[Friday Sermon] The Manners And Etiquettes Of Driving In Islam, By Imam Murtada Gusau


By Imam Murtada Gusau,

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent and the Most Merciful

Alhamdulillah. Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil within ourselves and from our wrongdoings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide; and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.

I bear witness that there is no (true) god except Allah – alone without a partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAW) is His ‘abd (servant) and Messenger.

“O you who have believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do not die except as Muslims.”(Surah Ali-Imraan, 3:102)

“O people! Revere your Lord who has created you from a single soul, created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them many men and women. Revere Allah through whom you demand things from one another and (cherish the ties of) the wombs, indeed, Allah is ever watchful over you.” (Surah An-Nisaa’, 4:1)

“O you who have believe! Revere Allah and say fair words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger have certainly achieved a great victory.”(Surah Al-Ahzaab, 33:70-71)

Indeed, the best speech is Allah’s (SWT) Book and the best guidance is Muhammad’s (SAW) guidance. The worst affairs (of religion) are those innovated (by people), for every such innovation is an act of misguidance leading to the Fire.

My respected people,

From the rapid pace of development and change the modern world continues to see, it is from the blessings of Allah given to mankind through which they continue to benefit and enjoy the results from these technological and scientific advancements. Less than two hundred years ago and before the advent of the motorized vehicle, mankind was (still) riding beasts of transport such as horses and donkeys and cattle. We continue to engineer and produce a wide range and variety of motor vehicles that are better, stronger, faster and more efficient – in the form of cars and motorcycles – and other than them.

Allah (SWT) Said in His Magnificent Book:

“And (He has created) horses, mules and donkeys, for you to ride and as an adornment. And He creates (other) things of which you have no knowledge.” (Surah an – Nahl: 8)

Brothers and Sisters,

All praise and thanks is for Allah, by whose generosity and blessings we enjoy the ease of social mobility today. With the provision of many modes of transportation, we need to continually show our gratitude through upholding all the noble and praiseworthy characteristics that Islam imbibes in a person. From amongst these attributes is being responsible and exemplifying best of manners in everything that we do. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:

“The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character.” (Saheeh al-Bukhari, 4/759)

For those of us who drive or ride any type of transport, we need to remember these encompassing words of the Prophet (SAW) – From the manners and etiquettes of driving, the following are amongst the most crucial points we need to understand and implement inshaa Allah:

  1. Ad-du’a (invocation) when entering the vehicle.

It is important that we follow the Sunnah in all matters specified and taught to us by the Prophet (SAW) when we set our foot inside the vehicle (or on the motorcycle or plane), we say Bismillah, followed by the following prescribed azkaar:

‘Ali ibn Rabi’ah said, “I saw an animal brought to ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) and when he set his foot on it, he said “Bismillah” and when he was on his back, he said, “Al Hamdulillah”. Then he invoked:

“Subhanal lazi sakhkhara lana haza wa ma kunna lahu muqrineen.”  Meaning: “Glory is to Him who has provided this (transport) for us and we would not have been capable of that.”

Then he said, “Al Hamdulillah” three times and then said “Allahu Akbar” three times and then supplicated:

“Glory is to You (O Allah), I have wronged myself (so) forgive me, for none forgives sins except you.” [See Sunan Abi Da’wud, 2602; At-Tirmidhi, 3446 and An-Nasa’i in ‘Al-kubra’, 8799, 8800 and 10,336 – classed as saheeh by Al-albani in ‘Mukhtasar ash-Shama’il al-Muhammadiyya’ , 198]

When going on a longer journey or travelling out of town or city, the following du’a is recommended:

“In the name of Allah and all praise is for Allah. How perfect He is, the One Who has placed this (transport) at our service and we ourselves would not have been capable of that, and to our Lord is our final destiny. All praise is for Allah, All praise is for Allah, All praise is for Allah, Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest. How perfect you are, O Allah, verily I have wronged my soul, so forgive me, for surely none can forgive sins except you.” 

  1. Not violating Traffic Rules when Driving.

From our religious obligations is to obey the leaders and people of authority and this also includes those put in charge of governmental affairs like health, education and transport for example. These agencies have put in place rules and regulations that make for safe environments for peoples to operate in and extract maximum benefits from. A key objective for transport authorities is to preserve life and maintain safety on the roads by enforcing responsible driving. From these examples are the requirements for having a driving license to show evidence of competency. From these examples are car registration documents to prove ownership and road worthiness of the vehicle. From these examples are the wearing of seat-belts and helmets and many other examples like them. Then there is also the ‘Highway Code’ that lays out traffic rules such as obeying road signs, not speeding beyond the stated limits, stopping at pedestrian crossings and many other necessities like that. Abiding by them all is our duty as drivers and riders, in obedience to authority.

