Hoping to be a pioneer on the Red Planet? First seek permission from your local cleric. Dubai's Khaleej Times reports that the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the UAE has ruled that promoting or being involved in a one-way trip to Mars is prohibited by Islam. The fatwa appears to be a response to Mars One's call for volunteers to make the pioneering trip to the red planet.
According to the General Authority, '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.' Because of the inherent dangers of the trip, those who choose to go there are likely to die for no 'righteous reason,' thus incurring 'punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter.'
The Khaleej Times further states that the General Authority fears that some of the volunteers, among whom are 500 Saudis and other Arabs, may be interested in traveling to Mars to escape punishment or to avoid standing before Allah for judgment. The General Authority decreed that 'this is an absolutely baseless and unacceptable belief because not even an atom falls outside the purview of Allah, the Creator of everything.'"
[ED Note: Likening the one-way-ticket to suicide does make some theological sense, but I am saddened that the Authority does not consider space exploration a "righteous reason" to risk one's life. In times past, many great explorers hailed from Muslim societies, and were part of what made them great.]
A couple more things to bear in mind:- Islam is not unified, and a lot of Muslims will simply ignore what these clerics have to say. For example, Iranian Shiites will probably treat this decision the same way an Anglican treats the pronouncements of Pope Francis - interesting, but by no means infallible. The Sunnis in Algeria take what the ayatollahs in Iran say about the same way.
- Even within the right sub-group of Muslims, there are lots of people who aren't very devout. Most people will declare the faith, do the routine prayers, observe Ramadan, maybe go on a Hajj, try to give something to charity if they have it, stop by Friday prayers at the mosque on occasion, and consider that "good enough" without worrying too much about the pronouncements of various scholars and clerics.
A lot of people in the West have this idea that Islam is a unified billion-strong group of crazy backwards people. It's in fact a very divided bunch of people with about a billion average folks trying to get by, maybe a couple million that take it really seriously and focus their lives around it, and a few thousand that are actually crazy or backwards.
The same could be said about any organized religion. How many Christian sects are there again?
People are people, losing sight of this is the basis for prejudice.
That being said, is this going to cause a religious divide on Mars? There appears to be a self selection here that would leave their voice unheard on the big red rock in the sky.
+1. Oh, where are mod points when I need them?
Seriously, where are they? I got 10 this morning and they've already expired. I am not that decisive.
It's in fact a very divided bunch of people with about a billion average folks trying to get by
On a side note, most folks are like this. We in the West spend so much time inventing stereotypes and debating what it is that various Others are "really" like, when the truth is that most are just looking to put food on the table and roof over their heads. And, like enough, having a hard time managing even that much.
you would get mod points if I had them