Are Muslims Allowed to Dance?

Dancing is a natural behavior in many cultures; a way of showing happiness or sometimes sadness. In a theory raised by me! the release of energy by moving our body is dancing. But in a theory raised by a scholar "dance refers to a rhythmic movement of the body, usually for entertainment" [1].


Now, let us take both of these definitions into consideration and see what kind of dancing in Islam is forbidden (Haram).


The General Ruling of Dancing in Islam


In the view of some Islamic scholars, it is not permissible for women to dance anywhere in any ceremony irrespective of whether it is a wedding or a birthday ceremony except for a woman's dancing for her husband.


In expanding the above ruling, it has been said that “there is no problem in dancing in itself. However, if dancing entails sexual excitation or committing a forbidden (Haram) act like listening to forbidden (Haram) music, or it is in the presence of non-mahram men, it is forbidden (Haram). And it does not make a difference as to the various types of music. Generally speaking, if dancing is done in a sexually exciting manner, and lead to the commission of a forbidden act, or involves a bad effect, or if it is happening in front of a non-Mahram it is forbidden (Haram)” [3].


If a woman dances for her husband or vice-versa, and the dancing is not accompanied by a forbidden (Haram) act, there is no problem in it [4].


dancing in Islam, Salam Islam

Dancing in Mixed Parties


In mixed parties where men and women are sitting together, the dance of men or women in front of others is forbidden. Some think that it is OK if men dance in front of women. But in fact, it is forbidden (Haram) for a man to dance. Dance of women in front of men and any dancing which may entail a bad effect and arousal of sexual desires are forbidden (Haram). Playing music and listening to it is also unlawful (Haram) if it is done in a lahwi, enrapturing manner.



No matter if men or women who are dancing together or in front of others are of their unmarriageable kin (maḥrams) of the opposite sex. What is forbidden about dancing is general, i.e., regardless of whether it is done by a man, a woman, or in the presence of one’s marriageable kin (non-maḥram) or unmarriageable kin (maḥram) [5].


Women Dancing for Women in Small Parties, Friendly Gatherings, and Weddings


Dance of women for women is permitted (Halal) if it is not done in a sexually exciting manner and does not lead to the commission of a forbidden act, nor entails a bad effect. However, it is forbidden (Haram) to attend a dance party if it is considered as accepting the forbidden (Haram) act of others or leads to committing a forbidden (Haram) act. Otherwise, there is no harm in it. Dance of a woman for other women is forbidden if her husband does not allow her to do so. 


Some people think that the rulings of dancing do not apply to wedding parties as it is just one happy night. But there is no difference between a  wedding party and other occasions. Dancing with music is forbidden (Haram) [6].


In case of wedding parties, the dance of women in front of women is not forbidden (Haram) under the conditions mentioned above.


dancing in Islam, Salam Islam

Men Dancing for Men in Separate Parties or Weddings



As mentioned before, by obligatory caution, it is forbidden (Haram) for men to dance.



Dancing for fitness/ Aerobics and other sports with music



Here we discuss the point of releasing energy by moving the body. Is it forbidden (Haram)?



If the movements of the body do not meet the criteria of forbidden (Haram) dance, and if it is not accompanied with forbidden (Haram) music, there is no problem in dancing in private or in groups of women for fitness. However, we have to make sure that such dancing is not happening in front of CCTV cameras or filmed by people who may show it to non-mahrams.



Aerobics and other sports that are based on rhythmic music are permissible if the music is not forbidden (Haram). If music does not cause ecstasy, there is no objection to it. The duty-bound (mukallaf) himself should distinguish whether the music is lahwi or not [7].



Dance Teaching Centers


Establishing centers for teaching and promoting dancing goes against the objectives of the Islamic system and it is impermissible by obligatory caution [8].



[1] Sayyid Mujtaba Husseini, Questions and Answers by Students (Rules regarding Music), pg. 84

[2] Ayatullah Makarem-Shirazi, jurisprudential expressions,

[3] Sayyid Mas'ud Ma'sumi, Rules regarding Man-Woman Relationships, pg. 219

[4] Tawzih al-Masail (with annotations by Imam Khomeini), vol.2, pg. 970