Hannah at prom: An American Muslim’s story

A typical American teenager, Hannah Shraim, 17, is Senior class president of her high school, attends a study group of students that meets at Starbucks, is a member of the Girl Scouts, and enjoys time with her diverse group of friends and her close-knit family.

She is also an observant Muslim who prays five times a day, wears the Islamic headscarf (hijab), and hopes to become an advocate for Muslims in the United States. After convincing her parents that she was ready for the responsibility, she began wearing the headscarf every day in the 10th grade.

This past May, AP photographer Jacquelyn Martin documented the teenager's daily life and attendance at her senior prom, as part of “Divided America – American Moments” the AP news series that explores the issues dividing American voters in this tumultuous presidential election year and what’s driving them toward the decision they will make on Nov. 8. 

Shraim's parents were initially concerned about her decision to wear the hijab, citing fears of how strangers might treat her. Lately, Hannah herself is concerned by the rhetoric about Muslims that she hears from the Republican candidate for President, Donald Trump, and some of his supporters. "If Trump becomes the president, then not just Muslims, but a lot of people will live in fear of the future for themselves and their children," says Shraim, "given the scapegoating technique of pushing out minorities, rather than focusing on how we can benefit everyone.”


Hannah Shraim, 17, right, plays with Karim Algamil, 5, next to her father Ihab Shraim, at the Shraim family home in Germantown, Md., Friday, May 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


It was a pretty big deal for my parents to let me attend prom since it’s kind of unorthodox to do so in the Muslim community. However my parents understood that I would be hanging with my girls without a date and that as an active member of my class, it was important for me to go personally.
— Hannah Shraim on her parents being supportive of her desire to attend prom

Shraim picked out her prom dress from a Turkish website that specializes in modest fashion, and was careful to keep her hijab in place throughout the evening while dancing with a group of friends. Although she was not the only Muslim student attending her diverse high school’s prom, she was the only student wearing a hijab among the hundreds of sequined dancers that evening.


Here is Martin’s photo essay along with audio excerpts from her interview of Hannah Shraim.


Hannah Shraim, 17, left, fixes a scarf around Lana Algamil, 5, after the little girl asked Hannah if she could try one on before evening prayers at the Shraim family home in Germantown, Md., Friday, May 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Hannah Shraim attends a study session of her youth group as part of the Muslim American Society of Maryland, in Germantown, Md., Saturday, May 7, 2016. The members of the youth group are also members of Girl Scout Troop 3797, a faith based troop. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)



Hannah Shraim, 17, prays in her room at home after finishing her day at Northwest High School in Germantown, Md., Tuesday, May 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Hannah Shraim, 17, center, turns to chat with other students before an after-hours study session for their math final at Northwest High School in Germantown, Md., Tuesday, May 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Hannah Shraim, 17, helps to move prom dresses for a fundraiser at Northwest High School in Germantown, Md., Tuesday, May 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Hannah Shraim, 17, right, jokes with Mekhala Rao, 17, while studying for their final exams at a Starbucks in Germantown, Md., Tuesday, May 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)



Hannah Shraim, 17, right, and Hannah Reid, 18, left, have their makeup applied as they prepare to attend Northwest High School's senior prom, in Germantown, Md., on Friday, May 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Hannah Shraim, 17, affixes her hijab that she bought to match a special prom dress she ordered from a Turkish website that specializes in modest fashion, as she prepares to attend Northwest High School's senior prom, in Germantown, Md., on Friday, May 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Hannah Shraim, 17, helps Hannah Reid, 18, to fasten the top piece of her prom dress as the close friends prepare to attends Northwest High School's senior prom, in Germantown, Md., on Friday, May 13, 2016. Shraim specially ordered her prom dress from a Turkish website that specializes in modest fashion. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Nails freshly manicured Hannah Shraim, 17, wears a wrist corsage as she meets her friends before they left to attend their senior prom, in Germantown, Md., Friday, May 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Hannah Shraim, center, playfully poses with Ashley Riddle, right, as their prom group poses for a "fun" photograph for their parents in Germantown, Md., before attending their senior prom for Northwest High School, Friday, May 13, 2016. Shraim and Riddle both went to prom solo while the others in the group brought dates. Shraim ordered her prom dress from a Turkish website that specializes in modest fashion. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)



Hannah Shraim, 17, gets out of a limousine to attend her senior prom for Northwest High School, Friday, May 13, 2016, in Silver Spring, Md., at the Fillmore Theater. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Hannah Shraim, right, dances next to Jahnavi Muralidarin during Northwest High School's senior prom held at the Fillmore Theater in Silver Spring, Md., on Friday, May 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Hannah Shraim, 17, center, dances with a group of her friends during their senior prom for Northwest High School, Friday, May 13, 2016, in Silver Spring, Md., at the Fillmore Theater. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Hannah Shraim, 17, right, fixes her headscarf as she takes a break from dancing and chats with her friend's prom date during Northwest High School's senior prom in Silver Spring, Md., on Friday, May 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Samantha Bischoff, left, compliments Hannah Shraim on her prom dress during Northwest High School's senior prom at the Fillmore Theater in Silver Spring, Md., on Friday, May 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


After prom I felt happy that I created memories with amazing people. Since I was really involved in the planning as President, it felt like all of our hard work paid off seeing everyone enjoying themselves so much. Honestly it felt like a blessing to be a part of that experience. I’m also glad that I went as a representative of my faith to show that hey, Muslims CAN intertwine in the American fabric. Ya girl is at prom!!
— Hannah Shraim on her feelings after prom

Text, photos, and audio by Jacquelyn Martin

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