Top Menu

Ben Youcef: The Hollywood Actor Who Gives the Call to Prayer


NPR has a story on a Muslim actor from Algeria who gives a sonorous rendition of the Islamic call to prayer (Adhan) three times a week at his mosque; many come just to hear his voice.

For the next year, NPR will take a musical journey across America, which is one of the most religiously diverse countries on earth. We want to discover and celebrate the many ways in which people make spiritual music — individually and collectively, inside and outside houses of worship.

It is said, in Los Angeles, that Abdulwahab Benyoucef’s call to prayer is so lovely and so clarion that Muslims come to the mosque just to hear him. About three times a week, the Algerian actor — who has shortened his name to Ben Youcef — comes here in his traditional tunic to stand before the men kneeling toward Mecca. He closes his eyes, holds one hand over his ear, leans into a microphone and sings out the Arabic words in extended phrases.

“It’s a way to call people to come to worship God,” Ben Youcef says. “That’s the purpose of the adhan [the Arabic name for call to prayer]. I bear witness that there’s no God except God. I bear witness that Muhammad is a messenger of God. Come to what’s good, come to prayer.”

In his other life, the 34-year-old Ben Youcef is one of Hollywood’s A-list Muslim actors. Lately, because of his complexion, he’s been getting more and more generic ethnic roles. “Because in commercials,” he says, “a lot of times I’m actually playing a Latin guy or an ethnically ambiguous guy.”

While the story is feel-good it does oddly descend into a bit of Orientalism. For some reason writer John Burnett could not type up an article on a Muslim without including a reference to “Aladdin.”

Ben Youcef, with his Aladdin-like good looks and mellifluous voice, has the goal of becoming Hollywood’s most recognizable Arab actor — the next Omar Sharif — just so long, he says, as he can remain true to Islam.

, , , , , , , , , ,

  • rookie

    Church Jihad.

  • Heinz Catsup


  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Yes not nearly as harmful. I think Mooneye was right to point it out as an insight into certain cultural mentalities and views of the others through the lens of pop-culture.

  • yassine

    Lovely Adhan!

  • moraka

    No it was the laste 1990s or early 2000

  • Tanveer Khan

    Was it done in 1967?

  • moraka

    Someone did that once

  • Javed Asghar

    What does it say about US education that adults need to be taught that fictional characters aren’t real?

  • Sodium

    According to the latest issue of Time Magazine, Aladin has never lived, along with other 99 characters, ranging from Aladin to Gatsby to Tarazan to Merchant of Venice etc….Check the last issue of Time Magazine for the other 96 characters I could not remember their names, even if I tried.

  • mindy1

    OMG he truly has a gifted voice-that is a beautiful clip. Love that it’s an interfaith service :)

  • CriticalDragon1177

    At least those stereotypes aren’t anywhere near as harmful as the stereotype that all Muslims are terrorists or the myth that Muslims in are a fifth column working to overthrow legitimately elected governments.

  • Tanveer Khan

    I think someone should do a Chinese Aladdin film. That would be awesome.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    I highly doubt a Chinese actor would be described as “Aladdin-like”.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    According to Wikipedia, “Although Aladdin is a Middle Eastern tale, the story is set in China, and Aladdin is explicitly Chinese.” (Yes, there is an underlying source and it supports that.)

    Anyway, no matter how one defines Ben Youcef’s looks, I thought his voice was awesome.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Haha, at least he restrained himself from talking about magic jinni lamp or flying carpets.

  • mindy1

    I need a youtube clip to hear him-please post. I wish him luck.

Powered by Loon Watchers