Home / News / Community Affairs / Muslim at Prom?

Muslim at Prom?

Just one night?Believe it or not, the very fact Islam stands against ideas like prom and excessive gender mixing should be a source of pride for Muslims. Unfortunately, when many Muslims explain to others why they won’t attend prom, they murmur something like “It’s against my religion” and act like they’ve committed a crime. Have we really stopped to consider that we are servants of Allah and that standing firm in our faith is our duty? So often it is treated like a choice, as if there is anything compelling in committing sins openly.Just one night?Dancing with a boy while wearing Hijab seems inconceivable. At least it used to be. With the ushering in of a new, more liberal version of Islam in the West, the number of teenage Muslims attending events like prom has increased substantially. Many in our community fall victim to peer pressure and give in to this multimillion dollar business of selling clothes, accessories, makeup, food, alcohol, and limo services.

There is something about prom that is so fundamentally problematic that we as Muslims shouldn’t even consider attending such events. Many brothers and sisters who do attend will attempt to justify their attendance with statements like “It’s just one night”, “I won’t do something stupid, like dance”, or “I’ll still be wearing my Hijab with my dress”. Giving credit where due, it really is just one night: one night where we choose to forget Allah and our values in order to gain a superficial acceptance by “them”.

A little part of me dies when I see a beautiful, pious sister doling herself out as eye candy for the entire high school to see. It is very possible that in the midst of the high school fever, some of us will lose touch with reality. Come on now, you don’t drink, dance, or date, so why do you want to go to prom? Also, why are your friends who are attending pressuring you into going? This stands as a testament that maybe, just maybe, they are unable to respect your beliefs.

Believe it or not, the very fact Islam stands against ideas like prom and excessive gender mixing should be a source of pride for Muslims. Unfortunately, when many Muslims explain to others why they won’t attend prom, they murmur something like “It’s against my religion” and act like they’ve committed a crime. Have we really stopped to consider that we are servants of Allah and that standing firm in our faith is our duty? So often it is treated like a choice, as if there is anything compelling in committing sins openly. In reality, those who protect themselves from corruption gain nobility in the eyes of God.

On a micro level, a couple of Muslims attending prom doesn’t hurt anyone. Or does it? Adamantly sinning and going against any morals is indeed corrosive to the soul of the person who takes part in the event. However, on a larger level, it leads to the watering down of religion. Personal accountability is eliminated, and it gives us the mindset that because everyone else is doing it, it’s okay or “less wrong”.

When sisters who wear Hijab attend such gatherings, they are also betraying the sanctity of their religious garb. Sure, they managed to find a long sleeved dress at David’s Bridal and found a matching yellow Hijab, along with the best makeup 30 dollars could buy. But by basking in these superficialities, they go against the statement that their Hijab should make. By attending a gathering where music and dancing is found, they are taking away from their own self respect. Yes, we know, you’re only going there to sit down on the chair and watch your friends party…right, sister? While that may be your intention, be prepared to have guys come tell you how “gorgeous” you look, and ask you to slow dance. Why would they do that you ask? By attending prom, you are giving off a certain perception of yourself and inviting such comments and suggestions, and whether or not it is true doesn’t really matter to those around you.

Although it seems like something obscure to many of us, gatherings such as prom can be defined as a test of the boundaries our community is willing to set. What is a good time? Trust me, no time can ever be “good” in which Allah is being disobeyed. The timing of prom is even more pressing – it comes just as many of us are transitioning into a new phase of our lives. Just as we grow older, our faith must grow with us. Indeed, how we as individual families and as a greater community tackle issues like prom, dances, and gender mixing will be indicators of how we seek to reconcile Islam and popular culture in the West.

About Huda Jawad

Check Also

Beating Summertime Boredom Starts With Parents

Often parents these days think the only way to beat boredom is to surround your …

Surah al-Insaan: The Family Who Fasted For Three Days

I want you to think of an act of charity or generosity that has inspired …

  • ALi Jai Faison

    As-salaamu Alaykum wa rahmatullah! The prom is fundamental to America’s High School experience. It is a social networking system to allow children a chance to see what adults do at larger gatherings. This is America! We cannot expect to send our children into the den of wolves and expect them not to be eaten or at least nibbled at. We rant and rave about American ways that are questionable and often times purely evil, yet we come to this country and establish home for ourselves and our children. we mix with Americans, not for the purpose of dawah, but for the purpose of peace and blending. What do we expect? If you did not come here for dawah and change, then you will be changed. Check your home! I’ll bet that your world of Al-Islam is changing right before your very eyes. The key to the future is our children and they are not being heavily influenced by us, but by someone and something else. Make hijrah if it is too hot in the kitchen! Get out while you still have some essence of Al-Islam left in you and your household.

