THERE has been a hue and cry over the decision of a launderette owner in Muar, Johor, to limit his facility to Muslim customers.
The owner was accused of warped thinking, and being a narrow-minded religious bigot guilty of discriminatory practices.
Let us examine the case rationally. Has he committed a crime? He runs a licensed business and there is no law prohibiting him from choosing his customers.
It may or may not be a good business decision in limiting his clientele, but he is willing to risk it because of his conviction.
He has every right to do what he thinks is right as long as he does not contravene the law.
If his actions cause inconvenience and bad feelings, it is more of an ethical and moral question on the responsibility of a businessman and a member of the community. But it is within his purview to undertake such a course of action based on his Islamic conviction.
Islam is a rational and flexible religion that allows a certain amount of leeway in its practice, depending on the circumstances.
There is of course no compromise on akidah and the basic prohibitions of eating pork, imbibing alcohol, gambling, usury, adultery, sodomy and backbiting (fitnah).
We seem to be highlighting trivial matters. The authorities should be concerned with pertinent and serious matters such as incest, drug abuse among Malay teenagers, and baby dumping. They need to address a host of economic, moral and social problems and corrupt practices of Muslims.
Our problem is that sometimes we cannot see the forest for the trees and read into incidents beyond what they actually are according to our emotional and sectarian expediency.
For now, an honest and law-abiding launderette owner is being vilified for wanting to fulfil his religious obligations by people who want to create the world in their own image.
Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin, Universiti Sains Malaysia Penang