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    THE PROM

    The Prom Exposed:
    Seeing it for what it really is

    You might think that Shazia Ahmad, 16, is really lucky.

    After all, her junior prom is coming up in May, and then next year, she'll have her senior prom to celebrate the end of her high school years.

    The Prom is a yearly social event commemorating students' end of high school. While technically speaking, it signifies the successful completion of studies; it is more than that. It is the ultimate event on the teen social scene. It is a social marker, indicating a change from being a teenager to becoming an adult.

    But Shazia won't be dealing with all that goes into the Prom: getting a fancy dress, getting made up, etc. because she's not going.

    "The angel of Death can show up at your door anytime," she says, quoting a speaker at Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) session she attended. "Do you really want him to catch you at the prom?" she asks.

    What is it about the Prom that made Shazia happily reject the idea of attending the ultimate teen celebration in North American culture?

    It's not the happiness of completing high school she rejects when it comes to the issue of the Prom. It's the social elements present there.

    The Prom: What it's really about

    "Dating, drinking, drugs, sex, they're like essential components of your prom night," Ahmad tells Sound Vision in a telephone interview from her home in Albany, New York. "Being in that environment is dangerous because it makes you vulnerable to doing wrong."

    But it doesn't stop there. Ask Shaema Imam, 22, who attended her 1994 Prom.

    "It's not just the drinking, it's not just the hotel room and sex part, it ‘s the whole atmosphere that's created where alcohol, dancing and varying degrees of nudity are correlated with a good time," says the McGill University student.

    It is also big business.

    "[The] Prom isn't about North American society wanting its youth to turn into well-adjusted people via grad night," says Imam. "In fact, this is a multi million dollar business of selling clothes, accessories, make up, limousine services, food, alcohol, condoms. You need to realize what this is all about."

    Prom night often starts off with dinner at a hotel organized by the high school. But that's tame compared to what happens afterwards.

    Many of the students head off to clubs, where mixed dancing and plenty of alcohol and drugs are part of the scene. (For more details please see Anatomy of the Prom at http:/www.soundvision.com).

    Imam says students in her graduating class rented a club called The Underground for the post-dinner part of the Prom. She says the smoky, dark and unsafe club scene disgusted her.

    In general, what's wrong with the Prom?

    "On one level there's of course the Islamic restriction on being around those who are doing Haram things," notes Imam Khalid Fattah Griggs, Imam of the Community Mosque of Winston-Salem in North Carolina. Griggs accepted Islam in 1972. He attended his high school Prom a few years before that when he was not Muslim.

    "We're not even supposed to be sitting amongst people doing Haram (forbidden) things and so the environment is just pregnant with acts [we're not supposed to be involved in]. From the music that is being played to the Islamically inappropriate interactions to the drinking," he says in an interview with Sound Vision.

    "It's just a very unIslamic environment and atmosphere. You can't be in that environment without being negatively influenced."

    "The whole purpose of the Prom is to provide a dance forum for students," Griggs says. "This forum has no Islamic parameters."

    Alcohol: No Prom without it

    "Everybody becomes so drunk," says Shadi Sakr, 23, about the Prom.

    He recounted how one student, the year after high school graduation, kept insisting Sakr was in the same limousine as he on Prom night.

    Sakr did not even go to his Prom. He discovered the details of the evening from his friends who went.

    "Once they're drunk your non-Muslim friends are no longer ‘nice-people-who-happen-to-not-be-Muslims'," says Imam.

    "This is the point at which you realize that there is a fundamental difference between you and them. You are a Muslim and they are willing participants in this aspect of North American culture," she says.

    But alcohol can lead to more than making a fool of yourself on the dance floor: it could lead to death.

    According to the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.), in 1995, 48.7 percent of traffic fatalities that occurred during the first week of the prom were alcohol related.

    Sex: Prom Night is the night for it

    Sex is clearly part of the Prom experience.

