Omission to MarsOmission to Mars

No Red Planet for you, Muslims told

United Arab Emirates religious authorities ban participation in interplanetary voyages

A conceptional illustration of a potential Mars colony (photo credit: Courtesy NASA)
A conceptional illustration of a potential Mars colony (photo credit: Courtesy NASA)

Religious authorities in the United Arab Emirates issued a fatwa prohibiting Muslims from participation in a manned voyage to Mars.

Dutch company Mars One has been vetting applicants for a future Mars colony, which is to be populated by a series of one-way missions beginning in 2024, but a specially convened committee of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment of the UAE has issued an edict against Muslims joining the mission, The Khaleej Times reported.

“Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam. 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,” the committee decreed.

According to the Mars One website, since the company announced its intention to set up a permanent human colony on Mars, over 200,000 people worldwide have applied. At least “500 Saudis and other Arabs” were among those who have offered themselves for consideration, the report said.

The committee noted that “some may be interested in traveling to Mars for escaping punishment or standing before Almighty Allah for judgment… This is an absolutely baseless and unacceptable belief because not even an atom falls outside the purview of Allah, the Creator of everything.”

Interestingly, the 1989 science fiction book “Crescent in the Sky,” by Donald Moffitt, postulated a far future where an interstellar Islamic empire is centered on Mars. Human exploration of the Red Planet has been a staple of the genre since the publication of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1917 classic “A Princess of Mars,” and, through the efforts of Mars One and other private initiatives, seems poised to one day make the leap from fiction to reality.

Of course, the UAE imams are too late if they mean to ban space travel completely for those of the Islamic faith: there have already been a handful of Muslim astronauts, most of them cosmonauts from Russia or the former USSR countries.

Sultan Salman Al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family, flew on a NASA mission in the 1980s to become the first Muslim in space, and Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-American businesswoman, became the first Muslim woman to leave the Earth when she became a space tourist in 2006 on an eight day mission to the International Space Station.

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