Subject : Islamic Ruling on Driver`s Responsibility for Traffic Accidents
Fatwa Number : 408
Date : 23-12-2009
Classified : Current Issues
Fatwa Type : Search Fatawaa

Question :

From the perspective of sharia, how responsible is a driver for traffic accidents?

The Answer :

Praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds.

Realism and tolerance are inherent features of Islamic Sharia. Its provisions regulate human life for the best interest of society, which is responsible, before Allah, for enjoining kindness and forbidding iniquity. In fact, the jurisprudential rulings related to roads are both old and new, and some of the familial tragedies caused by traffic accidents constitute violations of Sharia and, at the same time, a civilizational backwardness for which we pay a costly price, human life.

According to Islamic Sharia, public roads belong to all people, so they must be used in a manner that respects the sanctity of the road and preserves the safety of others. In this regard, Jurists have issued the following rulings:

1- Whoever digs a hole in a public road, with or without the permission of the authority in charge, is liable for whatever harm befalls the passersby as a result. Rather, if that hole led to someone`s death, then the one who had dug it must pay the Diyah (Blood money) of that victim and fast for two continuous months in expiation (Kafarah).

2- Whoever throws peels of banana or melon and the like or spills oil causing someone to slip and sustain injury or die, then the offender will be held accountable for that before Allah and the law.

3- Whoever sells goods in a place not set for that purpose will be held liable for any harm befalling passersby. Jurists have actually mentioned plenty of examples, which boil down to one fact and that is whoever uses the public road in a manner that violates the teachings of Sharia is liable for misconduct, must guarantee any harm and has incurred sin. We could apply the aforementioned rules on modern means of transportation:

Departments specialized in road safety measures have decided what follows:

1- A Motorist must fulfill certain requirements.

2- A vehicle must meet certain specifications.

3- A motorist must adhere to road signs and traffic rules. These conditions haven`t been introduced needlessly or meant to restrict personal freedom. Rather, experts in this field have agreed on them to preserve the safety of the motorists. Consequently, whoever violates these incurs sin regardless of whether he has inflicted harm on himself or others, because endangering self or others is a sin for which a person will be held accountable before Allah, first, and those in charge, second. For example, one who kills himself or someone else because of not adhering to road safety rules has committed suicide or murder, as stated in many Fatwas that I (Late Grand Mufti Sheikh Nooh Al-Qhodaat) have issued to be cleared from liability before Allah, and we all know the divine penalty for such person. As for those who intend to exempt an offender from liability by claiming that road accidents are predestined, I say that they have confused concepts and abstained from ruling according to the teachings of Sharia. This is because we all know that a person dies when his/her time comes, but does that mean acquitting the killer!

The killer didn`t commit the act of killing because he pre-knew the victim`s destiny and wanted to fulfill it. Rather, he did so willingly. According to Sharia, accidental killing entails paying Diyah (Blood money) to the family of the victim and observing fast for two continuous months in expiation. In other words, such person is sinful because he didn`t exercise extreme caution and the same ruling applies to the driver who doesn`t adhere to traffic safety measures. The One who had taught us to believe in divine decree is The One who ordered us to fulfill rights and ensure the punishment of offenders. Members of our community differentiate between accidents in which none has anything to do with and accidents that happen as a result for carelessness and indifference.

The record must be set straight and each citizen must realize that he is accountable before Allah and the law for preserving his life and the lives of others, and managing to escape worldly punishment doesn`t mean not getting punished in the Hereafter since Allah Says (What means): "and kill not one another. Lo! Allah is ever Merciful unto you." {An-Nisa`, 29}. And Allah The Almighty Knows Best.



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