    "It's the volatile mix of putting unsupervised teenagers with their hormones raging, providing an opportunity for these teenagers to act out their fantasies," notes Imam Griggs.

    He does not think that things have changed with regards to the Prom much since his teen years. "I think that as long as there have been Proms, that same element of debauchery has existed," he says.

    While for young women, the Prom may be seen as a special night of celebration with friends and a guy of their dreams, "for the young guys, you're just trying to see how many young girls you can be with [have sex with] before the sunrise," Griggs tells Sound Vision.

    Sakr explains that youth losing their virginity on Prom night is one of the foci of the evening.

    "It's the night where you become an adult, supposedly," he says.

    Hotel rooms are rented, in most cases for this very purpose.

    In particular, the clubs are where students "practice all [those] ‘girl-guy' moves," according to Imam and the situation is even more dangerous because they are most often under the influence of alcohol.

    The build up and let down of Prom Night

    "There's a whole building of an anticipatory culture around ‘the night'," explains Imam.

    Indeed, youth are bombarded through magazines, websites, television sitcoms, advertisements, and general peer pressure to participate in this most "essential" of teenage rituals.

    Even parents who are strict with their children tend to loosen up for Prom night.

    "This is the pinnacle of the night for you to go out and do what you want and non-Muslim parents let their children do whatever they want [that night]," says Sakr.

    "The whole year, people were getting their licenses, deciding on what clothes they wanted to wear. Reserving their appointments six months in advance for the hair salon," he adds.

    But the experience of and letdown from the Prom are much greater.

    "It's almost impossible for any experience to live up to that build up," says Imam.

    "This whole night there's [an] aura of high class escapism, but the day before the Prom and the day after you're still the same, unsure teen," she says, adding it makes it seem almost like you have nothing to look forward to anymore.

    "The next morning I went home on the city bus," she says. "It's almost like turning back into Cinderella's pumpkin."

    Intense peer pressure to go to the Prom

    Peer pressure to go to the Prom is not something non-existent. Consider Shazia Ahmad's case: "I wear Hijab, I started a Muslim club at my school and I'm still asked what am I going to wear to the Prom," she says.

    "The young folks are, because of our failure to provide Muslim high schools and Islamic educational environments for our teenagers, in the public schools and they're subject to the pressure," explains Griggs. "It's not an artificially induced pressure they're feeling."

    Amber Rehman, 21, of Montreal, Canada did not go to her 1996 Prom but warns that, "I had to be very firm and have a very forward opinion on it. If I let myself, I could have been persuaded."

    Peer pressure is often what makes young Muslims decide to go to the Prom.

    "It depends on how dear you hold your non-Muslim friends," says Sakr. "I would say most guys would follow the group. "

    But I just want to go out with my friends...

    What's wrong with the Prom if all it is going out with my friends to celebrate, some Muslim youth ask.

    "Of course you want to be with your friends," says University of Toronto student Aiysha Malik. She attended high school in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto, Canada.

    "Regardless of whether a person is Muslim or non-Muslim you forge bonds with people who have watched out for you for five years [in some parts of Canada, high school is for five years]," she says in an interview with Sound Vision. "So you build bonds and you want to spend time with them, but you have to ask yourself, what kind of time do you want to spend?"

    "They'll [your friends] be drinking and they won't be the friends you know at school," she explains." Once a person drinks they act different and the dynamic is different. It's less focused on friendship. "

    "At a Prom it seems as if you're together but you're not. It's like going to a movie together. You go to a movie with friends but you focus on the screen. You're not interacting with one another, but you're sitting next to one another, so you think you're together just because you're physically present together." Malik chose not to attend her Prom.

    Sakr adds that at the Prom, "you're seeing people you've spent the last five years of your life with in their worst behavior, and you're rationalizing it."

    It won't affect me

    A number of youth assume it's easy to attend the Prom and not drink, dance, do drugs, etc. The reality is very different.

    "It's really hard to have a halfway thing," says Imam. "There's no way your Muslim child can just go there and be a wallflower and not be affected," she warns parents.

