Sabahat Ali, USA
Editor, The Existence Project
It’s true what they say:
Seeing is believing.
From the apps that connect us to the books that transport us, the invisible hand of strangers who try, test and witness life’s countless experiences plays a pivotal role in our own lives. Our perfunctory dive into YouTube’s comment section, the reflexive skip to Amazon’s product reviews, the way our eyes wander from our menus to the steaming plates of those who’ve ordered before us – we want to see things for ourselves, even if it’s through other people.
What is The God Summit?
On May 14th and 15th, 2022, The Review of Religions was honoured to host the second Global God Summit – an international conference on the nature and existence of God, showcasing spectacular examples of people around the world who’ve experienced resounding evidence of His deeply loving and often life-altering support in their own lives.
Streamed on The Review of Religions’ YouTube channel, the God Summit brought together an array of over 55 speakers and dozens of high-quality video segments from numerous corners of the world, including Ghana, Australia, Nigeria, Argentina, Germany, Canada, USA, India, the Middle East and Poland.
With over 13 hours of programming spanning two days, the second Global God Summit sought to discuss a range of some of the biggest questions about God and spirituality. From compelling – and often moving – testimonies of men and women (both young and old) across the world who experienced divine support in superbly astonishing ways, to talks, panel discussions, live Q&As and more.
The Global Viewership – Facts & Figures
This year, various language-dedicated streams were available on YouTube to cater to the global audience. Amongst them was English, Spanish, French, Arabic, German, Urdu, Swahili, Twi, Hausa and Yoroba. The God Summit 2022 was also broadcast via MTA Africa TV channels to a number of African countries. Various individual segments from this year’s summit have since been uploaded to The Review of Religions’ YouTube channel. The total individual views on YouTube, (which do not include the viewership across Africa who watched via MTA Africa) is just over 200,000 at the time of writing this report (including individual video views).
Keep in mind that many of these individual views actually represent chapters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who gathered as groups in their local centres and mosques, or households who watched with family members, however, each of these would only count as one view.
The Concluding Historic Special Message of The God Summit 2022
This year, the world was taken by the most wonderful surprise of the summit – scores of people immediately took to social media and began to express their excitement about the special message His Holiness (aba) would be granting the Summit. A special message that crowned the occasion was delivered by the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), who elucidated the philosophy of tapping into the power of prayer through the right methodology and mindset. He then proceeded to share some inspiring accounts of Ahmadi Muslims around the world who’ve written to him their encounters with the miraculous and efficacious influence of prayers in their lives.
Many expressed the extraordinary experience of watching the Caliph of God speaking so endearingly about the hidden secrets of prayers and the faith inspiring accounts he shared. The Caliph’s message truly brought The God Summit to its summit. A full transcript of this historic address from the blessed office of His Holiness (aba) in Tilford, Islamabad, was published previously online and in the previous edition of the The Review of Religions, for readers to avail of.
The Origin of The God Summit & the Working Structure
On day 2 of the summit, during a live studio interview, The Review of Religions’ Chief Editor and Manager, Syed Amer Safir, explained that this global God Summit is a culmination of many years of direct guidance that was received from His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) about creating content on the existence of God. From examples of what sources to use when presenting arguments to the need for collecting personal incidents of people with God Almighty from around the world – the key concepts used stemmed from foundational guidance imparted by His Holiness (aba).
Along with the vast amount of content produced by The Review of Religions core team, the social media, website, production, editing and content review teams worked day and night to produce the summit. In a great display of unity, MTA International studios around the globe, including UK, USA, Ghana, Nigeria, Australia, Canada, and Kababir also passionately demonstrated their support in a number of ways to help film and edit several stories and talks directed and produced by The Review of Religions team.
