Public toilets from an Islamic perspective

Logo for Universal Design ConferenceToilets are not the same the world over, but they all need to be accessible  as Alaa Bashti points out in her poster presentation: “Accessible public toilets and restrooms from an Islamic perspective” by Alaa Bashiti, International Islamic University, Malaysia. 

Alaa Bashti poster presentation PDF


The tourism industry has become the most successful service sector, one of its leading job-creators and foreign exchange-earners. Behind this success lies a fascinating understanding of people needs taking into consideration the variety of people abilities and religions. According to Pew Research Center (2012), one such group of people who have special requirements when it comes to using restrooms are Muslims, who make up 1.5 billion, or one quarter, of the world’s population. This makes Islam the second largest religion in the world. In Malaysia and most Islamic countries, it is important to understand the ‘Islamic toilet manner’ as it can have direct implications for the design and planning of toilet facilities as Islam advocates for matters of cleanliness. Among the most crucial problems to be solved if one wants to enjoy an outing is whether one is sure to find a toilet one can comfortably use outside of home. How should toilets outside one’s dwelling be designed and distributed to ensure inclusive environment for everyone and to be used by Muslims?

This paper highlights what might be ideal standards for toilet provision, toilet design according to the Islamic principles and emphasising the importance of public toilets in creating accessible cities for everyone. In designing a public toilet, some elements should be stressed particularly on the understanding of users’ needs. With the various types of users, there is a need for a universal design of a public toilet that is always clean, comfortable and safe as well as relaxing. More than half of Malaysia’s population is Muslim as Islam is the official religion. The Department of Standard Malaysia (SIRIM) has initiated the publication of Malaysian Standards as guidelines for designers; architects, city planners, landscape architects, interior designers, and others who are involved in the construction of the built environment with universal design. Four standards on public toilets are to be developed.


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