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Mars Fatwa Issued by Imams: Travel to Red Planet Prohibited

no-mission-to-mars-for-themJust to show how ridiculous those religious authorities can be when they put themselves to the task.  Believe it or not, a fatwa committee under the United Arab Emirates’ General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment has issued a proclamation against travel to Mars, shattering the dreams of hundreds of aspiring Emirati Muslim astronauts. Well, maybe not that many.  Anyway!  The fatwa was issued after the Mars One organisation announced that it would try and establish a permanent human settlement on Mars.  The islamic autorities are worried because over 200,000 people from around the world applied to be part of Mars One.  So it’s a safe bet to say that there are at least a couple of muslims among them.  The project is a private venture that hopes to eventually establish a human outpost on the red planet. The one catch: the people sent to the red planet don’t have a way back. Even in the best-case scenario, the people who volunteer will have no way to back out or go home. The thousands of people who have signed up seem ok with that risk, for the sake of exploration. [1]  For a start, Mars has no breathable atmosphere and almost no water. And if you thought the Arctic air blasting across North America this winter was cold, think again. The average temperature on Mars is minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit. But here’s another reason you may not have considered: Such a journey may be deemed sinful — at least if you are Muslim. [2] Clerics say that trying to set up home there would be un-Islamic. [3]  The reason for that is not masian racism but simply because Islam forbids suicide, “Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam,” the committee said, according to Khaleej Times.  [4] According to the religious autorities, “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.”  [5]

The Mars One mission is currently soliciting applicants from the civilian population for a one-way trip to the Red Planet, and 1,058 finalists have already been chosen. [6] The Dutch nonprofit organization hopes to establish the first human settlement on Mars, and they will continue evaluating candidates until the final 24 begin the 10 years of training necessary for the mission.  [7] Islamic researcher Dr. Shaikh Mohammed Al Ashmaway cited scripture with regards to the ruling, saying, “Almighty Allah said in verse 2/195 in the Holy Quran: Do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction.” [8]   Sheikh Mohammad Yusuf, Imam of the Amena Mosque, told the Khaleej Times, “Man’s life is not his or her own property; it is God’s creation, and therefore suicide is prohibited in all religions, and of course by law.” [0] Professor Dr Farooq Hamada, head of the committee, 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.” [10] The astronauts, the committee said, would end up dying for no ‘righteous reason’ and would face the same punishment in the afterlife as someone who’d committed suicide. [11] In fact, GAIAE went so far as to claim that those seeking to escape God’s judgment on Mars would be unable to do so, saying: “This is an absolutely baseless and unacceptable belief because not even an atom falls outside the purview of Allah, the Creator of everything.” [12] Strangely enough, it seems  the committee believes some people will take the trip in order to escape the gaze of Allah, which they say definitely extends to Mars and beyond.



14th century Muslim explorer Ibn Battuta would have totally gone to Mars, according to Mars One.

It goes without saying that Martian colonization is certainly a dangerous hobby. NASA’s Curiosity rover has found water in Martian soil, but it also found toxic chlorine gas. There are promising signs of flowing water, though that’s still uncertain. Even if space travelers had sufficient food, water, and heat, the confined spaces and isolation of a Mars colony would be really bad for colonists’ mental health. Plus, high levels of radiation would likely make Martian humans quite sick. On top of all of this, the nearest non-colonist humans will be anywhere from 34 million to 250 million miles away, making any rescue mission difficult, if not impossible. Private Mars colonization organization Mars One still thinks the journey is worth it. [13]  Believe it or not, the private Mars colonization organization Mars One, have bother to issued a response to GAIAE lunatic fatwa, citing the Quran and the specific example of Ibn Battuta, a 14th century explorer who they think definitely would have been willing to participate in such an adventure.

