One Way Trip To Mars Is Haram, Say Islamic Scholars

Bad news for devoutly Islamic astronaut hopefuls.

There's been all this hullabaloo about a one way trip to Mars ever since Dutch company Mars One started recruiting for it. In reality this is the best way to explore other planets, because the cost of sending someone to Mars with enough fuel to make a return trip is unfeasible. Lots of people starting applying for the mission, happy to spend their final days as one of the only humans to ever visit the Red Planet. 

But it turns out devout Muslims will have to remove themselves from the candidate pool; the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates has ruled that such a one-way trip is forbidden in Islam. They've issued a fatwa against it. 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.”

Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf, Imam of the Amena mosque, agrees: “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.”

Weirdly, it seems like 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. Says Hamada: “This is an absolutely baseless and unacceptable belief because not even an atom falls outside the purview of Allah, the Creator of everything.  This has also been clearly underscored in verse 19&20/93 of the Holy Quran in which Allah says: There is no one in the heavens and earth but that he comes to the Most Merciful as a servant. (Indeed) He has enumerated them and counted them a (full) counting.”

This is a fascinating ruling for fans of scifi literature, because Kim Stanley Robinson's amazing 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. 

It's fascinating to see medieval religions butting heads with scientific progress, and it isn't like Muslims have the market cornered. Stem cell research remains controversial, and the nation was just witness to a debate about whether or not evolution is real. At least the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment isn't claiming Mars doesn't exist. 

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 supertsitions and myths continue to hold power over our minds. 

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