S’porean woman disgusted with Sultan Mosque’s ‘anti-homeless’ sign, people react
But apparently, it has more to do with water conservation.
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Through social media, one can spread awareness and educate the public about lesser-known issues like say, homelessness in Singapore.
One Twitter user thought she was doing just that by @imurmotherinlaw pointing out a sign that was placed outside Sultan Mosque’s toilet, which according to her, shows “anti-homeless rules”.
saw this at Masjid Sultan and i am just disgusted that they would put anti-homeless rules in a masjid?? a house of God???
(trns: NO WASHING CLOTHES
NO BATHING) pic.twitter.com/RnAey82xAS
— ⚒ur muslim comrade⚒ (@imurmotherinlaw) February 24, 2018
What sign says
These rules include prohibiting guests from doing their laundry and showering in the mosque’s restroom.
According to the the tweet, she felt disgusted and thought that a mosque is supposed to be “a place of refuge”.
The tweet received more than 800 retweets, and of course, sparked reactions across the local Twitterverse.
For example, one Twitterer told her to direct her sentiments and suggestions to the mosque instead of posting it on social media.
Another shared that ultimately, a mosque is a place of worship and not somewhere to sleep.
One even asked if the mosque has any shower facilities in the first place (which, apparently, they don’t).
“Does the mosque have any shower facilities? If they do, then this tweet makes some sense.”
And maybe labelling the rules as “anti-homeless” was a bit of an exaggeration.
Masjid Sultan responds
Despite the whole hullabaloo, the question still remains unanswered: Why are people not allowed to shower or do their laundry in the mosque?
That is until @MalayVines emailed a representative of Sultan Mosque to clarify.
Turns out, the rules had little to no anti-homeless intentions.
The answer to why they put those signs is to conserve water & do not want people who have to go for prayers to wait and queue for so long.
They have NEVER done this sign to promote anti-homeless. pic.twitter.com/wONuRBWzBe
— MalayVines™ (@MalayVines) February 27, 2018
Here’s the breakdown of the reply from Zainal Abidin Omar, manager for Sultan Mosque:
Gazetted national monument
According to Zainal’s email, the restrooms in the mosque were never meant for doing laundry and showering.
The 194-year-old mosque was gazetted as a national monument in 1975.
As such, the mosque has the right to preserve and maintain the purposes of these facilities in line with the National Heritage Board Act, whose mission is “to preserve and celebrate our shared heritage”.
“The purpose of setting up the restrooms are not meant for laundrying and showering in the first place. Sultan Mosque has the right to preserve and maintain the main purpose of these facilities in line with the National Heritage Board Act 2009 (Revised Edition). For our sister’s information, Sultan Mosque is gazetted as a National Monument on 8th March 1975 by the Singapore Government and was built in 1824, therefore it is very important for us to comprehend its long history and it has become one of the pertinent landmarks in the modern day, Singapore.”
Aside from using the washroom for its intended purposes, the water in the mosque is mainly used for congregants to perform ablution.
As such, doing laundry and showering are considered to be one’s “personal preferences”.
The mosque has also installed water-saving devices as the government encourages the act of saving water while Prophet Muhammad was known to discourage a companion from using excessive water when taking ablution.
“Thus, the rationale of having laundrying and showering are rather personal preferences and are not in the basis of having to save Mosque utilities where Islam propagates. The Holy Prophet s.a.w has also discouraged the use of excessive water in ablution to one of his companions. As a lesson to this, Sultan Mosque, therefore has installed water saving devices in all our ablution areas to encourage water saving movement. In addition to these, our government also encourages its people to save water and not otherwise.”
Avoiding chaotic situations
Zainal also stated that by allowing the above mentioned activities, visitors and congregants of the mosques may be deprived of using the facilities and this could cause a “chaotic situation”.
“Other factors would be by having the 2 said activities would only cause chaotic tension situations whereby there will be a very long queue for our congregants who need to use the toilets are deprived from the facilities when the cubicles are being used for showering and laundrying by others. We need to be mindful on these, too.
Finally, it is through some knowledge and understanding would allow Sultan Mosque to be a place of tranquillity for worship and as Muslims, we are able to appreciate its existence with thumbs up for its clean and green environment.”
Is Sultan Mosque really anti-homeless?
Speaking to Mothership, Zainal said that while the mosque is open to visitors and anyone who wants to perform their prayers, there are organisations in Singapore that can help homeless people find homes.
“A mosque is a place of worship and welcomes anyone who wish to visit or who wants to perform their prayers in peace. In Singapore context, any homeless person can be referred to the relevant authority whom will assist in finding suitable sheltered home.”
Top image via @imurmotherinlaw’s Twitter page and Sultan Mosque’s Instagram page