“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are Signs for those who know.” (Quran 30: 22)

The Muslim world has a rich tradition of exploration. The verse from the Quran above encourages Muslims to go out and see the signs of God’s creation in the ‘heavens and the earth’. The most influential example of this was the Moroccan Muslim traveller, Ibn Battuta, who from 1325 to 1355 travelled 73,000 miles, visiting the equivalent of 44 modern countries. Among the countries Ibn Battuta visited were Russia, Afghanistan, India, the Maldives, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and China. [14]

Mars One continues, imploring the imams to rescind the ruling, and instead think of the risk to humanity posed by not colonizing Mars.

If we may be so bold: the GAIAE should not analyze the risk as they perceive it today. The GAIAE should assess the potential risk for humans as if an unmanned habitable outpost is ready and waiting on Mars. Only when that outpost is established will human lives be risked in Mars One’s plan. With eight successful consecutive landing and a habitable settlement waiting on Mars, will the human mission be risk-free? Of course not. Any progress requires taking risks, but in this case the reward is ‘the next giant leap for mankind’. That reward is certainly worth the risks involved in this mission.  Mars One respectfully requests GAIAE to cancel the Fatwa and make the greatest Rihla, or journey, of all times open for Muslims too. They can be the first Muslims to witness the signs of God’s creation in heaven, drawing upon the rich culture of travel and exploration of early Islam. [15]


Political correctness makes us wondering: By declaring travel to Mars unislamic, could they have offended martian muslims?

Even if the whole story look a little stupid from our day-to-day common-sensed perspective, it may contain more mind blowing stuff that we might think.  Ironically enough, this fatwa is a fascinating ruling for fans of sci-fi literature, because Kim Stanley Robinson’s amazing novel Red Mars, about the early colonization of Mars, posits that nomadic Muslims are the people best suited to truly pioneer the planet. And of course lots of Islamic/Middle-Eastern stuff finds its way into Dune, which isn’t about Mars but is certainly about a Mars-y planet. There’s something so cyberpunk about the whole thing; it’s one of the intersections of science fiction-y futurism and sociological reality that many scifi authors ignored. Yes, technology advances and our horizons expand, but the same superstitions and myths continue to hold power over our minds. [16]  Whatever what the so-called islamic autorities may say, this could be a great adventure.  It is not impossible that we will see Martian muslims some day, I mean just the recent contact of Islam with the west have produced gay imams so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Martian Imams or even Alien Imams in the future.  Even crazier, maybe there are already Marsian muslims on Mars right now and this whole idea deeming  traveling to Mars “unislamic” have offended them.

[1] Mary Beth Griggs, Islamic Authorities Issue Fatwa on One-Way Trips to Mars, Smithsonian Mag, February 21, 2014
[2] Allison Jackson, Imams issue fatwa against Muslims going to Mars, Salon, Sunday, Salon, Feb 23, 2014 05:00 PM EST; Rob Williams, Gulf imams issue fatwa warning Muslims not to live on Mars as it would pose ‘a real risk to life’, The Independent, Thursday 20 February 2014
[4] Ahmed Shaaban, One-way trip to Mars prohibited in Islam, Khaleej Times,  19 February 2014
[9] Ahmed Shaaban, One-way trip to Mars prohibited in Islam, Khaleej Times,  19 February 2014
[12] Kelsey D. Atherton , No Mars For Muslims? Mars One Asks Imams To Rescind Fatwa , Popular Science, February 21, 2014
[13] Kelsey D. Atherton , No Mars For Muslims? Mars One Asks Imams To Rescind Fatwa , Popular Science, February 21, 2014
[14] Kelsey D. Atherton , No Mars For Muslims? Mars One Asks Imams To Rescind Fatwa , Popular Science, February 21, 2014
[15] Kelsey D. Atherton , No Mars For Muslims? Mars One Asks Imams To Rescind Fatwa , Popular Science, February 21, 2014

About Bill Wallace

Bill Wallace is a self-fashioned writter, a computer programmer and cybermarketer from Quebec City, Canada who decided to enter the political arena after his disillusionment with the socialist system under which he was living in the French Canadian province of Quebec.

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