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Customs and Culture >
Why are Muslims against dancing?

Muslims have a variety of opinions about dancing, depending on their country of origin, how conservative their understanding of Islam is, the type of dancing in question, and where the dancing takes place. Dancing between unmarried couples is generally disapproved of, since dancing typically involves touching, an action considered inappropriate between unmarried people of opposite genders. In addition, many Muslims are concerned that permitting their children to attend American-style dances, such as those sponsored by junior and senior high schools, will lead to their dating non-Muslims or to sexual activity.

This does not mean that all dancing is forbidden in Islam. In many Middle Eastern countries, belly dancing and folk dancing have long been part of celebrations, particularly weddings. Especially popular are single-sex group dances that are performed in circular, cluster, or chain formations and consist of rhythmic stamping and stepping with the feet and clapping with the hands. Another style of dancing, particularly in tribal cultures, consists of a series of maneuvers with a weapon, such as a sword, dagger, spear, or stick.

In addition, some Sufi orders, such as the Mawlawi/Mevlevi order, also known as the “Whirling Dervishes,” use dance as a devotional tool in their quest for a direct spiritual experience of God and in imitation of the order of the universe. Islamic forms of dance tend to follow the broader Islamic artistic pattern of symmetry, geometry, and rhythm. Dance in Islamic culture has therefore tended to feature a series of individual units arranged to form a larger design, all of which are symmetrical and follow an arabesque pattern (an infinite series of circles or other shapes). This pattern is a symbolic representation of belief in the oneness of God (tawhid).

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