  • minimadmonkey

    Yes, we must mix with Americans Bro. Ali, but not at the expense of our prior commitments to Allah swt and our own souls.

  • .

    Ali, imagine the Prophet had this idea of not introducing Islamic principles for the sake of fitting in. We would not have any Islam! The society he was sent to was the worst. His method of doing ‘dawah’ was not to just tell people what they wanted to hear. More importantly, the Prophet told people what they SHOULD hear.

    There’s no excuse for Muslims going to proms. Sister Huda is right!

  • Ali K

    They call it the ‘formal’ down here in Australia. It’s getting more stupid by the year.

  • Sadiq M.

    Ahsant!

    Great article. I have noticed this trend within many (Shia) communities too.

    InshAllah we can begin to wake up.

  • fkarimah

    This was an insightful article about modern problems Muslim families face in society.
    I’m a seamstress for these formal shops. I just do the work for whomever needs fitting for their ‘gala’ and have not had to deal with Muslims in my town.
    Actually, they have no impact on the community. You wouldn’t even know that there were Muslims here, although there is a mosque, they all stick together with their own nationality. This is one of the problems with modern Islam in USA. No connection with ‘other than themselves”. I’m new here in this town and going to the mosque is an ‘experience’ of which I’d rather not have to go through. No outward friendship is extended to me, the new comer.
    So, I sew and make a living, am alone with my Islam in a new town and read about the dilemmas Muslim families have with their everyday life. BUT,Who’s to blame for the lack of tawhid with the Muslim today in America? These kids go to school, accept others and try to blend in. But if the Muslim community doesn’t offer alternatives, then what can you expect???
    This is what needs to be contemplated on.

  • ~55

    I breifly remeber an article written last year, I think writen by islam.org, about a group of New York Muslim girls who started their own prom. But rather than the typical prom, it was only for sisters to enjoy their graudation. Not only did Muslims girls attend, but many conservative christians and jewish girls were in attendence as well. Rather than forbid our children from such forums, lets find solutions.

    I agree Ali that events like these have many benefits. So lets find out what all those benefits are, and mold them into an environment that more Muslim freindly…..

  • JH

    Most “alternative” proms still have music and such. Why do Muslims have this inferiority complex where we HAVE to copy everyone else? What happened to a little originality?

  • :-S

    I did not see any mention of Muslim “brothers” in this article. Is attending the prom cool for them? Why do we always pick on the “sisters”?

  • Batool Jafri

    I agree, for some reason a lot of Muslim guys get free passes to go to these types of events from their parents & community members while their sisters do not. So with that logic, it’s not okay to be a Muslim girl who gets hit on and disrespected by guys, but on the contrary it’s okay for Muslim guys to be those disgusting, disrespectful ‘players’ who hit on someone elses sister. And that’s not to say that this is the opinion of the author or anything, but this is just a common trend we find in our very messed-up communities.

  • Maysa

    Salaams,

    as much as i agree with this article, the one thing i noticed was the double standard that our religion portrays. The article focuses on how the sisters should not go to prom but we need to emphasize the brothers as well.

  • Sidra Abbas

    I don’t understand the whole frenzy about Prom. I’ve been pressured many times to go to it as well. And I tell my friends, you know I don’t dance, nor do I drink, nor do I have a boyfriend, nor am I going to waste money for a DJ or food. And likewise, most of them are in the same situation as me, YET they’ve been brainwashed into thinking they HAVE to go to Prom. Its their LAST day together with their friends. More like last day to dance for 3 hours and pay a fortune for food that may not even be halal. Seriously, on a nice summer days like these, I wouldn’t want to be cooped up in a dark room full of people who may possibly be drunk. If Prom is meant to be so great, then why does the agenda only include dancing? Why not have some fun activities that the [i]entire [/i]student body can enjoy?
    But definitely the media is to blame. It’s funny because some of my friends are like, Prom’s so great, Prom’s this Prom’s that.. but have they ever been to Prom?

    My rants over.!

    MashAllah Thanks Sister Huda for writing about this, it really needed to be addressed.

  • MagicHijabi

    Granted the author could’ve made the brothers look more like the fools they are. However, they’re a lost cause anyway lol.

    Wait, so does the validity of the article decrease if it focuses on sisters? It was written by a sister and I’m sure she sees it more from the view point of a girl who may have had friends attend etc.

    The author did say “Brothers and Sisters” a few times….

  • Mujahid

    Salam. Thanks for sharing your thoughts sister.

    In response to some of the comments, I think its important to remember that the word American is a nationality and not a religion. There are Muslims who have no ties to any country other than America. This is an Islam versus kufr issue…not an Islam verses America issue. Many Americans who are Christian and Jewish are also against the practices of fusuq which are condemned by the previous messengers of Allah (as) as well.

  • Muhammad

    Islam is not a meaningless tag that we carry around with us, and flaunt only when it’s convenient (and conversely hide when it isn’t!). To be a Muslims means to upholds certain principles and values. Any half-serious human being realises that a life without values and principles is a total waste of time.

    Let us not, on the pretext of ‘integrating’ or ‘adapting to the new environment’, conclude that the principles for which we ought to stand are some cheap goods on the market up for barter.

    Islam is not for sale!

  • 4

    i unfortunately made a bad decision in my high school years and attended both my proms. the whole time i was there, although i was ‘having a good time’ but a little voice in my head kept on comming in and out saying ‘ what on earth are you doing here?!’ yet i chose to ignore it. now thinking back 2 years, i do remorsly regret attending, and i thank Allah s.w for guiding me from that moment up until today. its amazing how much an individual can change and grow mentally and spiritually in such a short period of time.

    and although i had friends that would have been very understanding if i did not attend, being young and naive i decided to go any way because i wanted so bad ‘to fit in’ and now the whole world and its purpose makes a whole lot of sence to me and i would never concider attending such things again!

    thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Zain

    I think it all comes down to what you believe your limits are. If you know for sure that your going to prom will result in something haram then you shouldn’t go. But if you trust yourself not to do wrong, then go. My prom consisted of a lot of stuff, it had dancing etc, but it also had games and shows which are not haram in Islam. If you know you wont be doing the haram stuff there and are only going to hang out with your friends and play games, then there should be no problem with it. But it is you has to decide, no one else can or should decide for you. But you have to be honest to yourself and always keep God in mind.
    This article however seems to be saying: no, you will inevitably commits acts of haram if you go to prom. I think it depends on the nature of your prom, for example, at my prom if was possible to avoid haram. And more importantly it depends on yourself because if you don’t have a strong hold on your beliefs and don’t relate to the values of Islam then you will be in trouble not only at prom, but throughout life.

  • RE: Zain

    Yes brother, we must be honest with ourselves and know our limits, but we must also apply common sense. For example, you were able to avoid the dancing/etc. aspect of prom, but don’t tell me you put on earplugs and blocked out the music. 🙂

    Secondly, it’s not just about boycotting “prom”, it’s about standing up against and avoiding the kind of decadence and forgetfulness towards God that such events symbolize.

  • minimadmonkey

    Admittedly, thought regrettably, prom is a part of American culture.

    The Apostle of Allah SWT was able to change the pre-Islamic pagan hajj into one of the most beautiful and important AND mandatory acts that we can perform in our lifetimes. Of course the Prophet AS discarded all parts of the old hajj that did not conform to Allah SWT’s laws.

    Perhaps we can do the same with prom, because ignoring it doesn’t solve the problem.

  • Batool Jafri

    Salaam,
    When I was in high school (just last year) and prom was coming around the corner, the only talk I could hear for about 3 straight weeks was about which date my friends were going to take. Apparently who your date is for prom is a huge deal because it decides how much “fun” your really going to have that night. Everyone knows what prom is all about; yeah it’s about “being with your friends for one last time” but in the end the stuff that matters is how drunk your going to get, or whether your going to hook up with that one person you’ve wanted to be with since freshmen year. It’s completely unIslamic and against Islams core beliefs and values. If one major aspect of prom is about “getting some”, I honestly don’t see how we could possibly convert it to something less haraam. We have better things to be converting anyways, like the inner cities and slums of America. Let’s try to focus our efforts towards more important and effective things, prom, in my opinion, is a lost cause & we should do our best to keep our kids, siblings & friends away from it.

  • minimadmonkey

    I see what you are saying, and I know where you are coming from. I also recall similar attitudes to that which you mention. However, I do recall distinctly that there were quite a few students who were quite unhappy with the situation. At least at my high school, I can safely say there were a substantial number of people who went to the prom just because it was what everyone else is doing, least of all because they wanted to. There were various reasons cited why they did not desire to do so. As to the question whether prom lived up to their expectations, I cannot say for sure, but I don’t recall it being a part of conversations for more than a day or so afterwards, if at all. I like to think everyone who goes realizes that it is not “what its cracked up to be.”
    I understand that prom may be a lost cause, but there are only three things you can do about it. Ignore it, try to expunge it, or try to change what it stands for. This is aside from taking part in it, of course! It is in my opinion, that prom cannot be expunged from American culture, and that ignoring it will not make it go away or decrease its negative influence on society. It must be changed from within.

  • SM

    With all due respect, the Hajj analogy you use is incorrect. Hajj was not a “pagan tradition” that was “Islamified”, as you allude; rather, Hajj was the tradition of Prophet Ibrahim [as] which was corrupted by the Arabs, and the Holy Prophet [saww] simply removed those un-Islamic elements from it. The point being: yes, it was possibly to “change” Hajj, but only because it was rooted in monotheism and was in essence a good act that had been [b]externally corrupted[/b].

    On the contrary, an event such as prom is centered around peer pressure, wastefulness, and decadence, begins with music, dancing, and inappropriate mixing of the genders, and culminates with alcohol, drugs, and (more often than not) inappropriate sexual relations. Do you have any idea how many girls doll up and beautify themselves for this (supposedly) most important event of their lives, only to end up drinking too much afterward and being raped or forced into performing unwanted sexual acts? The statistics will shock you, my friend! Of course our sisters who attend these events would not partake in such behavior, but my point is that prom by [b]its essence[/b] is the epitome of moral depravity and symbolizes everything that is wrong with Western culture. For that reason, we must boycott it. Furthermore, I fail to see how you propose that we “change” it.

    Instead, our communities need to provide alternatives to events like prom. When the local high school is hosting its prom, perhaps the very same night our communities can organize a “Girls’ Night”, featuring Qur’an recitation contests, Hijab fashion shows, games, movies, and various other “Halal” alternatives. In fact, if it becomes an annual tradition, I bet you could even get some non-Muslims (who are uncomfortable with the idea of “prom”) to send their kids to our alternative event! Talk about a great Da’wah opportunity! 😀

  • minimadmonkey

    I am really sorry :sad:. I totally missed/forgot/disregarded that important detail about Hajj I hope was born from ignorance and not malice/mischief. You are absolutely right, prom is intrinsically sinful while Hajj was cleansed of the impure elements. But still, I did sense a lot people who got sheeped into going to prom last year, and continue to do so. Even as we speak, there are people,muslims, shias, who will attend prom and related events.
    I do like the idea of planning alternate events to compete with prom, but such an idea is so new, but in retrospect, sort of obvious, and I have not seen it implemented yet, or even talked about, until now. Thanks for the heads up about Hajj, and I sincerely apologize if my earlier comment causes confusion. Perhaps it could be expunged because people do not usually read every comment.

  • Warsi

    yes whats wrong in prom & dancing??? 😀

    mr Ali before Islam everything was same like today in the west…why do you want to go back to the old era?????they are limiting clothes on the body like we used to have in stone age….again you ll say whats wrong in that????my question will be why are you going back in the old era????

    Prophet could have easily be mixed with the kuffar & naozobillah dancing n everything but no He didn’t….if your not a Muslim then be happy to do all…but if you are then nobody can force to stop but plz don’t put your intellect & APPROVE it for All Muslims just becoz u like it…

  • Aliyah

    I dont see why not!! Im a muslimm, I wear a hijab with my dress and I will not dance. I have strong feelings about my beliefs and dont think its haram as it’s a day with school. In my school there will be no alcohol, drugs or anything else since we’re only 15-16.

