by the authentic reports of officers in the public service.’ 
Within months, the silent scepticism had exploded into a frenzied influx of people from all over the country rushing to get their share. Soon, thousands thronged to the treasure trove from Oregon to Hawaii and from Chile to China.
The testimony of a trusted voice and the corroborating evidence of those who had personally visited the mill fueled the masses with the conviction to sell much of what they owned and make the otherwise burdensome journey.
The Misuse of Scepticism
When eye-witness accounts started testifying to the abundance of gold, one could still have argued that there was no proof linking the alleged gold to the mill. Conspiracy theorists might have proposed some ulterior motive behind the entire ordeal. Those led by scientism wouldn’t dare leave their house without conclusive proof from a laboratory that the gold was indeed coming from that particular mill. Logicians wouldn’t have given it a second thought if the reports failed to hold tenable in their estimation.
Yet while self-styled intellectuals would delight in their premature scepticism, thousands of “mad men” who foolishly sold everything they owned to take the leap of faith and journey to the mill would return as multi-millionaires.
Hence, before we delve into a compelling proof for the existence of God, the case-in-point with the above illustration is this: for one who is an atheist first and a scientist second, or a sceptic for the sake of being perfidious, no amount of evidence in any shape or form will ever satisfy them. A thirst that does not exist can never be quenched.
The question of God’s existence is really a question of the universe’s single greatest treasure. If He exists in the personal way that all major religions purport, then to know Him and establish a relationship with Him is the height of human experience. When there is no evidence to disprove His existence, and billions testify to personally experiencing Him every day, an unbiased and fair investigation is still necessary for the sake of truth.
To this end, Islam extends a wager to mankind. God Almighty announces in the Holy Qur’an that He exists and that He will personally guide to certainty one who sincerely looks for Him in the manner that the Holy Qur’an proposes. In return, it promises the most profound and valuable treasure of all – true cognizance of God and unparalleled tranquillity thereby.
It is a curious dilemma. If a person does not wish to seek God sincerely, then God does not stand in need of yielding to the dictates of a sceptic. If one is not honest in discovering a treasure, does not take up the right tools and simply criticizes the process, he cannot unearth anything.
The Spiritual Gold Rush of Prophethood
The advents of the true Prophets of God were the greatest spiritual gold rushes in humankind’s history. To a 21st century reader, this may seem a tall claim. But a glance at the history of the founding fathers for the three great Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – reveals the astonishing flow of people who poured in from all over to hear and accept their claim that God exists and that His companionship can be attained through good works and faith.
Much like the rumours of the Gold Rush, the claims were at first met with little support and much scepticism. Moses (as), Jesus (as) and Muhammad (sa) each invited humankind toward the same single Being. They all shared similar situations: lone men claiming that the same One God had spoken to them and sent them to re-establish faith in an All-Powerful Creator.
And like the timeline of the Gold Rush, as eyewitness testimonies to their powerful connection with God reached the masses, it created a great stir of excitement. After all, someone was offering a map to the grandest treasure in history – a personal friendship with the most powerful Being of all.
When the President of the U.S officially announced the truth of the gold in Sutter’s Mill, it triggered an international influx. Similarly, when everyone from the greatest Chiefs of Mecca (and Kings of Africa) to the Pharaoh himself in Moses’ (as) time, testified to the incontrovertible truth of these Prophet’s of God, it became a serious point to ponder.
The Second Caliph and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) argues that the Prophets of God all called mankind to the same treasure – the same God. He writes,
‘…to the followers of the prevalent religions of that era—Christianity, Judaism and Meccan paganism—God makes the decisive argument [in the Qur’an] that the teaching of Abraham (as) and Moses (as)…is the exact same teaching…
In truth, all world religions agree on the existence of a being who is the creator of the universe. While there may be differences in doctrines and beliefs because of geographical and circumstantial variances, all faiths universally accept the existence of God even if they diverge on the particulars, such as an understanding of His attributes.
