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UAE Clerics' Fatwa Forbids Muslims From Traveling To Mars 363

PolygamousRanchKid writes "The Khaleej Times of Dubai reports that a fatwa committee has forbidden Muslims from taking a one-way trip to the Red Planet. At the moment, there is no technology available that would allow for a return trip from Mars, so it is truly a one-way ticket for the colonists, who may also become reality TV stars in the process. The committee of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates that issued the fatwa against such a journey doesn't have anything against space exploration, Elon Musk's Mars visions, or anything like that. Rather, the religious leaders argue that making the trip would be tantamount to committing suicide, which all religions tend to frown upon."
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UAE Clerics' Fatwa Forbids Muslims From Traveling To Mars

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  • Buddhism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22, 2014 @03:56AM (#46309685)

    "the trip would be tantamount to committing suicide, which all religions tend to frown upon."

    Hey get your Judeocentric religious world views out of here! Buddhism goes so far as to feature a story of the Buddha himself committing suicide just to feed some hungry tiger cubs.

    Which is insane like all religions, but I reserve the right for their insanity to be characterized accurately!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22, 2014 @04:03AM (#46309703)
    Choosing to live the rest of your life in a distant location is not a suicide in any way. If they choose to see this as suicide, then why do they allow youngsters to enroll in their armies? That looks a heck of a lot closer to suicide.
  • Fine. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @04:38AM (#46309811)

    More space for the rest of us.

  • by Mr_Wisenheimer ( 3534031 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @04:39AM (#46309817)

    After all, Tobacco leads to the premature death of most people who use it.

    I always thought of suicide as the act of killing yourself just for the sake of killing yourself. While one might call something a "suicide mission", that is not the same as suicide, is it? If a soldier stays behind to man a turret in the face of certain death to provide covering fire so his comrades can escape, is he committing suicide?

  • by rusty0101 ( 565565 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @05:43AM (#46309963) Homepage Journal

    Again, how is this really different from any other colonization project? Look at the history of colonization in the Americas, and you'll see that many died out entirely as a result of being unprepared for the environment that they encountered. I suspect that you'll see similar results in the history of colonization into Australia, and if records existed, for pretty much any migration into areas where humans had not been before.

    The general idea would be to find a way to draw the O2 out of the rust initially, and supplant that and the nitrogen we need from supplies sent from earth. Not cheap by any means, but then the colony would be working to grow plants to recover the O2 from CO2. Some water would be brought from Earth, but some would be recovered from ice on the planet. And food would be one of the other reasons to grow plants.

    I'm not saying that the colony would survive. I wouldn't plan on giving even 10:1 against, but presumably we would learn things that could be applied to help the next colonization attempt. But then I'm not expecting the described mission to happen either. If it does, great. If it doesn't, hopefully another will before too much longer.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @06:37AM (#46310085)

    Actually, why bother with the rust at all? You've got all the 98% pure CO2 you could want in the atmosphere, just pressurize it and get some plants breathing it and you're good to go on oxygen. And assuming you can find a source of hydrogen you'll have all the water you need without too much trouble. Perhaps they could somehow capture the methane plumes we've detected and burn them in the same greenhouse? If you're producing enough oxygen, turning some of it into more CO2 and water would seem to be a good trade, especially if you have a use for the extra energy produced.

  • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @08:23AM (#46310343) Homepage Journal

    I think that the idea is that while visiting the ISS is 'hazardous', there's a lot of hazardous things out there, the religion doesn't forbid hazardous. What it forbids is outright suicide. Join an expedition to reach the top of Everest without a plan to return? That's suicide. Riding a russian rocket up to the ISS? Let's call it a 1% chance of death. Dangerous, but not suicide. For that matter, sacrificing yourself for others (war, evacuation and such) isn't considered suicide either, even if death is certain.

    As for the Martian Muslims, it depends on which sect they belong to - the simplistic method is simply to pray facing the Earth, but there's something forbidding praying towards the sun(so when Mars and the Earth are on opposite sides...). Then there's the fact that they don't actually use a straight line calculation, they use the shortest route, which means using a circle route on earth... Alaskan Muslims pray pretty much straight north because of that. Also means that you have an actual direction rather than 'into the ground' while on the opposite side of the planet. But when on mars it'd likely be the retrograde orbit to reach Earth.

    Assuming significant colonization of mars by practicing Muslims, I wouldn't be surprised if some leader there just declares a 'Spiritual Martian Mecca' on Mars for them to face when praying.

    Oh, and there's the clarification that if you're spending more worry about which direction to pray in than the prayer itself, you're doing it wrong and that there's an 'any' option in that case. Oh, and you shouldn't change facing during the prayer, even if Mecca is going to pull a 180(start facing towards, end facing away) during that time. Figure out the direction in an expedient fashion(computers are allowed) and pray.

