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.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.