The Programme – A Breakdown
Each day commenced with a recitation of the Holy Qur’an with numerous breath-taking scenes of nature’s many wonders to reflect the shining creativity of the Creator in the world around us, followed by the words of the founder of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) on the pursuit and nature of God. The programme was then split up by live studio sessions after every 30-40 minutes. The summit featured many miraculous and moving true accounts of Ahmadi Muslims and how their trust, conviction, prayers and faith at times miraculously resolved mountainous trials, or equipped them with the amazing grit and gratitude they needed to emerge stronger in spite of them.
The awe-inspiring accounts of Munir and Sharif Odeh were spectacularly well received. They recounted their first-hand experiences with how God hears the prayers of the caliphs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, how God Almighty directly inspires these caliphs with information about the unseen at critical times, as well as their unshakable trust in God even in the face of apparently certain catastrophe. The interviews of these Arab brothers were a hallmark moment that stirred the hearts of audiences from continent to continent. Social media was abuzz with viewers around the world expressing how these astonishing accounts about their caliph had reduced them to tears and instilled them with faith and conviction.
The Women of the Summit
The women of the Summit were enough to shatter the delusion of anyone still mired in thinking that spirituality is the sole prerogative of men. Hailing from Syria, Nigeria, Ghana, USA, Germany, Spain, Canada and Kababir (amongst other countries) the female presence across every type of segment was pronounced and potent. From Reem Shraiki’s (Syria) elaborate exposition on the methodology and true etiquettes of prayer, Christine Sharif’s (UK) scientific-minded investigation of God, Rabia Chaudhry’s (USA) eloquent rationale on the power that her faith brings to her workplace, to a global panel bringing together women from Africa, Germany, UK and the Middle East which spoke to celebrating divine support and blessings that come from being a Muslim woman no matter where you are.
Not only did the panellists expound on the amazing ways in which God holds your hand when you give precedence to faith over worldly matters, but shared their own emboldening experiences on how their sincere worship of God has brought them from strength to strength even in male-dominated industries and against all odds.
The personal experiences that came from the continent of Africa were simply stellar. Dr. Hameedat Omoyele-Abdussalam recounted how her connection with God has literally helped her save lives through some inspiringly vivid and timely dreams. A Nigerian mother’s story, Maryam-Alli Balogun, left many in awe of how prayer can prove to be a miraculous myrrh even in the case of infants who suffer from various complications congenitally and after birth.
The story of Amna Malik truly left audiences speechless. Along with her mother, she articulated with great heart and soul the emotional journey of asking God Almighty directly for guidance as she came to know that Ahmadiyyat is the truth while being a Sunni Muslim all her life. Her eloquent descriptions of how she interacted with God were incredibly moving. Audiences around the world immediately took to social media expressing how echoingly impactful her bravery and conviction was, and clips of her segment swiftly found their way onto many platforms.
The Bigger Questions
Segments that took on some of the biggest questions of our existence particularly piqued the interest of audiences around the world. A masterclass on ‘Divine Mercy’ by Azhar Haneef of USA left audiences hopeful and enriched, while a discourse on ‘Demystifying Destiny’ by Abdul Ghany Jahangeer Khan of the UK expertly broke down the mammoth subject of predestination and freewill with marked clarity. A powerful piece on ‘The Timeless Question of Suffering’ by Ayyaz Mahmood Khan dealt with the delicate and emotional reality of pain and loss to highlight its beauty in a grander picture. Umar Gyasi with Hiiba Faruk as an expert presented a fascinating expose’ on the origin and modern-day challenges surrounding superstitions.
A live panel of scholars from Ghana discussed and answered the tough questions on an especially challenging aspect of prayer – what about when prayers are not accepted? Dr Bilal Tahir presented the staggeringly vivid prophecies of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community about the First World War and explained how it was fulfilled to the letter. Similarly, Dr Tahir Nasser delivered a discourse on arguing the existence of God from the book Our God by Mian Bashir Ahmad Sahib (ra) M.A.