Allah (SWT) said in His Magnificent Book:

“O you who have believe. Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those of you who are in authority.” (Surah an-Nisaa’:59)

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:

“Hear and obey the ruler in (any) case that one loves or dislikes as long as he is not ordered to sin, in which case there is no hearing and obeying.” (See Saheeh al-Bukhari, 6725; Muslim, 1839; At-Tirmidhi, 1707 and others)

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) also said:

“There is no obedience in sin (and transgression).” (Al-Bazzar, 9/81; Fath al-Baari, 13/132 – classed as saheeh by Ahmad Shakir in ‘Umdah at -Tafseer’, 1/531)

And he also said:

“There is no obedience to the creation (when it involves) sin (and disobedience) to the Creator” (Saheeh al-jaami’, 7520)

Al-Mubarakpuri Rahimahullah commented in his book ‘Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi about the first Hadeeth above; and stated that:

“There is the argument (in the Hadeeth) that shows if the ruling authority orders in cases that are regarded as permissible, then it is obligatory for Muslims to obey. Listening to and obeying the ruling authority is obligatory upon every Muslim, whether the authorities order him to do something that is in accordance with the individual’s wishes or not. However, if the condition of the order involves immorality (sin and transgression), then there is no obedience in that…” [See Al-Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi, 5/298]

Therefore, if the ruling authority makes mandatory, the wearing of helmets and seat-belts and obeying traffic laws etc. then it is obligatory for a Muslim to obey as this also comes under the principle of ‘public interest’. This is because they are designed to regulate road safety and protect lives and property.

Shaykh ‘Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbad, the Muhaddith of Madinah Hafizahullah explained that:

“Complying with road signs and traffic lights endorsed by the government is compulsory. And if the traffic laws change (and there is nothing within them that deem them impermissible) then the ruling remains the same (i.e. compulsory to comply) on the basis of the above evidence.”

  1. Not being Reckless on the Road.

Recklessness usually results from being careless; and this certainly is not from the characteristics of a Muslim. The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said, as recorded by At-Tirmidhi:

“Be keen with what is beneficial for you, and seek help from Allah and do not be reckless.”

The Prophet (SAW) also said in a very poignant hadeeth:

“There is no harm and no reproaching harm.”

Thus paying attention to one’s own safety and the safety of others when driving reflects the objectives of Shari’ah, which guarantees the sanctity of: i) Life ii) Deen (Religion) iii) Honour iv) Wealth and v) intellect. Thus carelessness or recklessness in anything goes against the spirit of these objectives and can prove detrimental. Let us not take risks that can cause serious injury or the loss of life – From the poignant guidance given by the Prophet (SAW) during his farewell sermon, he said:

“Verily (Allah has made) your blood and wealth and your honour sacred, just as this day in this month and in this land that is sacred…” (See Saheeh Muslim, 1218)

These things are sacred and thus prohibited in the strongest terms to be violated. Furthermore, creating fear from (deliberate) acts of recklessness is not permissible as it subjects the occupants of the car and other road users and pedestrians to intimidation and fear. The Prophet (SAW) said:

“It is not permitted for a Muslim to frighten, intimidate (or create fear etc.) for another Muslim.” (See Abu Da’wud, 5004; see also At-Tirmidhi, 4/462; Mu’jam al Awsat, 1673 and others – classed as saheeh by Al-Albani)

Within this principle, we understand that anything that frightens or scares, intimidates, horrifies or causes unjust panic is not permitted; and these are the usual effect of recklessness. The most common examples of traffic violations result from reckless and rash actions and from among these are the following:

  1. Speeding
  2. Illegal Parking
  • Using Mobile Phone

Each one of these violations arises from reckless driving and making rash decisions. Their effects on those involved can range from being mere nuisance to leading to fatality. Speeding and using mobile phones while driving comes from haste and impatience. The Prophet (SAW) said:

“Deliberation is from Allah and haste is from the Shaytan (Satan).” (See Al-Bayhaqi, Sunan al-kabeer, 10/104; Shu’ab al-Imaan, 4/89; Musnad Abi Ya’la, 3/1054 (#4256) – classed hasan by ibn Hajar and Al-Albani (see ‘Silsilah as-Saheehah’, 4/404)

It is therefore critical that Muslims bide their time, be patient and not take any unnecessary risks that would jeopardize people’s lives and property.