‘All major contemporary religions—Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, and Zoroastrianism—believe in the existence of the One God, Elohim, Parameshwara, Paramatma, Satguru or Yezdan.’ 
With time, people who visited these men and witnessed the excellence of their character, their extreme level of honesty, and impossible victories despite virtually no means to achieve them were impelled to study the force that backed their claim. These people included the greatest wise men and intellectuals of the time; from royal physicians to western logicians, from societies common folk to its rich academic yolk. And much like the gold rush, many sold their belongings and journeyed to be with these men because of the veracity of their truth.
Today, billions still believe in their truth.
As Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad M.A (ra) writes:
‘The different religions may differ on many of their teachings, but they are in total agreement on the basic points. For example, they agree that the universe has a Creator and Master with complete control over our lives and that He has ordained some purpose for our lives and also taught us the ways and means to achieve it. Religions teach that death is not the end of man’s life, rather there is another life after death in which we shall get a reward for the deeds of our present existence.
This unanimous testimony of all religions brings forth the question of Almighty God in such a way that we are compelled to investigate and find answers. If all the above claims made by different religions are true, then being unaware of God is the greatest loss we can possibly suffer in this world, for such ignorance would mean that we have lived our lives in vain…
Hence, we conclude that the search for God is so important that no sensible person can afford to ignore it for an instant.’ 
The more precious and beneficial the treasure, the greater the energy its excavation and discovery demands. The more comprehensive its benefit to mankind, the more time and resources one is willing to expend in its investigation and procurement. The masses that converged upon California were fueled by hope and optimism, to the extent that many gambled their belongings and even homes on the prospect benefitting. Others did the same thing because not doing so would cast them into a pit of depravity while their friends and neighbours reaped riches beyond fancy.
Whether one believes in God or not, the colossal way in which the founders of the major faiths have shaped all of humanity is incontrovertible. The unanimity on the existence of God throughout the major faiths and mankind’s history in various nations while they were totally cut off from one another warrants serious thought. We close the first part of this piece with a fascinating argument which should move any honest person to reflect:
Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) writes about this strange unanimity among the ancient tribes of the world:
‘Archaeological evidence also shows even religions now considered extinct were [in their essential features] monotheistic; whether they were found in the far off places of the Americas, the forests of Africa, or in Rome, England, Java-Sumatra, Japan, China, Siberia or Manchuria. How did this harmony of belief arise, and who apprised the inhabitants of America about the creeds of the people of India and similarly who told the people of China about the beliefs of Africans?
In the past, [means of transportation and communication such as] trains, telegrams and the post did not exist as they do now, nor were there aeroplanes or large ships regularly travelling back and forth. Journeys were usually undertaken by horseback or mule and the sailing vessels of the time would take months to complete voyages that now take just days. Vast swathes of the world remained undiscovered during this period. How could a consensus emerge on this particular belief among remote and distant communities of different dispositions and cultures?
It is difficult enough for two people to agree on something that has been fabricated; the fact that so many nations and countries have reached a consensus on a single principle, without any means of exchanging their ideas, is proof of the veracity of this belief which has been mysteriously revealed by Islam and which in the past has been expressed to peoples of all countries and nations.’ 
Stay tuned for Part II of this article in the Existence of God series wherein we shall explore the argument that the idea of God was manufactured by the hazy beginnings of man’s intellectual awakening, and that humans dubbed the things they feared as deities.
About the Author: Sabahat Ali is a graduate from the Canadian Ahmadiyya Institute of Languages and Theology. He currently serves as an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Mexico, and is a regular contributor for the Review of Religions.
 California Gold Rush, March 30, 2020, https://www.history.com/topics/westward-expansion/gold-rush-of-1849#:~:text=Miners%20extracted%20more%20than%20750%2C000,hands%20of%20the%20United%20States. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
 Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), Ten Proofs for the Existence of God, (English Translation) pp. 8-9
 Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad M.A (ra), Our God (English Translation) p. 16
 Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Ten Proofs for the Existence of God, (English Translation) pp. 9-10