Here Is What It's Like To Go To Prom When You're Muslim

We asked fans of BuzzFeed's podcast See Something Say Something to share their Muslim prom stories. WARNING: they are very tame.

This week on See Something Say Something, I asked guests to share what it's like to go to prom while Muslim.

Kate Bubacz / BuzzFeed News

For some Muslims, prom and dancing 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. For instance, my parents were fine with me going to prom, but wanted me to be home early enough to take the SATs the next day. Co-host Tabir Akhter and I decided to investigate by talking to two current high schoolers, Noshin and Rahat. Then, we asked style icon Nabiha Syed for some tips on how to dress for prom.

We also recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community and fans of See Something Say Something to share their stories of going to prom while Muslim. Here's what they said.

1. The real prom story:

Sabriya Alam

Many Muslim parents have a negative idea of what prom entails, but prom is shown as far more glamorous, important, and wild than it actually is. My parents were skeptical at first about letting me attend my senior prom, but eventually, they allowed it. So, a few weeks ago, I went with a group of my girl friends, and we had a lovely evening. We enjoyed the food, chatted with each other, and celebrated the end of high school together. All while keeping it 100% halal. So long as you hang out with friends who share your values and will act responsibly, you really have nothing to worry about.

- Sabriya Alam (email)

2. The dress hack:

For my junior prom, it was impossible to find a halal dress, so my mom finally bought me one with little cap sleeves and made me buy a matching scarf to wear around my shoulders. Of course, I left it on the table, and someone spilled fruit punch all over it, so (my mom) figured out I hadn't worn it all night.

For senior year, I was so over all the tacky prom dresses in stores, so I ended up wearing a lehenga that basically looked like a gorgeous gown and slayed.


3. Fasting during prom:

Prom's in a few weeks and it's during Ramadan this year, so we'll see how that plays out! My prom ticket is a lot cheaper than everyone else's because I don't have to pay for food #perks.


4. The most lit after-party of all time:

My prom experience: mom let me go, but my dress was made by the auntie that sews shalwar kameez. The Muslim boy I liked told me he wanted to ask me to prom, but he wasn't allowed to go but I saw him grinding it up with a white girl from a different school. Also, the only way my mom would let me go to an after party was if I hosted it myself. It was the first time I had boys over and all we did was watch half of Step Brothers and eat sandwiches.

Sennahmad (Twitter)

5. The prom princess:

Laila Hamad

I spent about four months trying to convince my beautiful, loving mother to let me go. She did, but my prom dress didn't arrive until the morning of prom and it was sleeveless. But still, I went to prom with all my friends and their dates. I felt strong and independent AF, even without a date. I danced with my friends and get this... I won prom princess!!! I was so happy to win. My favorite thing about winning is that it showed me and every other girl at prom that none of them need a man to be a princess and they can be strong independent women and still slayyy.

—Laila Hamad (via email)

Laila Hamad

6. Praying in the prom-mobile:

@radbrowndads @seesomething i think I made maghrib or isha in the limo and made it home JUST in time for fajr. good times!

7. The anti-prom:

Most of my friends went to prom, but I couldn't afford it so I stayed back to do homework. There were at least 10 other Muslim boys and girls who were studying for exams and couldn't go, so we all bonded over it in a study room and revelled in the idea of saving hundreds of dollars. TLDR: I made some new friends


8. The prom queen:

At my prom, I basically sat around while everyone danced, but our queen was Muslim! :)

9. The last-minute prom:

My parents finally agreed to let me go to my senior prom the NIGHT before! I didn't even have a ticket — all I had was a Pakistani dress I knew I wanted to wear. My amazing friends and teachers helped me arrange everything, from my ticket, hair, makeup, and a corsage in 24 hours! Even though in my group of friends I was the only one going solo, I still had fun!


10. The 100% halal prom:

Areeba Imam

Even though my parents disapproved and complained, there was a happy ending — I got a dress a day before the prom, went as a date of my best friend. She danced with her stupid crush all night while I danced and ate a lot of chocolate covered strawberries. Also, I looked bomb af! I had a 100% halal prom.