Children’s Segments – From Quirky Quizzes to Solving Mysteries
But that’s not to say that children were left out of the packed programme – far from it. Messages of happy parents poured in during the Kid’s Space God Summit Special (produced by MTA Social Media), as children around the world (and perhaps more adults than we’d like to admit) laughed along to the witty antics of a particularly mischievous teddy bear. With some special help from Ayyaz Mahmood Khan, audiences from all-over joined Qamar Zafar and his team as they investigated clues and learned about the existence of God on the way.
And that wasn’t all – on the second day, a special episode of Little Legends (produced by MTA Canada) brought together a number of school-aged children who partook in a virtual gameshow, competing to answer some surprisingly tough questions about God Almighty.
Street Segments – We Asked People Around the World about God
There were also a number of word-on-the-street style segments. Sarmad Naveed explored a fundamental question – ‘Is The God Conversation Dead?’ His eloquent and engaging talk was interspersed with interviews of people on the streets from Ghana, USA and the UK, who were asked about whether they thought God was still even relevant. Kamran Mubasher took to the streets of Sydney, Australia, where he asked Aussies whether they thought God still spoke or not. Sabahat Ali travelled across Silicon Valley – what many consider the social media tech hub of the world – to ask professionals in the business districts of San Jose and San Francisco as well as students of Stanford and San Jose State University about their belief in God, challenging them on their beliefs using the arguments from Ahmadiyya Literature.
Some Unique Segments
This year’s summit also featured three married couples from three different continents (titled, ‘Marriage: The Classroom for Learning the Love of Allah’). We asked them how their faith impacts their married life in various ways. Through the laughs and quintessential pauses of husbands trying to remember how long they’ve been married, the appreciation of how their love for God increased their love for each other and vice-versa shined brightly through, and the segment proved a wholesome one.
While in his segment, Mansoor Dahri explained in linguistic detail the history and profound philosophy of God’s name in various languages, Fazal Ahmad took audiences on an adventure through the belief systems of some ancient tribes and showcased the amazing commonalities that existed among them about the belief in One God despite their having never met one another.
Mujeeb Ijaz, an American CEO, sat front and centre in a YouTuber-style interview segment called ‘5 Questions with a CEO about God’, where he explained that his faith – far from impeding his progress – has been pivotal in propelling him forward to becoming a national leader in his industry.
A live Q&A Segment hosted by Sarmad Naveed was also featured on day one of the summit. Maulana Azhar Haneef and Sabahat Ali joined as panellists to answer questions sent in to The Review of Religions by the global viewership. Similarly, a special live segment was also featured from the UK. Imam Usman Butt was joined by Abdul Quddus Arif as a panellist to answer questions about the most searched things about God on the internet.
The End & the Beginning
Of course, it’s well-nigh impossible to capture the real magic of this momentous occasion guided and then graced by His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), in a single report. This was barely a snapshot of just some of the many segments that made up the summit. For the rest, you really do have to watch the stories to understand and witness for yourself the whole genius of it.
The heart-wrenching anecdote of Abdul Waheed Warraich, a mountaineer who climbed the nine highest peaks of the world to hoist the flag of faith on every corner, the soul-warming tales of Rafiyq Friend in Philadelphia whose experiences will leave you gobsmacked and eager to make God your close and personal friend, the absolutely uplifting strength and perseverance of Fasihuddin Malik who, at a young age, had to make the decision to crumble under the pressure of trauma or rise valiantly above it; the illuminating account of Maria Isabel of Spain who searched for God everywhere but found him in the secret world of prostration.
There’s still so much more that I haven’t even mentioned, but which – if you haven’t already – you really must go and experience for yourself. It’s all there on The Review of Religions’ YouTube channel. We look forward to seeing you there.
After all, it’s true what they say:
Seeing is believing.
About the Author: Sabahat Ali Rajput is an imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Silicon Valley, USA. He serves as a member of the editorial board and is also editor of The Existence Project for The Review of Religions.