Home Civil Society Voices 2017 Civil Society Voices ‘Muslims-only’ launderette: Segregation policy not welcome

‘Muslims-only’ launderette: Segregation policy not welcome

Photograph: Free Malaysia Today

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Sisters in Islam is disappointed by the recent implementation of a Muslims-only policy adopted by a self-service launderette in Muar.

The policy adopted by the launderette is yet another divisive policy that will further segregate and isolate our multi-racial and multi-religious communities from each other. As Malaysians, we need to be guided by our Constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on faith, among others. This will surely be seen by non-Muslims as a form of discrimination against them.

If this is allowed to continue, what other forms of discrimination would be imposed upon them in the future? We urge the religious authorities and religious leaders of Johor to take a moderate and enlightened approach to this, advising for tolerance and community building lest it becomes the norm rather than an isolated case.

It is becoming very alarming that week upon week we witness a growing number of incidences where there is discrimination premised on the Islamic faith. Islam is a religion of fairness and justice and has high regard for dignity in humanity. Islam in its time of advancement and leadership always existed side by side with people of other faiths and ways of life.

This type of simplistic interpretation of “what Islam requires of its ummah” is a danger to the racial diversity that we as Malaysians (including Malaysian Muslims) have always cherished. This is causing such great disunity in our beautiful nation.

Implementing such a policy in a multi-racial community enforces segregation and puts the community at risk of having racial disharmony or tension. It perpetuates the idea that non-Muslim communities are unclean.

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The perception that non-Muslims are considered unclean and thus unable to mix their laundry with the Muslims is, in simple terms, prejudice and bigotry. It should be seen as such and not as an excuse of “Islamic requirements”. It is an assumption which has no basis. In fiqh, the assumption that a Muslim applies to his or her daily life is that so long as there is no concrete proof that a cloth has been contaminated with impurities, it is considered to be clean.

Islam is a the religion that does not burden the ummah, and this was mentioned in a Hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah as follows: the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the afternoons, and during the last hours of the nights” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Iman, no: 39).

Sisters in Islam would like to urge that the utmost priority should be given to our values such as tolerance, openness and empathy towards others regardless of gender, religion, faith and race. These are the values that a true believing Muslim should hold fast to.

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