Religious leaders issued a fatwa in 2014 prohibiting Muslims from joining manned space missions to Mars because they might die.
A“fatwa” is the legal interpretation of Islamic law as it pertains to things that aren’t specifically covered in the Qu’ran, and manned missions to Mars are somewhat notable by their absence, although it’s fair to say that space exploration probably wasn’t exactly a top priority back in the 7th century Middle East. Nevertheless, the declaration was made in February 2014 by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the UAE, instructing followers not to “promote or be involved in” any one-way trip to Mars.
The committee responsible for the dictat states that such an adventure “poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam,” following on with: “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.”
Well, for fuck’s sake, getting out of bed every morning poses a real risk to life, especially if you’ve run out of coffee, and more so if you step outside, drive a car, eat food, use vending machines or drink water from the wrong tap. Indeed, the simple act of being born leaves you 100% vulnerable to dying.
The fatwa was likely a response to the 2013 announcement of the Mars One mission, which advertised for recruits to undertake a mission to Mars beginning in 2023 and with further journeys every 2 years, in the hope of establishing a permanent Martian colony. The Dutch project has since been widely pilloried as a scam and deemed “unachievable” by the scientific community, but that should in no way infringe upon the possibility of intrepid exploration, especially since – despite almost 50 years of Star Trek – we have yet to cross the Final Frontier
According to a 2014 article in the Khaleej Times, the committee said that whoever opts for this “hazardous trip”, is likely to perish for no “righteous reason”, and thus will be liable to a “punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter”. The president of the committee, Dr. Farooq Hamada also added that “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.”
Whilst it seems like a few of your brethren didn’t get that memo about not killing “yourselves or one another”, Farooq, you’re not exactly advancing the cause of many millions of other Muslims who want to get on with their lives in science and technology, knowing that they increasingly have to deal with living in a climate of fear perpetuated by religious nonsense being issued by people who seem to want to watch the world go backwards whilst proclaiming themselves to be the most virtuous exponents of whatever it is you think that humankind should be. On the other hand, if your fatwa prevents crackpots like you from joining the scientific community, then all well and good.