February 22, 2014
Newly Issued Fatwa Prohibits Muslims From Taking One-Way Mission To Mars
[ Watch the Video: Who Can't Take The MarsOne Trip? ]
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Participation in Mars One, the proposed hybrid space adventure and reality television program that intends to send at least four people to live on the red planet, has been prohibited in a religious proclamation issued earlier this week by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment (GAIAE) in the United Arab Emirates.
According to a report published Wednesday in the Khaleej Times of Dubai, the group issued a fatwa (an edict based on Quranic scripture) stating that a one-way trip to another planet with no potential return to Earth posed “a real risk to life” 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,” said the committee, which was presided over by Professor Dr Farooq Hamada. Those who die during such a voyage is likely to perish for no “righteous reason” and as such would be subject to a “punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter” based on verse 4/29 of the Holy Quran.
At least 500 applicants from Saudi Arabia or other Middle Eastern nations are currently on Mars One’s list of potential candidates, according to Lee Hutchinson of Ars Technica. The newly-issued decree does not yet appear in GAIAE’s official fatwa listings and would not necessarily constitute a violation of civil law; however, “it would be something that a devout Muslim would at least take into consideration when making a decision,” he added.
In response, Mars One released a statement explaining that the mission was designed “to extend to all humans, including Muslims, the chance to become the Neil Armstrong of Mars” and that the organizers hoped that “this great honor will be achievable for anyone in the world, no matter what their religion or nationality is.”
The group also said that the GAIAE should not consider the risk of the journey as it is currently perceived, but rather look at the situation as if there was a habitable, unmanned outpost waiting for the participants to arrive. They said that the mission would not be risk-free, and that “any progress requires taking risks, but in this case the reward is 'the next giant leap for mankind'. That reward is certainly worth the risks involved in this mission.”
“Mars One respectfully requests GAIAE to cancel the Fatwa and make the greatest Rihla, or journey, of all times open for Muslims too,” they concluded. “They can be the first Muslims to witness the signs of God’s creation in heaven, drawing upon the rich culture of travel and exploration of early Islam.”
The whole dispute could wind up being a moot point, however. As CNET writer Eric Mack pointed out on Friday, while the Mars One project is making progress, to date it has only managed to raise approximately 80 percent of its initial $400,000 crowd-funding campaign. That suggests that the public either lacks confidence in the proposed mission, which will ultimately require millions of dollars to be successful, or people simply aren’t all that interested.
While the company said that they had received roughly 200,000 applications, the Daily Mail said that they short-listed just 1,058 individuals to participate in trials for the proposed voyage. While Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp said that the group was “extremely appreciative and impressed with the sheer number of people who submitted their applications,” they ultimately had to separate "those who we feel are physically and mentally adept… from those who are obviously taking the mission much less seriously.”