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Prom Night – Is it really OK for Muslims to go to the Prom?

By June 7, 2019Muslim Parenting

For some Muslims, prom night and dating are complicated topics — there is  dancing between genders, the implication of alcohol and sex, and revealing dresses. For others, it’s not so big of a deal. What’s your view? I want to take a deeper look at the whole issue and what effect, going to “The Prom” has on our kids education and their Islam.

The Prom Distraction

Is your child having a stressful final year at high school? Working hard? Spending hours researching subjects. It seems like they’ve got their priorities straight and you should be very pleased with them. But what if, they aren’t trawling through quadratic equations or researching genetic engineering and rather they’re agonising over what prom dress/suit to buy or spending hours on Pinterest looking at hairstyles. Are you OK with that? As a high school teacher and Muslim parent I am livid about it!

Why are our kids, who will be sitting their GCSEs this year, dedicating so much time and energy to a frivolous party? Unfortunately, our children have been duped into thinking prom is this magical evening- the night when geeks become beauty queens and 16-year-old girls feel like Kylie Jenner sauntering down the red carpet with all eyes on them! That’s how the movies tell it to them. Unheard of in Britain 15 years ago, the prom is now the glamorous ‘highlight’ of the year for thousands of school-leavers. Over the top ‘passing out’ celebrations for Year 11 students (aged 15-16) and Year 13 (aged 17-18) have become the norm causing an untold amount of anxiety to students and financial difficulty for parents. More than 85% of schools in Britain now hold school proms, which range from boat parties to tailor made extravaganzas!

The Average cost of Prom Night

is it allowed for muslims to go to the prom

Naïve teens get enveloped in this extravagant fantasy, and for the sake of their kid’s happiness, gullible parents are quite happy to pay for it. The cost of one night of prom ‘fun’ are shocking. A recent Visa survey showed that in 2015 the average American family spent $919 per attendee on prom night Promaholics.com, a site devoted to “all things prom,” states, “Choosing a dress for prom is up there with choosing a wedding dress.”. According to Go-Compare the average cost for a UK parent in 2015 was £190 – up 23% from 2013.

Typically, at my daughter’s school, girls (I mean their parents) are splashing out £150 on a dress, £120 each to share a 5 seater limousine, £35 on makeup and a thrifty £30 on shoes! No wonder the UK high school prom industry is now worth a cool £90m a year. Ever more extravagant proms create a cycle of teenagers continuously trying to outdo each other, making the evenings more and more expensive. Personally, I refuse to be pestered into paying £120 an hour for a limousine that I won’t get the pleasure of sitting in myself.

The Prom Fantasy

muslim promThe allure and characteristic red carpet look -long frocks and limousines- that are synonymous with proms comes not only from a lifelong diet of banal Hollywood teen movies and soaps, but also from a money-oriented world where schoolgirls/schoolboys measure themselves against film stars and football players. Proms, are an incitement to celebrity-fantasy they disingenuously give our kids the chance to be a movie star for the evening. However, I don’t want my teenage daughter to aspire to being a superficial, self-absorbed, celeb! Do you?

As we know, exam stress is a necessary evil; prom stress is a headache that our kids should not have to deal with. As I mentioned I’m a high school teacher, GCSEs have now become more difficult to pass so naturally students need to focus more time and energy, studying. Therefore, it makes no sense for schools to encourage students to waste, yes waste, their lunchtimes organising bake sales for their prom.

It’s no wonder that UK students are stuck in educational doldrums, according to the influential PISA report. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is undertaken once every three years and tests 15-year-olds’ abilities in the core academic disciplines of reading, maths and science. Launched in 2000, around 540,000 students from 72 countries took part in PISA in 2015. The UK results were abysmal: Science 15th place, Reading, 21st and Maths 27th. Do you think the parents of high school students in Singapore, China or Finland (these countries were in the top 10 rankings) would let their kids squander their time a few months before their GCSE exams?

Is Prom allowed in Islam?

You may have guessed that my daughter will not be going to her school prom – her older brother didn’t go either. And it’s not because I’m a penny pinching, kill joy. Having taken the time to study the ayah and hadith relating to socialising in Islam. I can’t find any Islamic evidence to say teenagers (who no longer see themselves as ‘school kids’), can go to a mixed party, looking absolutely gorgeous (with or without hijab) where couples will be dancing, flirting and kissing. Every Muslim know that having a girlfriend or boyfriend or prom date, (even just for one night) is haram.

As we all know Islam is a way of life and therefore it has comprehensive social laws that regulate the relationship between men and women, which aim to direct and restrict the fulfilment of desires to marriage alone. These social rules also include the Islamic dress code, the prohibition of an unrelated man and woman being alone together, as well as the prohibition of the free-mixing of the genders and intimate relationships outside marriage. These laws have a tangible, positive outcome upon society of protecting the family unit and the rights of children, as well as ensuring healthy interaction between men and women that is productive and not cheapened nor hindered by romantic distractions.

Are mixed school dances allowed in Islam?

When the Prophet (saw) saw men and women mingling when they were leaving the mosque, he ordered them to separate and even made different entrances for the genders in the mosque to ensure separation. He (saw) also organised separate classes to teach men and women about Islam. For the prayers, the Messenger (saw) arranged the men and women into separate lines and the women would leave the mosque before the men in order to prevent their mixing.

Umm Salamah, the wife of the Prophet (saw) narrated, “Whenever Allah’s Apostle completed the prayer with Taslim, the women used to get up immediately and Allah’s Apostle would remain at his place and so would the men who prayed with him.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari].