—Areeba Imam (email)

11. Prom overseas:

Where I come from, parents don't forbid their kids to go to prom. Our prom was just like an award ceremony — there are performances, music (but no one dances), and there is no booze. My parents even drove us to the hotel themselves. That's what prom is like in a Muslim country.


12. The "safe" date:

I had to go to prom with my gay friend because Mom was so scared of the myth that I would lose my virginity on prom night. She thought I'd be "safe" with my friend. So, in the limo, everyone was a couple except for the Muslim brown girl and her gay white boy date.

—Tanzila Ahmed (Facebook)

13. This fair deal:

My senior prom is at the end of May, and there is no way in the world my parents are going to budge. My friends are bummed out. I always try to explain to my parents that people have sex and do all sorts of drugs in high school, but I decided not to partake, and that should prove that I was trustworthy. Also, since I'm black and a hijabi, my story is probably a little different. My school is pretty safe and insanely multicultural. A couple of years ago, this gorgeous hijabi won best dressed and all of my hijabi friends are going. But, in return for not going, my parents are giving me $500 and my sister and I are going to Dubai to stay with family over the summer, so there's that.


14. The American prom in a German castle (while wearing a sari!):

Mariam Durrani

In 1999, I was a senior at Heidelberg American High School in Germany. Naturally, we had prom in a 13th century castle from the Renaissance. Until that time, my father had never allowed me to go to any school dances, but this was prom in a castle! I begged him to make an exception. He gave one stipulation — that my LITTLE brother had to go with me. Day before, my best friend Katherine got cancelled on, so she ended up going with my brother, and I ended up with another fellow loner who didn't have a date. I spent most of that night talking to my friends and my date left before after-prom because he had a headache, not that it affected my plans. The end.

—Mariam Durrani

15. The self-realization:

When I was younger, I never thought I'd ever be allowed to go to prom, but a month away from prom, I finally asked my mom. She knew my friends were great, so she finally said yes, but on one condition: I would wear a ghagra choli to prom. At that point, I finally conquered my self hatred of being brown and Muslim, so of course I said yes. It was a chance to not only be the unique one at prom but also show that I wasn't going to hide who I am. I did have a great night but of course I couldn't go to the hotel for the after-party because we all know what happens there (my mom ESPECIALLY knew).


16. The awkward scene:

Firstly, I'd just like to say that I love the podcast!!!! I went to prom at my very small high school in suburban Ohio with my group of friends. I spent months finding the perfect dress that I wouldn't have to wear an undershirt with and even more time finding a hijab style that would compliment my dress. Both of my sisters had advised me not to attend as it wouldn't live up to the hype that teenage popcorn fiction had built up in my head.

Once I got there, almost everyone I knew was drunk, many guys I had grown up with suddenly thought they had a pass to grab me. Overall, it was not a fun experience.
Best part of the night was definitely locking eyes with another Muslimah across the floor and both of realizing this was not our scene!

—Submitted anonymously

17. The midriff:

Rakiya Syed

For, prom I decided to go all out and wear a sari. As a sari may still expose your midriff, I begged my parents to let me tailor the blouse to show at least my belly button. That took a lot of convincing. A good friend asked me to prom with him, and I did not tell my parents about it until two weeks before my prom in June. Let's just say that almost had me not going to prom. I took pictures with my date, ensuring his hands didn't touch near the exposed skin. My father glared the whole time. The whole night I jumped between a bunch of groups to dance with and afterwards I had a sleepover with some girlfriends.

—Rakiya Syed (email)

18. The hipster after-party:

For me, knowing my parents, the thought of going to prom was pretty laughable. Luckily for me, at this point in life, I was a hipster and wanted nothing to do with prom. The worst.

The after-party was halal enough for my parents though, so I went. There was pizza, music, and bowling. Classic Americana. I got home at 4a.m. and everyone was already asleep, THANK GOD. I don't know if there were any Muslims at prom, but there was definitely at least one Muslim at the bowling alley after-party that night. I was just beginning a journey of multiple identity crises. Deep down, I really wanted to be a part of something so stupidly American. Getting permission to late night/early morning bowling gave me hope. Shoutouts to Ammi and Aboo. <3

—Lubna Chaudhry (email)

Want to hear more Muslim prom stories? Listen to the prom episode of See Something Say Something and subscribe!

Submissions have been edited for clarity and content.