  • Nabeel

    very well written, and so true! iA more people will follow!!

  • Christian Dude Looking for A Good Laugh

    … This article just made my day..

    LOL!

    • sulmaz

      im glad you enjoyed it

    • Izzy

      It’s funny cause the article’s not for you. You don’t even have the basic fundamentals of Islam. It’s a way of life, not just a religion. Go educate yourself in different religions before reading articles like this.

      Gosh, you’re just like the majority who can’t view other societies and populations in a positive/neutral way. Always making judgments based on your own perspectives!

      Whatever, laugh all you want. Nobody gives anyway.

  • Abbas

    What’s so funny about it?

  • sulmaz

    When I was in highschool the muslims girls got together and we had a prom at our friends house, there were not only muslim girls there but many conservative christian, jewish and a few indian girls as well

    alhamdullilah it was quite fun and halal 🙂

  • Noor

    Assalaamu ‘alaykum

    While I understand the point of view in this article, and agree to it in some parts, I’d like to say that I went to prom and truly do not see this vast amount of harm that is discussed in this article and comments. I am a practicing Muslimah. I wore my hijaab, light makeup and a full covering dress. I did not dance, and only one guy asked me to dance and that was because he thought that I had no one to dance with, thereby thinking he’d do me a favor by dancing with me. All except one of my friends had gone stag (meaning they were all single and didn’t go to prom with a boy), so our night was spent amongst ourselves, not having much to do with the other haraamness that might ensue. The author discusses the problem of music. All of those that suggest the alternative of having a strictly girls-only prom and/or party, do you imagine for there to be no music at such an event? How distanced is music from the average American teenage Muslim in today’s day and age, really? As far as the dolling up and makeup is concerned, is that not what many of us encourage on our daughter’s wedding day? Sure, prom is NOTHING like a woman’s wedding day, but it’s the same concept of beautifying yourself in often an extravagant way where non-mahram eyes will fall upon you. As long as things are done with moderation, I see no wrong. I am not saying that music and extravagant dressing up in front of non-mahrams is okay, but I’m trying to show that prom isn’t too disconnected with our own cultural customs, in the first place.

    • .R.

      I’m a bit confused, Sister: if you didn’t dance, you went stag, you spent all your time with girls, you didn’t have “much to do with the other haraamness that might ensue”, then why did you choose to go to prom at all? If I can do something in a halal setting versus an inappropriate setting, then why go out of my way to choose the inappropriate one?

      You mentioned that “prom isn’t too disconnected with our own cultural customs”…but that doesn’t make it any less haram. Instead, we should be working to lead ourselves away from these haram cultural activities.

      You know what’s right and wrong, seeing that you said music and extravagant dressing up in front of non-mahrams is obviously not okay…then we shouldn’t be supporting such things with our presence at events which are blaring with music and everyone is all dolled up! After all, we wouldn’t say that it’s okay to hang out at a bar as long as we don’t drink 😛 In addition to the haram actions themselves, it’s the haram environment as a whole that Muslims cannot be a part of.

      Ma’Salam.

    • @hanhan

      Wa alaikum salam wa rahmatullah,
      When you said “How distanced is music from the average American teenage Muslim in today’s day and age, really”, that is quite correct. It seems many nowadays muslim teenagers in America do listen to haram music unfortunately, but just because perhaps the majority of them do, doesn’t mean we can just say nothing and permit it. We’re not going to force them to stop of course, but we have to advise them gently and correctly. Your also right that for weddings the bride almost always in nearly every culture dresses up, wears make-up, etc. but this shouldn’t be seen by non-mahram men, so perhaps that would be fine in a separated wedding. Though nowadays I’ve seen muslims who get married and in their wedding they wear hijab, but still its very beautiful and they have lots of makeup on… OF COURSE though its great that on the wedding day she makes herself beautiful and all that, but just one must make sure those who are non-mahram don’t see it. 🙂
      Haraam can’t be commited in moderation – and you (you?) don’t see wrong? None of us are the ones to see wrong or right…that’s where Islam and fiqh comes in.
      And yes you’ve proved, and its true, that prom isn’t too disconnected with cultural customs, but we’re supposed to live our life by Islam, not by our culture whether it be pakistani, american, iranian, arab, etc. Islam should be our culture – wow that would be amazing, then no more cultural barriers! (like there are in many muslim communities unforunately) 🙁
      Wassalam, and please keep us in your du’a 🙂