Anas ibn Malik (R.A) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) was on a journey and he had a servant called Anjasah, who was driving the camels very fast while there were women riders on those camels. The Prophet (SAW) said rebuking him:

“Woe to you O Anjasah, Hold on (ride slowly) with the glass vessels (i.e. the women passenger).” (See Saheeh al-Bukhari, 6149 and Muslim, 2323)

Imam Nawawi commented on this Hadeeth and said that:

“It was intended for Anjasah to slow down the pace of driving the camels because the speed would shock and fatigue the passengers. Thus he (SAW) forbade him from chanting (to hasten the camels on) and to hold on tightly because the severity of movement would weaken the women passengers and risk their health.” (See Sharh Saheeh Muslim, 15/81)

  1. Road Rage.

Road rage is connected to anger and the loss of control over one’s behaviour and speech, which begin to exhibit aggression. In drivers, such behaviour may include gesturing, verbal insults or threats, deliberately driving in an unsafe manner etc. Road rage can lead to altercations, assaults and collisions that result in injuries and even deaths. It can be thought of as an extreme case of aggressive driving and from amongst the many manifestations of road rage are the following:

  • General aggressive driving, including sudden acceleration, braking and close tailgating
  • Cutting others off in a lane or deliberately preventing someone from merging into a lane.
  • Chasing other motorists, flashing lights and/or sounding the horn excessively.
  • Yelling or exhibiting rude physical gestures at pedestrians or other roadside establishments.

My respected people,

Anger is an emotion that inspire action and the action that is inspires is usually one of injury and injustice. It is a powerful emotion that rages through a person, creating a desire for revenge and the need to strike out at the object of anger. Such is the destructive nature of anger and uncontrolled aggression that when the man asked the Prophet (SAW) for advice, he responded in each of the three times he was asked:

 “Do not get angry” (See Saheeh al-Bukhari, 6116 – see also fath al Baari; 10/456)

Below are four points derived from Islamic texts that will help Muslim drivers (and others) to overcome their anger in various circumstances…

  1. Seeking refuge in Allah from Shaytan (Satan)

The first and foremost of all advice is seeking refuge in Allah from Shaytan (Satan) and from the evils in ourselves and from our wrong doings. The Prophet (SAW) gave us a prescription as is narrated by Sulayman ibn Sard (RA) that:

“Two men were arguing with (and blaming) each other. The face of one became red and his jugular veins swelled. The Prophet (SAW) said: ‘I know a statement if spoken by him his anger would subside: ‘Audhubillahi minash shaytannir rajeem’ – (I seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan the accursed).” (See Saheeh al-Bukhari, 3060, 5679, and 5617)

Imam Mawardi Rahimahullah said in his book ‘Adab ad-Dunya wad-Deen’ that:

“One should remember Allah when Angry as this leads to fear of Allah, which in turn leads him to obey Him and restrain ones anger by returning to proper manners and conduct.”

  1. Understanding the merits of controlling one’s anger

There are incalculable rewards in the Qur’an and Sunnah for a person who controls his anger. Here I cite but a few of them. Allah (SWT) said:

“…who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinuun (the good-doers).” (Surah Ali-Imraan: 134)

He (SWT) also said:

“Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e. don’t punish them).” (Surah Al-A’raaf:199)

Imam Ibn Katheer, the famous Qur’an commentator records the following narrations in his Tafseer of this verse (Ayah):

“Hashim bin ‘Urwah said that his father said, “Allah ordered Allah’s Messenger to pardon the people for their behaviours”…. In Saheeh al-Bukhari, it is recorded that Hisham reported from his father ‘Urwah from his brother ‘Abdullah bin Azzubayr who said; “Show forgiveness” was only revealed about the people’s [bad] character” ….. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) asked Jibreel about the meaning of this Ayah and Jibreel replied: “Allah Commands you to forgive those who wronged you, give to those who deprived you.” [See Tafseer ibn Katheer, Surah al-A’raaf for more detail]

At-Tabarani records in his collection that the Prophet (SAW) said:

“Whoever controls his temper, then Allah will take away punishment from him and whosever safeguards his tongue Allah will conceal his sins.”

 In the collection of Tirmidhi and Abu Da’wud, the Prophet (SAW) said:

“Whoever controls their temper in a state that if he wanted, he could have taken revenge; then on the Day of Judgment Allah will call him in front of everyone and will give him the choice of selecting the Hoor…”

 At-Tabarani and Al-Bayhaqi record a Hadeeth of Anas ibn Malik (RA) who narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:

“… Whoever restrains his anger, Allah will withhold his Punishment on the day of Judgment.”

