Aha! moments from Oprah, Pastor Rick Warren and the Qur’an

I’ll admit it. I have always been a big fan of Oprah Winfrey. Growing up, I remember faithfully watching
her show every day after school (after my cartoons ended, of course) and admiring the compassion she
showed her guests and the personal struggles she candidly shared with her loyal viewers. So when the
opportunity came to attend a taping of her “Lifeclass” show in Houston, I snagged it. The icing on the
cake? Pastor Rick Warren was her guest.
Yes, I realize that Pastor Rick is Christian, and well, I am not, but I was familiar enough with his work to
know that much of the spiritual advice he dispenses to his Christian followers resonates with Muslims as
well. In fact, his book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” is the best-selling non-fiction hardback in history. So it
was with anticipation and excitement that I entered the Hobby Center last Friday afternoon to watch the
show.

The topic for this Lifeclass was “Playing the Hand You’re Dealt.” According to Warren, the “hand” refers to
the five “life cards” God gives out to each human being, , with only one being in our control. These cards
are as follows:

1) Chemistry – Your biology; the body and health you have been given. We are all
intentionally “flawed” to make us unique.

2) Connections – The relationships you have with others. Studies show that self-esteem is determined
by what you believe the most important person in your life thinks about you. Make God the most
important in your life.

3) Circumstances – What life throws at you. We allow this card to have far too much power over us.
God can give you the power to rise above your circumstances.

4) Consciousness – The story you tell yourself. The way you think affects the way you feel and the
way you feel, in turn, affects how you behave. Change your thoughts to change the way you feel.

5) Choices – The wildcard that can change the others. We have the freedom to choose what we think,
feel, say and do.

Some of these cards will be good and some will inevitably be bad. The point, Pastor Warren said, is to
understand and accept that God gave you this particular hand to shape you into the best person you
could be. So don’t waste time yearning to have the cards of someone else who you are convinced is
living a “better” life than you.

I found this spiritual paradigm interesting because God discusses a similar concept in the Holy Qur’an.

“It is We [God] Who portion out between them their livelihood in the life of this world: and We raise some of them above others in ranks, so that some may command work from others. But the Mercy of thy Lord is
better than the (wealth) which they amass.” –Qur’an (Chapter 43, Verse 32)

There were many other “aha” moments during the class, so much so that Oprah claimed she had
reached “aha moment exhaustion!” I found myself reminded of the countless similarities between Islam
and Christianity through these moments. A few of Pastor Warren’s gems that I could easily relate to my
own faith included:
“If you expect heaven on earth, you are going to be severely disappointed.”
Muslims believe that our life on this earth is a test and our beliefs and actions here determine whether we
reach true Paradise after death.

“As for the life of this world, it is nothing but a frolic and frivolity. The final abode is the best for those who are pious and fear God. Do you not comprehend?” -Qur’an (Chapter 6: Verse 32)

“You have to go to God to find your purpose because He is the Creator.”
As Muslims, we are told only to look to God for guidance and approval, not anyone else in our lives.

“And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose.Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things,” –Qur’an (Chapter 65: Verse 3)

“No matter how bad your life is, there is always something you can thank God for.”

“It is He Who has spread out the earth for (His) creatures:
Therein is fruit and date-palms, producing spathes (enclosing dates);
Also corn, with (its) leaves and stalk for fodder, and sweet-smelling plants.
Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?”
-Qur’an (Chapter 10: Verse 13)

“God is more interested in your character than your career.”

“The most complete in faith are those best in their character, those who are easy to socialize with, and those who get along with others and others get along with them. There is no good in the one who cannot get along with others and others cannot get along with him.” (This was said by Prophet Muhammad. Al-
Tirmidhi, Sahih)

“You can waste your life. You can spend your life. Or you can invest your life. The best use of your life is to invest it in that which will outlast it. Invest it in serving others. And that’s what it means to live a purpose-driven life.”

This last quote really struck home with me because the Qur’an reiterates again and again the goal of life
here on Earth. Our purpose, as individuals and as humanity, is to worship God and live in a manner that
is pleasing to Him, which, as the Qur’an and Hadith remind us, includes serving others.

“Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your
wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death”

(This was said by Prophet Muhammad. Al Hakim, Sahih).

By the end of the program, tears had been shed, “hallelujahs” were cried out, and souls were opened up to the possibility of living for something more in this life. I, along with the majority female audience, left the show that day with a renewed sense of purpose and much spiritual food for thought. Aha overload indeed!
Wardah Khalid is the author of the Young American Muslim blog for the “Houston Chronicle” and a published columnist in the paper’s Belief section. Her blog offers a “fresh perspective on Islam today” regarding local, national, and international issues and are regularly published in other media outlets, including the Huffington Post. Wardah resides in Houston where she practices as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Follow her on Twitter @YAmericanMuslim

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