Posted by: Dawud Israel | May 13, 2014

Driving as a Muslim

Everytime I drive I contemplate lessons in driving and slowly its grown on me.

In Islam even shoes are considered a vehicle, so it doesn’t matter how impressive your car is – its all about its function as a conveyance. It may be the more features your car has, the more headache it causes you (ie. beeping if you don’t have your belt on, expensive repair costs) so I feel there is more baraka in humbler vehicles. I drive with hadith books in my car for protection and ease. Sometimes I have water bottles in the trunk for wudhu while commuting. I do dhikr while driving and in the midst of potential accidents its kept me safe, alhamdulillah. People often curse their car when in difficulty, but if I stay silent, make shukr when things go good, or say good things about my car, I find more khayr in it the next time I drive. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa alihi wa salam) named his camels and donkeys and cared for them – he didn’t beat and curse them. Those are ways in which I have found baraka in my ride. Often we find ourselves in situations of stress, being late or stuck in traffic or driving low on gas. These are situations of sabr and tawakkul.

Driving itself is not so much about you as it is about those around you. If you make the intention (niyyah) for benefiting those around you through driving, then it can be an act of worship. Driving is very different for a passenger than for someone who has their hands safely on the wheel to cushion themselves. Learning to drive in a way that keeps passengers comfortable is sometimes overlooked by independent minded people, but if you don’t learn it then no one will want to share a journey with you. I suppose thats how it is with many things in life like marriage and community. When you are on the highway and a car approaches in the opposite direction, you turn down your hi-beams so it doesn’t blind their vision. If another car is blinding your vision, you flicker your car’s headlights as a warning, for yourself but also the cars that will come behind you. Driving slow can annoy those driving behind you but it also helps them obey the rules of the road and save them from a speeding ticket. Overtaking cars or being flippant while driving long distances could end up being a problem later. In the night time, when the roads are rough and its dark, cars driving long distances often stick together on the highway, in case something happens to them, at least others are near to help. Sometimes on a highway, you slow down looking for opening in lane next to you, and the car in that lane does the same trying to get into your lane and you don’t realize it. This reminds me of how you never know other people’s intentions but can be blinded by your own.

Parking is another everyday example of thinking of others. Parking can be easy but harder if  you park so that adjacent cars can get in and out of their cars easily. Thinking of others in narrow constraints is where it can really count. Speed bumps force us to slow down like Islamic prohibitions do and as obstacles protect people walking by. At 4-way intersections, it is sometimes better to let others go first but often its better to not wait for others, but to just rush sometimes, in order to save everybody’s time. If you think of one person, thats good but you may be hurting 2 other people. So sometimes putting yourself first is the same as putting others first and that has to do with leadership and courage even. At other times, you can stop slower than usual at a four way stop so other cars are quick to go first. Its almost a way of being silent with your car. A way of leading by silence.

There are other good acts one can do in their car. Carrying granola bars in your car to give to homeless people as you walk by. Something Canadians do is buy Tim hortons coffee in the drive-thru for the car that is immediately behind them as a nice surprise. Keeping booster cables to help cars stuck on the road and shovels in your trunk to dig cars stuck in the snow out in the winter is also a must for a practicing believer. It requires you to go out of your way to help a complete stranger. Parking far from the masjid so others can park near is another khayr one can intend and gives one extra hasanat with each extra footstep.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

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