These evidences establish the general norm in Islam is that men and women are obliged to be separate but there are clear exceptions prescribed by the Qur’an and Sunnah of where they are permitted to meet and interact for a clearly defined purpose – for example in education, seeking of medical care, trade, accounting the ruler, raising their political opinions within society, and so on. Hence, gender separation is a well-known and important Islamic tradition that is part of everyday life within Muslim communities, practiced in mosques, Islamic weddings, Muslim schools, and homes.

Advice for Muslim Parents regarding Prom Night

As parents we have to take our responsibilities seriously. Abdullah bin ‘Umar narrated:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) as saying: “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The amir (ruler) who is over the people is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock; a woman is a shepherdess in charge of her husband’s house and children and she is responsible for them; and a man’s slave is a shepherd in charge of his master’s property and he is responsible for it. So each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock.”

 

In addition, Allah (swt) says: “O you who believe! save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones; over it are angels stern and strong, they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them, and do as they are commanded.” (66:6)

Muslim prom dress?

muslim prom dress

We know Muslim teenagers face immense peer-pressure to follow the crowd and it doesn’t help (girls in particular) when fame-hungry, Muslim YouTubers misguide them with “How to hijabify your prom dress” and “Get ready with me for Prom: turban tutorial”. But parents shouldn’t give in to emotional blackmail that contradicts Islam either. Our kids may not have enough life experience to appreciate the wisdom of ayah:

“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (2:216)

But we do so it’s our duty to explain why going to a mixed prom is haram. Our kids will plead “It’s just a harmless school party? It’s the last time I will see my classmates. There won’t be any alcohol and the food will be halal.” But that mind-set shows that our kids think Islam is just a bunch of dietary rules? We have to spend time talking about our core beliefs, why we believe in Allah, why the Quran is the word of Allah and the Prophet (saw) life is the example we follow. We don’t want our kids to be like the people mentioned in the ayah:

And leave alone those who take their religion as play and amusement, and are deceived by the life of this world. But remind (them) with it (the Quran) lest a person be given up to destruction for that which he has earned, when he will find for himself no protector or intercessor besides Allah, and even if he offers every ransom, it will not be accepted from him. Such are they who are given up to destruction because of that which they have earned (6:70

Prom Night – Is it really OK for Muslims to go to the Prom?

 

You have to be frank with your child that you know exactly what goes on at proms and the after parties where the alcohol, drugs and god know what else happens. The dilemma you face is, if you let your teenager go to this party, then they will expect to go to the next party and the next party and the even worse party. You’re opening the floodgates and won’t have a leg to stand on. Moreover, it’s vital you practice what you preach so if you are going to mixed weddings and social gatherings then you need to stop too.

When our kids leave high school they are at a crossroads, they are moving from the restrictions of school to the freedom of college. It’s a delicate time, they’re at the cusp of adulthood and to make the right choices they need Islamic guidance. Inshallah, while prom may seem like the be-all, end-all of events for your teen at the moment, you and I know that soon it will become a distant memory….

 

Farhat Amin

Need more advice on how to persuade your kids to not go to the prom? Read this article

 

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Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Hena says:

    JazakAllah khairun for writing this. It absolutely needed to be said and I agree 100%. It’s a sad state of affairs when literally all the Muslim families I know allow their kids to attend prom. May Allah swt grant us hidaayah and enable our children and ourselves to stand firm in the face of ignorance and peer pressure, ameen.

    • admin says:

      salams Hena,
      Jzk for taking the time to share your thoughts, I really appreciate it. Ameen to your dua, I only realised how many Muslim kids were going to proms when my teenage kids told me about it. I think some parents are just unaware of what goes on at proms, and others I know don’t know how to say no to their kids. Unfortunately, high school proms are basically the same as going to nightclub, inshallah I hope this article helps to educate fellow parents about the negative consequences of letting their children go to the “not so innocent school dance”

  • Angela says:

    I agree with yourself. It’s just pathetic to see that our people are willing to follow every other rules, religion, traditions more than our own. Silly new trends is not the way to go. Yes it’s hard to make your child see that although it’s not wrong to attend as long as nothing awful is going on. But why not have a simple get together instead. The hard times are upon us and we need to be really strong and firm in our beliefs.

    • admin says:

      salams Angela,
      I understand exactly what you mean. Thank you for your message, I’m sure it will make parents think more deeply about letting their teenagers attend the prom.

  • Nadia says:

    Salam ailikum
    Thank you for that post. My children will soon reach the age when this problem will arise. They attend a girl secondary school but prom is an ongoing topic. And you are right. One thing leads to another until they’ll be comfortable in worse settings aka parties with alcohol and mixed genders. i am preparing to propose an alternative. Not a prom alternative but something to celebrate the end of GCSE in a more suitable setting. i have no idea how to contact other mums and how things will go. My daughters have followed my lead until now but I expect some frustration and resentment. May Allah help us.

    • admin says:

      Wasalam Nadia,
      You and your girls are in my duas, I know exactly what you’re going through.I have faced the same issues, I think firstly we can’t underestimate the power of dua and then you’re so right to think of an alternative. Could you ask your daughters if they have any friends who they think won’t be going then you can arrange something that way? Inshallah you are in the right, you’re doing what Allah wants rather than what would be the easier option, because you want the best for your daughters and the angels will be writing this down in your book of good deeds, inshallah.
      Ameen to all you duas

  • admin says:

    Jzk for posting this. As a revert it’s hard to not want my children to participate in things that were ‘normal’ coming of age events for me. It has given me a fantastic inspiration for my daughter. (She is at an all girls Muslim school). A Y11 formal dress leaving dinner. All the fun with her friends, dressed to the 9s, in a halal environment. Any thoughts from other parents??
    Leah

    • admin says:

      salams Leah I’m so happy my humble blog has helped you, the formal dinner sounds brilliant ia I hope they have a lovely evening.

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