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7 Things Muslim communities can do
The prom is not just a "teen" issue or a "family" issue. It's a Muslim community concern. It needs to be addressed from an Islamic perspective by parents and respected community members.
There are a number of ways communities can address this to help inform and encourage Muslim youth not to attend due to the unIslamic content of the prom. Here are some ideas:
1. Use the Khutbah (Friday Sermon) to talk about it
Friday sermons bring in not just the handful of Masjid regulars, but also those who only attend the Masjid once a week. Use this opportunity to alert the congregation about the Prom: what it is about and why parents should be taking concrete steps to talk to their children about it, and encourage them not to go.
2. Hold an interactive youth seminar on the Prom
With seminars, it's usually the adults doing the topic. This time, do something different.
Hold an interactive seminar, which is mainly organized by the youth with adult supervision. It must have a panel of youth who have not gone to the prom and those who have gone and regret it. Let them do the talking.
After this let everyone speak freely and ask questions they need to. The focus should be two-fold:
a. Informing the audience
b. Sharing strategies on how youth can resist prom pressure.
3. Hold a post-prom checkup discussion
Face it. There will be youth that will go to the prom despite repeated advice and warning. Take advantage of this opportunity to hold a post-Prom discussion. It does not have to be like the interactive seminar above. But it can simply be a casual discussion open to all about it.
4. Plan for next year
At this forum, apart from discussing the post-prom situation, use this meeting as a forum for discussion of what strategies can be planned for next year to help other youth avoid the prom temptation. Both youth and adults have to be given the opportunity to speak and be heard.
5. Organize a Muslim graduation ceremony
Organize a ceremony or dinner at the local Islamic center for graduates of the high schools to celebrate their achievement.
Have certificates, gifts, whatever you can afford. Make it fancier than usual if you can. This is not a prom replacement. Rather it's meant to recognize Muslim teen's achievement of graduating. Have extra prizes or scholarships, if possible, for those who have done well academically. The point is to recognize achievement and share happiness.
Attention should be given to those youth who have preserved their Islamic identity, excelled academically and contributed to the Muslim community.
6. Encourage parents to talk about it with their kids
Parents have to sit down to talk about the prom with their kids. If they have put it off for 16 years, there is most likely trouble lying ahead. Nonetheless, it is a parent's duty to inform and guide in the best way possible. Imams should sit with parents, in study circles, on an individual basis or in articles for the local community newsletter or newspaper and provide practical suggestions on how to give the Islamic perspective on the Prom to teens in a gentle but straightforward manner.
7. Address it at the next Masjid board meeting
Have a young Muslim address the issue at an upcoming board
meeting and discuss strategies the community should put in place to help Muslim
teens avoid the prom. In the long run, this meeting can be the springboard for
more youth involvement in community affairs.
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