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ROS LBoard 1

Much ado about a laundrette

October 19, 2017

If water is used to clean religiously unclean people, the same principle can be applied to the clothes put in washing machines.


laundry-washing-machine-laundrette-1By Tan Jin Huat

The now-famous laundrette issue has turned into a constitutional question of who has the final say on matters regarding Islam in this country. It is not my intention to discuss the legality of this issue.

But I am interested in the laundrette issue. I find that the justification for a Muslims-only laundrette is rather weak.

Let me provide another way of looking at the issue.

When religious people speak of the uncleanliness of persons, how do they become clean again?

In ritual ablutions, water is used; better still, running water to clean an unclean person, often to prepare that person to perform his religious duties or for any other religious reason. It is water that cleanses the person.

In a laundrette, different people may use the washing machines at different times, and it is never a case of mixing the clothes of Muslims and non-Muslims at any one time. They are washed at different times, one after the other.

A washing machine has running water going through it, which ensures that all the clothes are clean at the end of the washing cycle. So just as a person is washed clean, the clothes are also washed clean and cannot be regarded as soiled anymore.

When the next person uses the same washing machine, the machine has cleaned the dirty clothing and is itself clean for the next person’s use. If this is so, what is the problem with people of different races or religions using the same machine to wash their clothes? I do not see any.

In light of what has been written, the justification for having a Muslims-only laundrette seems to be really hazy thinking and perhaps even quite juvenile.

My purpose is to provide some light to help defuse a situation that is getting tense.

Hopefully, as thinking Malaysians, we can learn not to be provocative or divisive in our multi-cultural nation through what we say and teach, as we have a long tradition of moderation and acceptance of diversity.

Tan Jin Huat is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.


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