“After studies, in that time it was very difficult to find a job. So I had no job—jobless around two to three years. So I was feeling very bad at that time. After two years, Allah heard my prayer. The Islamic Center here said we want you to be Imam of this mosque. God heard my prayer. I got a letter that said they had received my application form and ‘next month I’ll call you for an interview.’ When I saw the letter I said, ‘Insha’Allah, I will get this job.’ This was only an interview letter but I thought, ‘I will get this job!’ And in the interview, he said, ‘I want you now. I want you to be Imam of this Mosque.’ I felt very happy. In my two years, Allah has heard my voice, my prayers.”

I met Imam Mohamed Lutfi Syahwan in Pekan, Malaysia when my producer and friend, Rokman, and I came upon a most beautiful mosque, The Sultan Ahmad I Mosque.  Imam Mohamed Lutfi Syahwan was 30 years old when I interviewed him, already with 5 years of experience. He was an amazingly warm and humble young man who seemed to be at once both a young man grateful to have a job like any 30 year old and, at the same time, an an old soul with a profound depth and message about faith. When it came time to make the Imam’s portrait, he was excited to show me where he stands during Friday prayers to make his speech and where even the Sultan will listen to him preach. As we parted ways after the wonderful interview, he asked me a question I never expected to hear — Are you on Facebook?!!  Hence, for me meeting the Imam was an interview of extremes: of old and new, of far away and close, of distant and intimate.