  • by polymath69 ( 94161 ) <dr,slashdot&mailnull,com> on Saturday February 22, 2014 @10:42AM (#46310759) Homepage

    It is flimsy as an argument, especially as there's a better argument to be made.

    Suppose the colonization succeeds, but only supplies can be sent, with no return trips? Due to lack of refueling capabilities on Mars this is a reasonable assumption for the next many years. Now imagine "many" is large enough that children may be born, live, and die on Mars before return trips become possible.

    Now how is such a child, able-bodied, supposed to complete the pillar of Islam that is the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca? Since this would be impossible the Mars-born would be spiritually incomplete or something. Since this scenario can be reasonably presupposed, a fatwa which reasoned along these lines might be ... less silly.

  • by MisterSquid ( 231834 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @12:31PM (#46311315)

    Again, how is this really different from any other colonization project? Look at the history of colonization in the Americas, and you'll see that many died out entirely as a result of being unprepared for the environment that they encountered. I suspect that you'll see similar results in the history of colonization into Australia, and if records existed, for pretty much any migration into areas where humans had not been before.

    Can anyone in 2014, with a straight face, write that the Americas and Australia were places where "humans had not been before"?

    Such statements don't withstand the scrutiny of someone with even gradeschool historical knowledge, yet here we are having to chew on a +4 comment that forgot humans were in these places well before Europeans got it into their minds to begin displacing indigenous peoples.

    Imagine a colonization trip to Mars that discovered humans who had been living on Mars since before recorded history. These indigenous "Martian" humans then sheltered and fed those of us who traveled from Earth, receiving as thanks a colonist-driven campaign to kill them and appropriate their resources AND THEN two to three hundred years later the colonizers "recalled" how exceptionally difficult it was to colonize Mars, a place where no humans had been before.

    While the likelihood of finding indigenous humans on other planets is unlikely, one day our descendants may encounter extraterrestrial indigenous life forms and, with thinking like the kind exhibited in your post, would destroy those life forms, appropriate the liberated resources, and write a history that enshrined themselves as resourceful adventurers struggling to survive in a harsh "unlivable" environment.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @04:20PM (#46312381)
    Clearing away the brush.

    The Malaysian National Space Agency (MNSA) and its Department of Islamic Development held a two-day conference in April [of 2006]. They invited 150 scholars, scientists, and astronauts to discuss "Islam and Life in Space."

    Five times a day (before sunrise, at midday, in late afternoon, after sunset, and at night), earth-bound muezzins call Muslims to prayer. A spaceship traveling 17,400 miles per hour orbits the earth 16 times in a day. Does that mean praying 80 times in 24 hours?

    If interrupting work to pray is not possible, the astronaut may practice a shorter version of the prayer or combine midday and afternoon prayer times, or the evening and night ones.

    The next problem: Where is Mecca?

    Muslims on Earth face Mecca, in central Saudi Arabia, when they pray. The MNSA suggests that the astronaut pray toward Mecca as much as possible, or at the Earth in general. But if it becomes necessary, the astronaut may simply face any direction.

    How does an Islamic astronaut face Mecca in orbit? []

    The conference went on to discuss a broad range of concerns. To sum up: The rituals of the Islamic faith are meant to focus the believer's attention on his relationship with his God. They are not an exercise in puzzle-logic and they do not require a geometric or technological solution.

    Moving on.

    In January 2014, former German astronaut Ulrich Walter strongly criticized the project for ethical reasons. Speaking with Berlin's Tagesspiegel, he estimated the probability of reaching Mars alive at only thirty percent, and that of surviving there more than three months at less than twenty percent. He said, "They make their money with that [TV] show. They don't care what happens to those people in space...

    Mars One []

    Captain John Smith ran a tight ship and had no use for the Virginian colonist whose plans were based on magical thinking and not careful planning, adequate material and financial resources and a rigorous internal discipline.

    He published a list of supplies he believed to be the minimum requirements for survival on the frontier: essentially a year's supply of all consumables and durable goods, and allowing for a generous margin of safety.

    New France saw one or two supply ships a year, which may give you some idea of the expense. New France, remember, had an economically viable export trade in furs and unflinching support from the crown. Those ships would be coming, hell or high water. Other colonies were less favored.

    Smith's budget has no allowance for a healthy communal and social life. Entertainment, education, religion and so on.

    No successful American colonial settlement ever began with a base as small as twenty or bound to a space that is at once so physically confined and isolated. I would expect to see alcohol as a problem. I would expect to see suicide as a problem.

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.