Ramadan’s Rituals in Outer Space

No doubt that Malaysia is one of the top Muslim countries that amazes you with its sticking to the Islamic teachings and regulations at the same time as it appreciates the scientific methodology. Malaysia sees there is indeed no contradiction between Islam and science.

Muslims excelled in Astronomy

Owning lands by countries in space in controlled by the international Treaty of Outer Space which was opened for signature in 1967.

It is known from the Qur’an that Adam (Peace be Upon Him) was favored over the angels by virtue of the knowledge given to him by Allah.

The very first command that Prophet Muhammad (Peace & Blessings be Upon Him) received was to read: {Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.} (Surat Al-‘alaq: 96: 1-5).

There is a very good reason why Muslims have made a great impact in the world of science and medicine. It is because God Almighty has placed a great importance on seeking knowledge in Islam.

To seek knowledge is to draw nearer to our Creator. Islam sees the educated person as the equipped human to understand the message of the Qur’an and respect the Architect of the universe and the existence of all living things.

Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make a path to Paradise easy for him.” (Sunan Abu Dawud).

The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) encouraged Muslims to “seek knowledge even if it be in China.” For the Muslim, knowledge is like a strong steel of armor that protects from the wiles of the Satan and safeguards the faith. {And say: My Lord increase me in knowledge.} (Surat Taha: 20: 114).

Muslim scholars’ understanding of knowledge developed their understanding of religion and created metaphysical tension in their lives. Several Quranic verses encourage Muslims to think and know: {Behold! In the creation of the heavens and Earth, and the alternation of night and day, are Signs for men of understanding} (Surat Al-Imran: 3:190).

In light of this, Muslims who excelled in Astronomy and revolutionized its branches are encouraged to conquer outer space now and in the future.

This directly brings in mind the issue of performing our Islamic rituals in outer space whether that was in an orbit around our home planet or atop another celestial body.

Muslims in Space

In 2007, the Malaysian orthopaedic surgeon Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor was the first Malaysian astronaut and the 9th Muslim to visit the space. In this video he demonstrates performing his prayer inside the International Space Station (ISS).

Conquering space is progressing, our gains and benefits on Earth from this are increasing, and our experiences in traveling to outer space are rocketing. No doubt more Muslims will visit outer space in the coming years. Malaysia for example is planning to send its first astronaut to the Moon by 2020.

So again the question of our important daily Islamic rituals is rising. Prayers and fasting are considered pillars of Islam. Therefore, Muslims must perform them at their best level. Each of them has prerequisites and conditions that intimately depend on scientific, geographical, and natural aspects.

For salah, wudu’ (ablution), arrival of the prescribed time period, and facing qiblah are prerequisites of prayer. While for fasting, there must be an accurate time keeping, and a possibility to observe the Sun and the Moon to witness the sunrises, sunsets, as well as the Lunar phases which specify the starts and ends of the months of the Hijri Calendar.

These prerequisites mean that a practicing Muslim astronaut would face a problem with the lack of: water, gravity, magnetic field and thus losing direction, lack of Terrestrial time keeping, and the possibility of not being able to observe either the Moon or the Sun or both.

Similar Problems on Planet Earth?

These obstacles are not exclusive for outer space since some of these troubles already exist on Earth which is no more than one of the countless planets that fly in space.

Muslims at the poles on earth face two problems. The locations that lie north of the latitude circles of 50°N and 50°S lack the differentiation between Fajr time and Ishaa’ during their local summers. Thus, Muslims there are advised to use time zones of neighboring areas that have normal times for Fajr and Ishaa’.

Moreover, Muslims who live in regions north of latitude circle number 67°N and south of 67°S have summers with no sunsets at all. Hence, Islamic scholars and jurists advise Muslims living there to use the sunrise and sunset timings of neighboring areas which have normal time keeping for sunrises and sunsets.

Planet Earth also has several arid regions which lack water and thus Islam allowed the performance of salah after tayammum (dry ablution without water).

A Step Forward by Muslims

Kazakhstan, the largest Muslim country by area, hosts Baikonur Cosmodrome the world’s first and largest operational space launch facility.

As a result of this, the topic of performing Islamic rituals in space took the centre stage of a major conference in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, in 2006.

Muslim scientists and muftis pondered how to pray in space in the face of difficulties like locating Mecca with no terrestrial magnetic field to direct the magnetic compasses, and holding the prayer positions in a zero-gravity environment.

Muslim scholars gave the option to Muslim astronauts to either fast in space or replace their fasting days when they return to Earth if their mission is of a short period.

This fatwa is based upon the Qur’anic verses which express that Islam seeks not to cause any hardship to its adherents or burden them beyond their capabilities. Easiness and facilitation are main characteristics of Islam.

Almighty Allah says, [Allah would not place a burden on you, but He would purify you and would perfect His grace upon you, that you may give thanks] (Surat Al-Ma’idah: 5:6). Allah also says, [Allah tasks not a soul beyond its scope] (Surat Al-Baqarah: 2:286). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has also informed: “Religion is easy, and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way.”

In case Muslim astronauts choose to fast, Muslim jurists advise them to use the time keeping zones of either the city of their launching or the local time of Mecca. This can easily determine the beginnings and endings of the fasting hours.

Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) has also issued a guideline on essential points about “Performing Ibadah at the ISS”. The five-page guidebook addresses several aspects related to the five daily prayers.

While for the qiblah (direction Muslims take during prayers), JAKIM drafted it should be determined “according to the capability” of the astronaut. Meaning that if he/she were facing Mecca from the outer space during their flight in an orbit around Earth in a spacecraft like the ISS for example and the prescribed time period of salah coincided with that facing, then they can direct themselves toward Mecca directly.

But in case this coincidence ceased to exist; they can direct themselves toward the angle they believe it directs toward Mecca at best without any mistakes with their salah. That’s based on the Qur’anic verse: {And to Allah belongs the east and the west. So wherever you [might] turn, there is the Face of Allah. Indeed, Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.} (Surat Al-Baqarah: 2:115).

Water in Space Missions & Performing Wudu’

Recycling is essential on the ISS and similar manned-space missions. Spacecrafts must provide abundant power, clean water, and breathable air at the right temperature and humidity. Nothing can go to waste.

The ISS’s Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) of the Marshall Space Flight Center, helps astronauts to use and re-use their precious supplies of water. On board there are contingency water containers (CWCs) which look like duffle bags and each one holds about 40.824 liters. There’s also a water processor that collects humidity from the air on board and recycles almost every drop of water on the station.

Based on these strict conditions of water usage, Muslim astronauts are advised to perform tayammum by striking both palms of hands on a clean surface such as a wall or a mirror in the spacecraft (even without dust).

Terraformation & Islamic Rituals on Other Celestial Bodies

Humans have been successful in going to space for decades now, but until the year 2000, those stays in orbit were always temporary. However, when three astronauts moved into the ISS for a four-month stay, it marked the beginning of permanent human presence in space.

Terraforming is simply like land reclamation on earth. Terraformation aims at adapting any site in the outer space; especially the surfaces of terrestrial rocky planets and natural satellites to be habitable for human life.

The matter might seem as a science fiction comic in a teens magazine, yet “the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space“, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, is a treaty that forms the basis of international space law.

The treaty was opened for signature in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and the former Soviet Union on January 27, 1967, and entered into force on October 10, 1967. As of 2013, 102 countries are parties to the treaty, while another 27 have signed the treaty but have not completed ratification.

If you’ll not be able to make use of the outer space as one of Allah Almighty’s graces to humanity, or if you don’t like to do so, other countries and human civilizations are willing and already started digging the outer space for its treasures.

There, human telescopes found abundant amounts of minerals, metals and even types of beneficial ores that we’ve never found on our planet earth.

Decades ago scientists started listing the best candidates for our terraforming plans and the requirements needed for human settlements to be located on terrestrial rocky celestial bodies like the Moon, Mars, Venus, Titan, Europa,… in addition to many other planets and natural satellites.

It is very likely to hear about a human settlement in the outer space a couple of decades from now even before full terraforming plans can be initiated, and thus Muslims have the right to worship Allah the Creator of that cosmos anywhere in His universe.

An artistic depiction of the first generation of human space settlements. Advanced models for future settlements include varieties of technological and engineering methods to adapt with various celestial bodies and terrains.

Without having the ability to observe the Earth-based Moon phases and the sunrises or sunsets, as well as being on the surface of another celestial sphere that has a time keeping system different from our normal terrestrial time that depends on the speed and angle of earth’s rotation and orbit, Muslims who form about 23% of the global population and span over about 64 nations in the world think how will they work in space and at the same time keep their rituals at work too.

Celestial bodies have different rotational speeds and different orbital speeds meaning that every planet will have a different time keeping system for its human settlements to adapt with that planet’s daytime, nights, months, and years.

We are very successful and have thousands of years of experience at time keeping and making the sophisticated work of calendars calculations.

So human space settlers can either use both the time keeping system of their settlement for domestic and daily use on that planet, while on the other hand, they can depend on the terrestrial time of the local time of Mecca or their ancestral cities for knowing the prescribed time for performing their Islamic rituals of salah and fasting. Something which is close from the solution Muslims use to conduct at earth’s poles.

About Akhi Soufyan

If you see goodness from me, then that goodness is from The Creator. You should be thankful to The Creator for all of that. Cause I'm not the architect of that. I'm only the...the recipient. If you see weakness or shortcoming in me it's from my own weakness or shortcoming. And I ask The Creator and the people to forgive me for that. _______________________________ Website eigenaar voor een betere wereld en doel, niet gericht op verdiensten van geld maar goede daden. In de naam van Allah, de Barmhartige. Als je goedheid van mij ziet, dan is dat de goedheid van de Schepper (God). Wees De Schepper dankbaar voor dat. Want ik ben daar niet de architect van, ik ben alleen de ontvanger.

Posted on July 27, 2014, in ARTICLES and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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