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Feb 25 2014

Fatwa: No Muslims on Mars

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates has issued a fatwa (it just means a religious edict despite popular misconception that it commands some sort of violence) saying that no Muslims may go on a future mission to Mars.

Promoting or being involved in a one-way trip to the Red Planet is prohibited in Islam, a fatwa committee under the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the UAE has ruled.

“Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam,” the committee said. “There is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death.”

Whoever opts for this “hazardous trip”, the committee said, is likely to perish for no “righteous reason”, and thus will be liable to a “punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter”.

The committee, presided by Professor Dr Farooq Hamada, said: “Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse 4/29 of the Holy Quran: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.”

How many people die every year attempting the Hajj to Mecca?

29 comments

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  1. 1
    Crimson Clupeidae

    Howabout a one-way exploratory trip to the sun? :D

  2. 2
    richardelguru

    But ‘Muslims on Mars’ would make such a great film.

    Sort of ‘Snakes on a Plane’ on steroids!

  3. 3
    abb3w

    So much for one hope of resolving the two Qiblah.

  4. 4
    lldayo

    So…suicide bombers who miss their target and only blow themselves up would be considered in this as well?

  5. 5
    D. C. Sessions

    How many people die every year attempting the Hajj to Mecca?

    Fewer than die every year attempting a trip to a restaurant, last I looked.

    I may not accept the predicate valuation of the Hajj vs. exploration, but within that value system the result isn’t particularly dubious.

  6. 6
    dingojack

    So This guy is a Islamic no-no, right?
    Dingo

  7. 7
    jba55

    “How many people die every year attempting the Hajj to Mecca? ”

    They respond to this in the quotes you gave, “perish for no “righteous reason””, the Hajj is something they consider not just righteous but necessary.

  8. 8
    pixiedust

    I saw the headline and tried guessing the reason before reading the piece. My guess: it would be impossible to accurately face Mecca while praying and that would endanger the Muslim astronaut.

    The actual reason was more sciencey than I had supposed.

  9. 9
    raven

    How many people die every year attempting the Hajj to Mecca?

    1. How many Moslems die every year in suicide bombings?

    2. How many Moslems die in Moslem civil wars and civil conflicts which are all happening somewhere. Right now Pakistan has numerous conflicts, Syria has a civil war, and Iraq is perennially in turmoil.

    Dr Farooq Hamada, said: “Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse 4/29 of the Holy Quran: Do not kill yourselves or one another.

    I can agree with that. Doesn’t seem that too many people in the Middle East are paying attention right now.

  10. 10
    Gregory in Seattle

    This is kind of a shame. In the future history I’ve written for my science fiction, there is an Islamic “civil war” which results in conservatives all emigrating to Mars, eventually establishing the Islamic Republic of al-Mirrikh. This ends up greatly modifying the culture, as you cannot maintain strict segregation and bigotry in a harsh environment that requires every hand on deck, and the impracticalities of facing Mecca while on a different planet lead to other revisions in the strict interpretation of religious law and custom. It also preserves Islam from the chaos that engulfs Terra during the Century of Woe (and I really need to find a better name for that period.)

    I would hate to have to revise all this.

  11. 11
    dingojack

    Pixiedust – Actually a detailed report* was produced before the aforementioned Malaysian cosmonaut set off into space. You’ll have to try harder.
    Dingo
    ——–
    see:
    The Associated Press (September 20, 2007). “Malaysian Astronaut Won’t Ignore Faith”. The Associated Press / USA Today. Retrieved October 4, 2007
    NASA (2004). “Day in the Life”. NASA. Retrieved October 7, 2007.
    Mazwin Nik Anis (2007). “Guidebook for Muslims in space”. Star Publications (Malaysia). Retrieved October 7, 2007.
    etc.

  12. 12
    Alverant

    So being part of an effort to expand Humanity past this pale blue dot is not worthy. When the bible says, “The meek shall inherit the Earth” I like to append it with, “Because the bold have moved onto the stars.” Stay meek, General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates.

    #10 I like your idea and see no reason to revise it. Just change it so that there’s a rival to the UAE in Africa or South America that supports the idea of leaving Earth. Or that each planet/ship has their own version Mecca (maybe with some dirt from there to sanctify it) to keep them happy.

  13. 13
    dingojack

    “Take a look at the Lawman
    Beating up the wrong guy
    Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know
    He’s in the best selling show
    Is there life on Mars?”
    :) Dingo

  14. 14
    laurentweppe

    So being part of an effort to expand Humanity past this pale blue dot is not worthy

    As pixiedust noted, the actual reasoning of the fatwa was “more sciencey” that you give it credit for: it’s leaving earth without any plan regarding the trip back that the clerics object to

  15. 15
    matty1

    I’m not sure a fatwa is necessarily even an edict. As I understand it is an opinion on how Sharia law applies to a particular situation and there is no consensus among Muslims about who is qualified to issue formal fatwa’s and who is obligated to obey them once issued. Some for instance would say that even if technically valid the ban only applies to Muslims in the UAE since those elsewhere are not bound to accept the interpretation of this committee.

