Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Yusuf Islam Interview

Apologies if you had tuned in to MHI on Thursday morning for the exclusive interview with Yusuf Islam. Rest assured that on one was as disappointed as I was when we got the news that Sheikh Yusuf was really unwell that morning and could not make it to TV3. It was really hard for me to focus on the show that day after receiving the news.

But the MHI team worked really hard to re-arrange the interview, and by the same evening, I was asked to standby to interview him at any time at a different location.

By 6pm, I was told that it was really happening later that night. It was then time to re-focus mentally and go through the questions once again.

The interview took place at the hotel he was staying and I got there about an hour earlier to go through things over with the producer.

And right on time at 10.30pm, Yusuf arrived together with his wife and friends. My first impression was that the man had a calming presence with a great aura. And yes, I was a bit star struck.

...The interview went smoothly, but due to the limited time allocated (from a production standpoint), I had to skip several questions I had earlier prepared.

...Yusuf was an attentive interviewee, always looking me in the eye and replying my questions with great clarity and thought. I also sensed a great openness and acceptance on his part in his viewpoints, something I would elaborate further some time soon.
The interview was aired the very next morning on MHI, and I will post the link once it's up on tonton, but here are some questions I asked him off-camera:
Q: You shared the same stage with Ozzy Osbourne during Jon Stewart's Rally for Sanity in Washington recently. What was that like?
A: I love Ozzy! His songs are hard and loud, but they always have messages, don't they?
Q: Is there a side of Yusuf Islam the performer we haven't seen yet?
A: I don't know if there's yet another side to me, but I hope to get better and better always. Insya Allah.
Indeed, it was a very memorable experience. It was such a great honour talking to a man, icon, who has impacted the Muslim world through his humanitarian efforts as well as his music. And the great news is, it was his promise that he will return to Malaysia soon!

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