Last Friday, a Philadelphia mom got national publicity after she threw an elaborate Dubai-themed prom send-off for her son. The $25,000 extravaganza included a live camel, three tons of sand, a Rolls Royce and Lamborghini, custom-designed gowns for his three separate dates and—most controversially– two cakes, one depicting the Quran, and another depicting a man prostrate on a prayer mat.
Mom Saudia Shuler’s Instagram video of the two cakes has attracted more than 116,000 views in the past three days, along with several comments accusing her of cultural appropriation and disrespecting Islam.
“You [are] disrespecting Muslims who really practice this religion and are mocking them,” another Instagram user wrote. “Pure ignorance, proms are not part of the religion and you disrespect Islam by making cakes resembling the Quran and surahs that we recite during prayer. Whoever you are and whoever contributed to this event took disrespect to a whole new level by doing this in the Holy month of Ramadan. You can block me, which you probably will do but you can’t block Allah, verily he is just and strict in punishment.”
By deadline, Shuler didn’t respond to Heat Street’s request for comment.
But in an interview with CBS Philly, Shuler said her son, Johnny Eden Jr., is not only an all-star student but also a devout Muslim. She said that when she suffered several health ailments in recent years, including cancer and a stroke, her son’s Muslim faith helped him endure.
“I was on my death bed a few years ago,” she said. “My son took it real hard. He believed in Allah so bad. He is Muslim. I am not. So that is what kept him strong.”
But several Muslim took issue with the cakes being included in a celebration that included young women in revealing dresses; one of the prom dates appears to be Muslim, wearing an outfit that included a head covering. But two of other women Eden took to prom wore more Western formal attire.
“This is haram on various levels and viewpoints from the music to the skimpy dresses to the wasting of money,” one commenter posted on Shuler’s Instagram. “Do you know what Allah says about that?”
“So completely and utterly disrespectful, making a mockery of Islam, and only a Kaffir would think otherwise,” posted one Instagram user, using the word for “disbeliever” and imploring Shuler to seek forgiveness.
“This is very sad and very disrespectful,” another commenter wrote. “May Allah have mercy on this family.”