  1. keeping silent and exhibiting wisdom

The Prophet (SAW) said:

“If any of you becomes angry, let him keep silent.” [See Musnad of Imam Ahmad 1/329]

If angry, man evaluates to knee-jerk reaction in a fit of need, therefore the Prophet (SAW) advised the one who is angry man to restrain himself through silence.

  1. Avoid being over-sensitive

Abu Sa’eed al-khudri (RA) narrated that the Messenger (SAW) mentioned anger, saying:

“Some are swift to anger and swift to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; some are slow to anger and slow to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; but the best of you are those who are slow to anger and swift to cool down, and the worst of you are those who are swift to anger and slow to cool down.” He continued, “Beware of anger, for it is a live coal on the heart of the descendant of Adam. Do you not notice the swelling of the veins of his neck and the redness of his eyes? So when anyone experiences anything of that nature he should lie down and cleave to the earth.”

  1. Taking Care of the Vehicle and not exceeding its Capacity.

Vehicles are a blessing from Allah and therefore like all of His blessings, we should take care of them and not take them for granted. This would mean we ensure they are roadworthy, mechanically and otherwise and ensure the cleanliness of them.

Abdullah ibn Ja’afar narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) was in the garden of an Ansari man and there was a camel in that garden. When the camel saw him it groaned and shed tears; the Prophet (SAW) wiped the tears and it became calm. He then inquired about the owner of the camel and when its owner appeared before him he said:

“Do you not fear Allah in this animal which Allah has put in your possession? It has complained to me that you starve it.” [See Sunan Abu Da’wud, 2190]

The Prophet (SAW) is also recorded to have said:

“…Fear Allah regarding these dumb animals. Ride them when they are in good condition and feed them when they are in good condition.”[See Sunan Abu Da’wud, 2542]

Brothers and Sisters,

In the analogy between the motorized vehicle and the camel, we find that without food and proper care, the camel will succumb to illness and sure death; while neglecting the maintenance of the vehicle would inevitably lead to its breakdown (and all the trouble and inconveniences this causes).

Regarding capacity, vehicles are designed and built according to various passenger capacity rules. Exceeding these recommended capacities again effects vehicle performance and reliability, thus risking lives. Imam Ibn Hibban recorded the following narration of the Prophet (SAW) where he said:

“Ride them when they are healthy” as evidence that one should avoid riding weak and incompetent animals until they become healthy.

In his ‘Tabaqat’, Ibn Sa’ad, records a narration from Ibn Darir who reported that he saw ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab beating a porter who had over-burdened his camel saying: “Why do you burden your camel beyond its capacity?” – And there are other examples like these. Thus a Muslim driver (and non-Muslim driver) should ensure not their vehicle is fit for purpose and also they are not taking unnecessary risks with regards to additional passengers etc.

  1. Giving Rights to the Roads.

Our roads and streets and pathways also have rights that we need to fulfill. The Prophet (SAW) said to his Companions:

“Beware of sitting on the roads, they asked:’ O Messenger of Allah, we gather and talk (in the streets), he (SAW) said: ‘Give the streets their right’. The Companions asked ‘what is their right O Messenger of Allah? He (SAW) replied: “(That you) lower your gaze and refrain from harming (disrupting) the peace and to promote the ma’ruf (virtue and goodness) and prevent the munkar (vice and evil). “ [See Saheeh al-Bukhari; and Muslim, 2121]

It becomes necessary for the driver to drive with caution in residential areas and places where there are are a lot of pedestrian activity. This also applies to the rider. From the above Hadeeth we can understand that our duty towards the roads is that we do not disturb people, respond with salaam if prompted by others. That we do not litters or cause any other sort of annoyance to other drivers and pedestrians alike.

We also need to lower our gazes from looking at forbidden things (like a non-mahram women’s awrah) or promiscuous advertising boards etc. The general command to ‘promote the ma’ruf (virtue and goodness) and prevent the munkar (vice and evil)’ includes within it every affair that a driver and a non-driver must care about while within his vehicle or outside of it. This may involve stopping people from illegal racing on public roads to advising couples engaged in public show of affection etc.

The trust placed on us by Allah through His blessings is that we at least work to utilize them to the best of our ability. Tawfeeq and all success is from Allah alone. And all praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Safar 29, 1437 AH (December 11, 2015), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-uvete Jumu’at Mosque and late Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene Mosque, Okene, Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached via: +2348038289761.