  • hanhan

    guys shut up!
    if following islam means missing out on life then i wouldn’t be a muslim,okay
    prom is a social experience for gods sake and i find it stupid that whoever we muslims see something we don’t like we just treat it with no respect,i mean many proms don’t serve alcohol plus they have teachers around to chaperone.im a muslim and if i wanna go to prom then i fucking go to prom cos i know my limits and i know theres a world out there with good and bad stuff but no matter what I’m gonna live in that world .

    • hmm

      Very classy. And excellent priorities.

    • @hanhan

      Missing out on a prom is missing out on life?
      It’s not appropriate for a muslim to go to a prom with the dancing and music, etc. even if s/he him/herself won’t actually be doing it. Can one imagine a true helper/lover of Imam (aj) going to a prom/dance? I don’t think so, because that’s something that they would not do. And we want to aim to be among those people, right? Proms, as well as other things/gatherings with haram activites, may have some small good things in them, but those don’t matter much because the bad in them outweighs the good by much. Yes, it is a social experience, but not a correct one. They may have teachers around and may not serve alchohol, but still that doesn’t really help – there’s still dancing and music which is like the one of the main things people go for as far as I know, in addition to the social part. Aside from that, I’ve heard bad things about proms from someone who had gone to one…as in they have VERY inappropriate dances going on. That just makes it even worse, let alone its even not good in the first place whether or not the dances be that way or another.

      Imam Sadiq [a] said: “He who seeks the company of those who insult the lovers of Allah has surely disobeyed Him, the Sublime.”
      Imam Amir-ul-Mu’mineen Ali [a] said: “O’ Kumayl! Say what is just in any condition. Be friends with the righteous and avoid the evil doers, stay away from the hypocrites and do not accompany the treacherous.

      • person

        Sorry, I was trying to +1 this post, not give it a -1! :O

    • @hanhan

      And as.R nicely put it, Muslims can not be part of haram environments, such as a prom as well as many other things. It might make life hard, especially living in a non-muslim country, but life isn’t meant to be easy and fun. And in hard/easy times, we always have One who will help those who ask, and is INFINITELY merciful, yet we don’t even realize it. There’s a hadith about how there will be a time when the muslims will take parts of Islam and leave others, lets make sure were not among those and let’s take Islam as a WHOLE. If we are muslims then we believe in the sayings and guidance of Allah (swt) and his Prophet (saw), and if we believe in them in regards to all of life as a whole, then why don’t we follow them? 🙁
      If Allah (swt) tells us don’t go to haram environments, then just don’t even if your friends think weird of you or something like that. Peer pressure is a really influencing thing for sure. If we want to truly live life to its fullest, then we must follow the guidance of Allah (swt), and that is the only way. Disobeying Allah (swt) would be the true “missing-out-on-life” experience, not the opposite.
      Let’s also watch our language please…if the prophet (saw) was around us would we use angry words and cussing? He may not be physically present, but Allah (swt), even Higher, is present.

  • Fahimah

    Salaamun Alaikum jami’an, 🙂
    I’ve seen some say stuff like “Islam is way too strict!” or, “Its just one night, im sure Allah (swt) wont put me in Hell for going to a prom once….if He would then I won’t worship a God like that!”
    We need to get over the whole “let me do what I MYSELF want”
    and the “I dont like being told what to do!” mentality. We should thank God we’ve been told by Him what to do cause if we weren’t told (naudhobillah) then I can’t imagine what would happen to mankind!
    AND, Ameeril Mumineen (as), the CLOSEST ONE (along with Fatimah (as)) to Allah (swt) after the Prophet (saw), and here is what he said:
    “The greatest sin is one, the doer of which considers it little.”
    This negates the “its just one night” statement. 🙂
    Wassalam, nasalakom al-dua

  • Pingback: Muslim Girls' Only Prom in Detroit Is Our Future - Victory Girls Blog()