Transportation and Islamic Ethics: A Linkage

Hadia Saqib Hashmi

The transportation industry is the backbone of infrastructure in logistics and it is involved with the latest technology which gives major advantages to improve the concepts in transportation. The supply chain process is the main objective of transferring goods/services through various means of transportations (by sea, by air, by land). Maintaining a strong ethical culture is essential for complying with laws and regulations, employees must be given the appropriate tools to align their company culture behaviour and engage in ethical decision-making. Ethics are important not only in business but also in all aspects of life because it is an essential part of the foundation on which a civilized society is built.

History of Transportation:

The first form of transport was walking! Before humans learned how to domesticate animals like horses and donkeys, people's only mode of travel was to walk. Around 4000 BC, humans learned to domesticate animals and, use them for transport and trade. Capable of traveling long distances and carrying heavier loads, the use of animals made travel and trade easier and more efficient, leading to trails and tracks on the land. This was the first significant development in the history of transport. First made from wood, the wheel was a simple but extremely important invention in the history of transport. Invented in Iraq, the wheel was used to create animal-drawn vehicles like the horse and carriage. The invention of the wheel allowed for the first ever vehicles of transport to be invented, like the chariot in 2000 BC, allowing for longer travel and more developed trade. In Britain, it was the Romans who created the very first road network over 2,000 years ago! The Romans required roads to develop their empire in Britain, and these same roads are still used today. However, the Romans were not the first to invent roads. Roads in Mesopotamia (now known as Iraq) have been discovered that date back to around 4000 BC. During the 18th and 19th centuries, there were significant developments in transportation due to the Industrial Revolution. Beginning in Britain, the Industrial Revolution saw the development of advanced machinery and manufacturing that changed the way the world produced and traded goods. Alongside these industrial developments, more advanced modes of transport were also created to cater to the developing world. During the Industrial Revolution, the first bicycle was made, the first motorways were invented, and the first car was built. The first car with a gas engine was made in 1886 by Carl Benz. Cars continued to develop around the world, and in 1908, the first Ford cars were manufactured in America. Now, there are over 70 million cars produced across the globe that run on petrol, battery and hydrogen.

Early forms of trains date back thousands of years. But, the first train with a steam engine was invented in 1814. Initially, trains were used to transport coal from mines. In the 1820s, the first modern trains were built using steam locomotives, and trains became a common mode of transport for many. Developed railway networks allowed people and goods to travel and be transported greater distances at a quicker speed.

The use of water to travel and trade dates back to 4000 BC, with the world's ancient civilisations using their access to rivers and seas to develop the world's first trading networks; they became essential to survival and the development of civilisations. Archaeological discoveries lead us to believe the first river boats were invented in Ancient Egypt in 3500 BC. Large sailing ships and boats allowed people to travel the seas, but it was during the Industrial Revolution that the first steamboats and motor motor-powered ships were invented. The first steamboat was built in 1807 in America.

The invention of large steam-powered boats was a significant development in the history of transportation as it allowed people to travel and trade longer distances with greater ease. The first motor-powered ship was invented in the early 1900s, these ships became essential to trading around the globe.

As people began to understand more about the Earth's atmosphere in the 17th and 18th centuries, they discovered the possibility of using the air for transport and travel. This initially came in the form of a hot air balloon. There were Muslims who firstly experimented with the airplane named Abbas bin Fernas. They have conceptualized the basic framework of airplanes. In 1902, the Wright Brothers invented the controlled, powered aircraft, named the Wright Flyer. The Wright Brothers' invention is known as one of the most significant events in the history of transportation. The first commercial flight and aeroplane was flown by De Havilland Comet in 1952.

Road Accidents and Islamic Ethics:

The number of deaths from road accidents in developing countries continues to increase each year, even though the authorities have held a variety of road safety campaigns to remind motorists to be cautious when driving. The efforts to create awareness among road users are considered a failure because, ultimately, they do not adopt a prudent attitude, do not comply with traffic rules and do not show ethical behavior while on the road.

From the overall statistics, road accidents were caused by three main factors:

Human factors (road users) with statistics of 92% of road accident has been caused by road users infringing various traffic laws for instance driving over the speed limit, careless driving, and drunk driving.

Road defects either one part of a road accident, have been caused by road and other infrastructures which are inappropriate to standard safety levels, for examples, potholes along the way and uneven roads.

Islamic ethics or better known as akhlaq or morality derives literally from the word character, in Arabic with the word al-khuluq which is the plural of the word al-akhlaq that could be defined as the habits, behaviors or temperaments and it can also be taken to represent the religion itself.

