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I didn't understand the recent row over offering namaaz in public spaces in Haryana and elsewhere in the country? What's wrong if the Muslims offering namaaz on road aren't stopped to do so? Only in the last two decades or so, this sanctimonious displaying mentality of the followers of all man-made faiths has become disturbingly obvious.

The Haryana CM Khattar is right on this count that ' Muslims should offer namaaz only in mosques and not public spaces.' 'Khaaf idistan namaaz-o-rasheef, mee cheen azd masjid fa' daaz il qambeer taghzir' (If ever I offer namaaz, I shall offer it either at the mosque or my home; I can't display my religiosity in public). The great mystic Khaqani wrote in Dari.

Yaas Yagana Changezi said succinctly, 'Namaazein ata hoti hain faqat masjidon ya ghar mein/ Koi momin mazhab ka sadak pe rachata swaang nahin' (Namaaz should be offered only at the mosque or home/A true Muslim doesn't flaunt it in public).

Any religious practice or act is very private. Namaaz is an 'individualistic private act of a devout' (to quote Persian-Arabic scholar A K S Lambton). When it's offered on road, park or in public spaces, its religious and 'divine' significance is seriously compromised.

When bedouins of Arab Peninsula were embracing Islam directly from Muhammad a little over 1400 years ago, they had no homes. One of the neo-Muslims among the bedouins asked Muhammad as to where to offer namaaz because very few mosques came up at that time. Muhammad said, 'Wa'razt Mazafil' (Under a roof). It was a cryptic reply. Then one of the twelve companions of Muhammad explained that the Prophet meant that the act of offering namaaz must be under a roof.

Those who're aware of the topography of the Arab peninsula during Muhammad and early Islam's times, will know that there were very big caves in the mountains and the inside of those caves was very cool and comfortable. Muhammad ordered that the neo-Muslims must go inside the caves and offer their namaaz there. Imagine, this happened during his era! And the nincompoop Muslims of this age are gathering on roads to offer namaaz and desecrating a very private, personal and pious act.

Even in Saudi, the centre and root of Islam, you'll never find any Muslim or a group of Muslims offering namaaz outside even during winters. There could be certain restricted religious occasions when namaaz can be offered in a public space but it's extremely rare and known as 'Fahdaaz' (10th century Arabic word used in the context of religious leniency).

Now not just Muslims, all followers have made their private religious practices as something openly public and vociferous. To quote Nida Fazli, 'Sadak pe namaazein, sadak pe aarti/Humari in harkaton pe bhagwan ko sharm nahin aati?' (Namaaz and aarti on roads/Isn't god embarrassed by our boisterous religious display?).

Religion is a very private affair. Confine it to your shrine or home. Why should one bring it to road to demean it? We all seem to have become too fanatic and adamant when it comes to religion. It's time to sit and ponder over what the mankind has got by indulging in these inane religious practices?

But, we'll never exercise our grey cells when it comes to religion. We'd rather be ruined than changed.

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