If praying means others do not matter, then you are doing it wrong

Why is it necessary to make things difficult for others so one can perform one's religious obligations? Aren't Muslims taught that "Huqooqul Ibad" are very important?

I made the mistake of going out to run errands at noon today (Friday). I had forgotten what happens on Karachi roads during this time. I had also forgotten that nothing will be open.  I asked when things will get back to normal and was informed "not till after 3 pm." Outside one mall, the whole parking area had been taken over. So basically, you are not allowed to do anything on a Friday till the very late afternoon, something that is beyond my comprehension.

Also, let's talk about the roads. First of all, roads around mosques are blocked off making life a misery for those living there. But most amazingly, it seems to me that people who are going for prayers have decided that as far as they are concerned civic duty is also a "foreign agenda" against which they must take action. As a result, it is their religious duty to park their cars wherever they want, many times in the middle of the road, blocking access and exit. More dangerously, in a hurry to get to the mosque they also drive recklessly.

I fail to understand why it is necessary to make things difficult for others so one can perform one's religious obligations. Aren't Muslims taught that "Huqooqul Ibad" are very important? So when did we get to the point where consideration for your fellow human is something alien to us?

And woe betide you if you happen to question why this is happening. The responses you get often make you feel as if they are doing you a big favour by going to a mosque and praying. And this in a country where every other day not only churches and temples are attacked but even Muslims of other denominations. Why should special privilege be given to one group?

This is why it is important that secularism is promoted. And before everyone and their uncle starts coming after me for saying this, let me explain what secularism means. It means that everyone is free to perform their religious duties and everyone has equal opportunity to go to their places of worship without being targeted. It most certainly does not mean that you are not allowed to do any of the above. But it also means that when doing so you do not make life unbearable for other people.

We cannot just keep looking the other way when our rights, even little rights, like being able to drive to one's home, are taken away from us in the name of religion. In civilized societies, people go about their worship without making it look like said duties trump everything and anything else. Breaking the law of the land is not going to get you to heaven sooner.

So thank you for praying but if your praying means that other human beings do not matter, then as far as I am concerned, you are doing it wrong.

Saima Baig is a Karachi-based environmental economist, climate change consultant and a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter