Religion

The Dilemma of a Muslim Astronaut!

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor and Faiz Khaleed

When all your religious symbols are related to a certain place on earth then you have a bit of an issue when you have to leave the earth and travel to space.  There is a reason why no Muslim country has a Space Program or has sent astronauts.  The practicing and “good” Muslim will have to forgo all that makes him a good Muslim. Look at the questions facing a practicing Muslim in a space station:

  • The space station travels at 27,000km/h, making 16 orbits a day – which means 16 sunsets and sunrises (from earth’s standpoint).  For a 5 times worship from sunrise to sunset, this comes out to 80 Namazes in 24 hours.  That is a bit taxing for an astronaut.
  • Let us assume he does prayers only 5 times in 24 hours – to heck with the Earth is round – where, pray should he face?  On Earth, he faced Mecca – wherever it was.  But now?  He might have to stand on his head to face the place.
  • And suppose he does find a way to “face the Mecca”, how does he hold his position in Zero Gravity?  Interesting conundrum huh?!
  • On top of all this the guy will have to wash himself 5 times a day, and no one is going to give him so much water – which is a rare commodity in space.
  • Plus he will have to carry his private tiffin along with him to ensure he is getting Halal food.  After all, he doesn’t want to go all the way only to eat Haram.  Does he?

Well, why these questions?  Because Malaysia is going to send a Muslim to space along with the Russians.  Out of 10,000 applicants, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor and Faiz Khaleed – have been the finalists and one of them would go.

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The guy who goes will have another rough issue to deal with.  He (it won’t be a she thank God, or the Burkha would have clouded the whole place in zero gravity) will be going during Ramadan!  And… he should be fasting!  Damn!  But wait, one has to fast from sunrise to sunset… and in the space station they will have it 16 times.  So, he gets to eat every One and half hours?  Huh?

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Mustafa Abdul Rahman, the head of the nation’s Department of Islamic Development is the man behind finalizing the religious stuff, and he and his team have been at it for over an year now.  You would think that with just one book and story of one man’s lifetime, by now they would have all figured out in complete detail within one year.  Specially for a religion, that its believers say – had “all the answers to a human’s pursuits”.  Right?

Well, the solutions from the Islamic scholars after a year of rigorous research kind of match the specificity of answers by a First Grader.

The winner will be told that he may choose to fast in space (one and a half hour? No answer!) or make up for it when he returns. If an astronaut doubts that the food provided is halal, he “‘should consume it only to the extent of restraining hunger”.

On prayers to Mecca, however, the guidebook sidesteps. These should be performed, it says, “according to the capability of the astronaut”.

Imagine a Space ship full of hard core Islamic Believers on board.  Now, that would be something wicked, isn’t it!

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Desh Kapoor

The panache of a writer is proven by the creative pen he uses to transform the most mundane topic into a thrilling story. Desh – the author, critic and analyst uses the power of his pen to create thought-provoking pieces from ordinary topics of discussion. He writes on myriad interesting themes. Read the articles to know more about his views and “drishtikone”.

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