Not wearing helmet should be declared haram – By Fa Abdul

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Last week, Federal Territory mufti Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri was seen riding a motorcycle without a helmet. He later apologised, claiming that he was rushing to a moon-sighting programme on the eve of Ramadhan and did not have the time to prepare a helmet.

While many netizens praised the good old mufti for having the decency to admit his mistake, out came a statement from JPJ’s Director General who defended the mufti, claiming that he didn’t commit any offence as there is an exception to the safety helmet law for those wearing serban (turban) for religious purposes.

This incident reminded me of the story I once wrote for FMT back in 2015. It was about my dear aunty who became paralysed after being knocked off the motorcycle she was riding. Like the Federal Territory mufti, my aunty too was rushing to send her grandchild back home and did not wear her helmet. Clearly, her hijab failed to protect her. One year of living in the state of vegetation, she passed away in a nursing home.

Ever since then, I have been trying my personal best to encourage people not to abandon the helmet when riding motorcycles. I have even written a few articles, particularly on demanding the authorities to enforce the helmet-wearing laws especially for children.

Sadly, until today it is a norm in Malaysia to see children without proper helmets being sandwiched between adults riding on motorcycles.

And now with this new incident involving the mufti and the statement by the JPJ Director General, I wonder what kind of message they are giving out to the public – Are they saying it is okay not to protect themselves with helmets because as long as they have their religious headgears on, God will ensure they remain safe and protected? BS.

Back in 1995, the Malaysian National Fatwa Committee for Islamic Affairs announced a ruling that smoking is forbidden (haram). According to Muslim scholars, it is so evident that smoking may cause extensive health damages, hence should in no way be practised by Muslims. This was followed with the rulings against e-cigarette one decade later in a few states.

When making the ruling, the chairman of the National Fatwa Council said, “The council finds that the consumption of something that is harmful, whether direct or indirectly, purposely or not, could lead to harm or death; so this will not be allowed.”

And we are not alone, because authorities in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar to mention a few, also issued fatwas banning cigarettes and e-cigarettes using similar reasons, that smoking is detrimental to health.
If we follow the same basic principles, should we also not declare not wearing helmets as exposing oneself to harm and death, hence haram?

Why then do we accept rulings which carries penalty for some wrongdoings (such as smoking) but turn others (such as not wearing helmets) into a moral issue?

At the end of the day, is it not the obligation of every Muslims to preserve one’s health and safety?

Furthermore, aren’t there already too many evidence available on dangers of riding motorcycles without wearing safety helmets?

Let us not forget, the Quran too enjoins people not to kill themselves (Al-Baqarah, 4:29) and not to make their hands contribute to their own destruction (An-Nisa, 2:195). Clearly, by choosing not to wear a helmet, one is committing the very act specified in the two last verses.

Using the same basic principles mentioned in those verses, in 2012 The Grand Mufti and head of the fatwa department at the Dubai Fatwa Centre has declared it a sin to violate traffic rules, claiming that failure to take safety precautions such as wearing seat belts and helmets reflects ignorance of Islamic teachings.

Rejecting claims that safety is in God’s hand as “completely wrong”, the Grand Mufti said, “Islam impels every road user to comply with traffic rules … it is a sin not to. Drivers and passengers must always wear seat belts. The seat belt is a means of protection not the protector – the real protector is Allah indeed, but He never advised people against taking safety precautions.”

“Any means of protection that can minimise the outcome of an accident must be followed by Muslims and whoever holds something contrary to this must be ignorant of what Islam is and what its prudent teachings are,” he added.

As a nation led by authorities who are always so obsessed to turn everything Islamic and syariah compliant, I ask you, why have we yet to declare not wearing helmets as haram?

Perhaps the kind Federal Territory mufti could enlighten us all.

*This is the personal opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Kuala Lumpur Post.