Never be arrogant on roads: In the Quran, God forbids people, including road users from being arrogant and imperious, as stated in Surah al-Isra verse 37:

Do not walk in a swank and arrogance in the face of the Earth itself, surely you will not be able to dig the Earth and will not be able to match the height of the mountains

In another verse, Allah says in Surah al-Furqan, verse 63:

Those who walk on Earth, are humble and not arrogant

The Messenger also provides a strong reminder of that attitude in saying:

Meaning: Whoever is proud of ourselves in the soul or arrogant in the way he will meet God the wrath of God in him (Ahmad in his Musnad narrated from Ibn 'Umar with this pronouncement (Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Hanbal b. Hilal b. Asad al-Shaybani)

Meaning: When a man from among the people before you walked proud and arrogant, God covered him with the Earth. The man would be in that state until the day of judgment.

In the context of road user, someone who has ethical values should not take the opportunity to show their prowess with reckless driving, speeding and overtaking recklessly, cutting the line of vehicles, racing on the road, driving to attract public attention, the use of excessive vehicle horn, turning the loudspeaker installed in a vehicle loudly without shame, disturbing the other users' peace and so on. Thus, for people who really have a high ethical values should not be cocky and arrogant on the road because it will bring danger to themselves and others. Road users should be patient and tolerant because the road is a shared property and right.

To be unharmed to oneself and others: Among the ethics for road users is not to do anything that may be harmful either to themselves or others. According to Al-Din (1978), the public has the right to use vehicles on the road with the condition that safety of road users must be paramount to avoid dangers.

It is imperative for road users to always be careful when using it to avoid any harm to other users. The neglect of this duty will deprive the road user of the right to use the road. However, this kind of situation is subject to the ability of other road users or is in a state that can be controlled by the user (Al-Dini, 1978). This is consistent with the hadith of the Prophet (SAW):

No harm to yourself and no harm (to others) (narrated by Ibn Maj ah and al-Daraqutni).

This means that every road user should follow traffic rules, such as having a driving license, owning a vehicle in perfect condition, complying with speed limits and so forth. Even within Islam itself, there are a number of penalties imposed on those who commit offenses on the road whether that involves life, the body or property (Ismail, 1999).

Some of the young motorists ride recklessly. They

ride motorcycles with a display of dangerous actions such as riding recklessly and so forth. They seem not to care about the consequences and effects that will occur due to the actions undertaken by them. This shows that they do not love their own lives when protecting and preserving life is the obligation of Islam and were among the five fundamental needs that should be fulfilled by men.

Ismail (1999) says the authorities should provide appropriate facilities to road users, such as not letting the road in danger due to holes in the road, lack of signs, the road is too narrow, situated in the high-risk landslide occurrence and so forth. This is all to refrain from all forms of harm that would befall the road users.

Avoidance of all forms of harassment: Islam stresses on avoiding all forms of interference which may affect the use of the road. This is because Islam recommends that all road users feel comfortable when using the road. This means that prevents all forms disturbance or discomfort to other road users can be avoided. These disturbances happen either in physical form, sound or sight.

God will reward those who do this. Abu Hurayra had asked Allah's Messenger about a pearl of wisdom that could be applied. Among the recommendations introduced by the Prophet (SAW) told to remove or avoid anything that may interfere with the use of the road. As the Prophet (SAW) says:

Keep away all the bother on the streets of a Muslim (narrated by Muslim (1930))

In the context of physical disorders, the Prophet (SAW) encouraged Muslims to discard any of the trees that block the use of the road. According to a hadith:

Indeed, I see someone enjoying his rewards in Paradise due to the piece of wood he banished from the roads, which could interfere with the public (narrated by Muslim (1930))

Similarly, Islam forbids men and road users from littering on the road due to its disturbance of public interest. This is because it may cause some discomfort to motorists using the road as well as ugly, damaging the natural beauty around and inviting a variety of diseases. Meanwhile, according to Nazim, Islam encourages its followers to give priority to sanitation in public places, including roads, thereby making the Muslim countries the world's cleanest states. However, this is not the case. Such practices are more practiced in Western countries and among European Muslims.

The act of throwing excrement and dirty roads are among the acts that invite the curse of Allah. This is stated in the Prophet (SA W)'s hadith which means:

Fear of three things that lead to the perpetrator to damnation: Throwing excrement in the street to the river, on the road and under a tree shelter.

Among the things that can be linked and considered to have similarities with excrements is the nauseating exhaust fumes coming out of the vehicle, which can also affect other road users because the authorities did not follow standards. When these conditions can be controlled, Nazim mentions that it is a sign of gratefulness God and one of the branches of faith to Allah (swt). Similarly, motorists should not park vehicles in public places that can prevent traffic flow, especially on relatively narrow roads (Ismail, 1995).

Thus, Islam prohibits people from doing any form of disturbance and harm to other people, either in physical or non-physical ways. Sometimes non-physical disorders are even more prevalent than physical disorders.