  16. 16
    daved

    But ‘Muslims on Mars’ would make such a great film.

    Sort of ‘Snakes on a Plane’ on steroids!

    Somehow, I’m just not seeing Samuel Jackson bellowing “I am sick of these motherfucking Muslims on this motherfucking planet!”

  17. 17
    Raging Bee

    Okay, I guess that means female colonists on Mars can take off their spacesuits without fear of being flogged. No objection here.

    The only downside here is that I’ll have to erase that little historical note in my novel about the bloody “Islamic Mars” campaign. Unless of course this fatwa is repealed for economic reasons…

  18. 18
    Alverant

    No laurentweppe, this is what they said.

    Whoever opts for this “hazardous trip”, the committee said, is likely to perish for no “righteous reason”, and thus will be liable to a “punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter”

    They compared going into a dangerous situation to killing oneself. Colonists always had a hard time initially and they all knew it was a one-way trip. Mars would be worse than others, but calling going on a one-way trip suicide is out of line. When you explore new frontiers, there’s always a chance of death. You know that going in and pushing humanity’s borders itself is a righteous reason.

  19. 19
    eric

    poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam,”

    “What, never?”
    “No, never!”
    “What, never?”
    “Well, hardly ever”

  20. 20
    caseloweraz

    Pixiedust: I saw the headline and tried guessing the reason before reading the piece. My guess: it would be impossible to accurately face Mecca while praying and that would endanger the Muslim astronaut.

    They solved this on Babylon 5, as I recall — although the religion involved was not Islam.

    And then there was the matter of the holy Baleth Seeds (or whatever they were called.) Holy to G’Kar; tasty to Londo Molari.

  21. 21
    Gregory in Seattle

    @Alverant #12 – It will need some tweaking, and some incentive to override the fatwa, but it shouldn’t be difficult: the Great Migration comes after a lunar land-rush that starts in the late 2020s, which develops the technology needed to build reliably habitable structures in a harsh environment.

  22. 22
    Poggio

    “Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life….”

    Did he just admit that there is a small possibility that Muslims can breath carbon dioxide?

  23. 23
    Chiroptera

    Also, don’t forget, Mars is made of pork.

  24. 24
    eamick

    I saw the headline and tried guessing the reason before reading the piece. My guess: it would be impossible to accurately face Mecca while praying and that would endanger the Muslim astronaut.

    There was a Saudi astronaut (a member of the royal family, thankyouverymuch) on a shuttle mission back in the ’80s. The religious authorities then told him basically to face Earth as best he could.

  25. 25
    dhall

    “more vulnerable to death.” They understand that everyone all the time is ‘vulnerable to death,’ right . . ? Granted, I can’t say it as well as Jim Morrison, but . . .

  26. 26
    Doubting Thomas

    That must be why so few of my hang gliding buddies are Muslim.

  27. 27
    Raging Bee

    You know that going in and pushing humanity’s borders itself is a righteous reason.

    Not in the eyes of reactionary backward authoritarians, who can’t stand anyone pushing any borders ever.

    My guess: it would be impossible to accurately face Mecca while praying and that would endanger the Muslim astronaut.

    Are you kidding? Mecca is on Earth, and it would be easy to create a calendar algorithm to predict where Earth would be relative to any location on Mars at any time.

    And besides, they could just change that rule. For example, they could require Muslim settlers on a planet to face the place where the first Muslim, or the first Muslim cleric, set foot on that planet (and build a mosque at that location).

  28. 28
    Mark Weber

    “How many people die every year attempting the Hajj to Mecca?”

    A much smaller percentage than even one person dying on a mission to Mars, let alone a one way mission.

    The clerics are absolutely right that the first colonists on Mars will largely be demonstrating for us what the effects of living on the planet are so we can better prepare future astronauts to survive longer. We have not evolved to do well under Martian conditions, even those prevalent in an artificial biodome we create on its surface. The reduced gravity will, at minimum, have a significant on things like bone density.

    Do I think such a mission is a worthy endeavor? Absolutely. Do I think it is a “righteous reason”? As much as anything is “righteous”. It is, nonetheless, a much much riskier endeavor than the Hajj has been at any time in the history of Islam.

  29. 29
    coyote12

    “Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse 4/29 of the Holy Quran: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.”

    Guess the extremists skipped that one, eh?

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