    "Once you're there, you can't say ‘I refuse to participate in your evil kind of entertainment'," says Imam, adding that most youth would probably feel it's rude to leave.

    "If you think that you can protect yourself, then you're entrusting yourself to your own weakness," says Rehman. She adds that Allah warns against even going near Zina (fornication and adultery). With the Prom, you're not only going near that, but also near alcohol and drugs.

    "You're bearing witness to the Haram and ask yourself, if you were to die there, how would you face Allah, that this is the last time you would be with your friends?" asks Sakr.

    One night of ignorance, and never again!

    "Perhaps, just for one night I could pretend to be a regular Western teenage girl, dress up beautifully, make my hair and make up, dance, have fun, and then, wAllah, I promise, I swear to God, I'll act like a Muslim forever after," wrote an anonymous Muslim youth in the Summer 1995 issue of the Montreal, Canada newsletter Salam, rationalizing her choice to go to her Prom.

    "Many Muslim youth may be tempted to think that this night is their last foray into the Jahiliyyah (unIslamic) culture," says Imam.

    But the result of this approach could be deadly: it could mean never coming back to Islam.

    Or, judging from the statistics on traffic fatalities, not coming back alive.

    "When I weigh the pros and cons of what happened, my Deen (religion) is still here and if I had had fun that night I would have forgotten easily," says Rehman.

    The Prom night bubble bursts

    Apart from the letdown from the gigantic hype, Prom night turns out to be a bust for many.

    Although Sakr says the day of the Prom, he just stayed home, was bored, and "sort of regretted the fun that I could have had," he later found out almost everyone at his Prom was drunk, there was too much craziness in the hotels, and some people got kicked out.

    The Prom is a major test for Muslim youth. It represents the struggle against some of the very basic elements of what is defined as a "good time" in North American teenage culture.

    Muslim parents and communities need to work together to recognize and help the youth fight against these pressures.

    But for youth like Shazia Ahmad, the Prom is no big deal. "There's life after the prom," she says with a small laugh.

    HOW TO DEAL WITH PROM:
    Anatomy of the Prom: What is it about?
    The Prom Exposed: Seeing it for what it really is
    How to Say No To The Prom: 6 tips
    Why I boycotted the Senior Prom? Dawud Wharnsby Ali
    7 Prom Tips For Teens
    10 things you can do besides go to the Prom
    7 Things Muslim communities can do about Proms
    10 Prom Tips for Parents
    [Discuss Prom in our forum]

    http://www.soundvision.com/Info/prom/


    ------------------
    "I put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving creature, but He has a grasp of its forelock. Verily, my Lord is on the straight path. (The truth)"
    (11:55-56)

    "...Indeed my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allaah, the Lord of the worlds" (6:162)

    #2
    Is prom harmful to Muslims kids only or it has had harmful effects on Non-Muslim kids too?

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Qaasim:
      Is prom harmful to Muslims kids only or it has had harmful effects on Non-Muslim kids too?
      It's harmful for both Muslims and Non-Muslims, but I guess it's worse for Muslims since the activities at the prom night goes against the teachings of Islam and almost all of'em are Haram.

      ------------------
      "I put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving creature, but He has a grasp of its forelock. Verily, my Lord is on the straight path. (The truth)"
      (11:55-56)

      "...Indeed my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allaah, the Lord of the worlds" (6:162)

      [This message has been edited by Sadiaa (edited May 31, 2002).]

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Qaasim:
        Is prom harmful to Muslims kids only or it has had harmful effects on Non-Muslim kids too?
        did u take tmie out to read what has been posted above
        Both Halal & Haram r evident but between them r doubtful things, most ppl have no knowledge about them. So whoever saves himself from suspicious things saves his religion & honor, & whoever indulges in suspicious things indulges in Haram.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Sadiaa:
          It's harmful for both Muslims and Non-Muslims, but I guess it's worse for Muslims since the activities at the prom night goes against the teachings of Islam and almost all of'em are Haram.

          Thanks for replying, but how would it be harmful to non-Muslim kids, morally and religiously?
          I am asking (a question out of the air, I do not mean to criticize any part of your post) this only because non-Muslims do not have any restrictions religiously or morally to any of the activities (drugs, alcohol, sex etc etc) going on in the prom.

          Comment


            #6
            I relize that a lot of kids do, do the things mentioned here, but not all. There are some kids that really do just have good clean fun. My son and his date went to dinner, then the dance. He was home by 11 p.m. totally sober. Maybe because he is dating the minister's daughter?

            Brenda

            ------------------
            Hope for the best, prepare for the worst!!!

            Comment


              #7
              Sex drugs and alcohol are harmfull and imoral to all kids,

              Muslims do not have a monopoly on morality by any means.



              [This message has been edited by MMike (edited June 03, 2002).]

              Comment


                #8
                Sadiaa another one of yours beautiful posts mashallah
                Thanks for sharing .
                Life became all Gray! But NOW i have decided to paint it all over again.

                I Tawt I Taw A Puddy Tat

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by bcsm57:
                  I relize that a lot of kids do, do the things mentioned here, but not all. There are some kids that really do just have good clean fun. My son and his date went to dinner, then the dance. He was home by 11 p.m. totally sober. Maybe because he is dating the minister's daughter?

                  Brenda

                  well.. till 11 pm is a lot of time..i guess every mom thinks like that j/k..u should be proud of ur son.

                  hmm what does ur signature signify? the way i see it; that u should not prepare enough BUT should hope for the best...shouldn't it be the other way around; you should give ur 100% and ur expectations should be low so in case of not achieving what you had been working so hard for, u should not be discouraged..

                  probably i am missing something!!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    [QUOTE]Originally posted by MMike:

                    Muslims do not have a monopoly on morality by any means.


                    They sure are not perfect, but their moral standards are definately higher than many other people.

                    ------------------
                    I'm So Miserable Without You, It's Like Having You Here.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I don't agree with the article. not everybody celebrates the prom as it has mentioned above, this is generalization.

                      ------------------
                      I'm So Miserable Without You, It's Like Having You Here.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by MMike:
                        Sex drugs and alcohol are harmfull and imoral to all kids,

                        Muslims do not have a monopoly on morality by any means
                        Sorry dear, you got me wrong, I was not talking about monopoly of any faith, I was talking about the restrictions which have been implemented by the faith of Islam. My question is if any faith (other than Islam) does not put any restrictions on the use of alcohol, sex (out side the marriage) and drugs then how it could be morally and/or religiously harmful? Again, I am not talking about the society pressure or the laws of the countries.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I agree with secret obsession - this is the media image given to proms.

                          Also, it depends on the school and the quality of folks attending...if its in a low neighborhood, then of course you're going to have everything from drugs to sex there.

                          Likewise, some rich neighborhoods have wild proms...but I know that the highschool I went to, is pretty tight on security...and you dont HAVE to go to after parties, and you don't HAVE to wear wild dresses...

                          my friend just went recently, and she wore a desi outfit (all covered up), she didn't dance with guys but she danced with her female friends, and then she went out to a party at her friends house which was completely conservative.

                          If you want to have a halaal prom, you can.
                          I believe in dragons, good men, and other fantasy creatures.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by PyariCgudia:

                            If you want to have a halaal prom, you can.
                            Mind defining 'Halal Prom'?

                            ------------------
                            "I put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving creature, but He has a grasp of its forelock. Verily, my Lord is on the straight path. (The truth)"
                            (11:55-56)

                            "...Indeed my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allaah, the Lord of the worlds" (6:162)

                            [This message has been edited by Sadiaa (edited June 04, 2002).]

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Sadiaa:
                              Mind defining 'Halal Prom'?

                              ...which has "halal food"

                              Comment

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