A US-based academic has called for a better understanding of Islam's capacity to suit itself to new knowledge.
Ebrahim Moosa, a professor of Islamic studies at Indiana's Notre Dame University, said there was nothing in the fundamental teachings of Islam that would prevent the updating of some traditional practices to align them with new world views.
"I'm not saying everything in tradition has to be thrown out, but some elements of tradition have become outdated and anachronistic in today's world," he said in a public lecture at Nottingham University here.
He said it was necessary for Muslim jurists to use methodological approaches that would allow them to find answers from tradition as well as from the experience of contemporary life.
Referring to the controversy that raged last year following reports that two Muslim-owned laundry businesses were rejecting non-Muslim customers, he said the root of the problem was a failure to update knowledge.
He speculated that the laundry owners were either ignorant of the workings of washing machines or were wrongly advised by religious leaders without the necessary knowledge.
He said he understood that they were concerned about contamination from stains considered impure in Islam.
He quipped: "Dude, have you ever heard that water cleans stuff? Water cleans things, and it is in the shariah.
"But I know where exactly this guy is coming from. He would say that there wouldn't be sufficient water if you washed your clothes in a washing machine and that you need to wash your clothes in a big tub or the swimming pool to clean them.
"He goes into technicalities without knowing that there is an unlimited supply of water channelled into the washing machine, which spins it out and cleans it all.
"Furthermore, a person who knows how a laundrette works would understand that you don't wash clothes together in one machine.
"But he might be thinking, 'Isn't the cylinder contaminated?' That is completely crazy. The cylinder is made of steel, and there is a lot of water going through the cylinder. So you are not going to find any traces of pork oil.
"Even if there is, God is very forgiving. He is not going to sit there with a magnifying glass and ask how much of pork DNA there is in your clothes."