Fast drivers make me so furious with the way they behave

Fatwas that make dangerous driving a sin are needed to make the roads safe for everyone, whether human or animal, writes Rym Ghazal.
Driving habits have become so bad that a cleric recently felt the need to release a fatwa against violators of traffic laws. Mike Young / The National 
Driving habits have become so bad that a cleric recently felt the need to release a fatwa against violators of traffic laws. Mike Young / The National 

A man is driving as his child sits on his lap. A woman driver talks on her smartphone on the motorway and swerves right and left before slowing down, the car’s movements in sync with the pace of the conversation. Another driver jumps a long queue of stationary traffic. We are all familiar with this type of driving in this region.

One time, I was so exasperated I did the unthinkable. I waved my hand at another driver who had cut me up and muttered an insult in Arabic that goes along the lines of “what, you think your father built these roads?” As luck would have it, he had. “Actually yes. My father’s company did build this road,” he said, with a wave and a smug smile.

Driving habits have become so bad, that a cleric recently felt the need to release a fatwa (religious edict) against violators of traffic laws.

Last month, Abdulaziz Al Shaikh, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, slammed drivers who went through red lights, calling such a violation a “major sin”, relating it to a Quranic verse that says “if you kill one person unjustly it is as if you killed the whole humanity, and if you saved one person it is as if you saved the whole humanity”.

This wasn’t the first time he had issued a fatwa about bad driving.

In 2010, he said that anyone who caused the death of another person because of a traffic violation is guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

While fatwas are not binding, they often highlight important issues that have been brought to the attention of the religious authorities. If a fatwa changes one driver’s mind for the better, then I am all for it.

Some of the most dangerous driving tricks come out of Saudi Arabia, and end up being posted on YouTube. Some of the drivers performing those tricks should have a proper outlet where they can show off their driving skills away from the regular roads.

Personally, I want a fatwa against the drivers who put their feet on the dashboard while driving.

I don’t want to see anyone’s toes while I am on the road, especially if the driver and sometimes the person next to him are playing with their toes.

A fatwa recently published on the UAE’s General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf) website was related to allowing someone to drive without a licence.

“Is it all right to allow a boy of 15 to drive a car to the mosque for Friday prayers?” was the question submitted, to which a mufti from Abu Dhabi replied: “Not allowed. The ends does not justify the means.”

Even if it is for a noble reason, like going to a mosque, “even if a very short quick drive”, the religious authorities would not condone violating traffic laws.

Awqaf has been issuing fatwas since 2008 in response to people’s questions about what is permissible under Sharia.

Besides respecting other drivers, there was another 2011 fatwa regarding the animals and birds that could be crossing or flying across a road. The fatwa reminded drivers that it is a “great sin” to kill animals on the road. “If an animal is killed by accident, then charity through donations should be given out as repentance,” it said.

But if the animal is killed “with intention”, or on purpose, then the act itself is ruled as “haram” (unlawful), and is considered a “great sin”.

The fatwa narrated a Hadith in which the Prophet said that a woman “entered hell because of a cat”, after she tormented it by locking it up and not feeding it.

“If there is an animal crossing the road, then stop and let it pass in peace,” said the fatwa.

Sounds basic enough, but you would be surprised how dismissive and negligent drivers are about any creature that happens to cross their path, even on slow small roads and parking lots.

Roads are dangerous, and we should never take our safety for granted, whether inside the car or outside, as the tragic death of a nine year old girl – who died in March as she tried to cross Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road – reminds us.

On Twitter:@arabianmau

Published: May 7, 2014 04:00 AM


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