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Wed 26 Feb 2014 05:06 PM

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Dubai Grand Mufti reiterates fatwa against Mars project

1,259 Gulf residents applied to be part of the first human settlement on the Red Planet

Dubai Grand Mufti reiterates fatwa against Mars project
The Mars One Astronaut Selection Program received more than 202,586 applications from people around the world seeking to be among the first to obtain a one-way ticket to live on the Red Planet (Image courtesy of: Bryan Versteeg and Mars One)

The Grand Mufti of Dubai has reiterated his fatwa against Muslims applying to travel to Mars after a Dutch firm received 1.259 applications from the Gulf region to be part of a project to set up the first human settlement on the Red Planet by 2023.

In September, a spokesperson for the firm behind project told Arabian Business 1,259 Gulf residents had applied to join the Martian program, with the majority of applications coming from Saudi Arabia.

The Mars One Astronaut Selection Program received more than 202,586 applications from people around the world seeking to be among the first to obtain a one-way ticket to live on the Red Planet.

By 2015, six to ten teams of four individuals will be selected for seven years of full-time training. In 2023, one of these teams will become the first humans ever to land on Mars and live there for the rest of their lives.

However, the move has been strongly condemned by the Grand Mufti of Dubai Dr Ahmed Al Haddad who has issued a fatwa that no Muslims should take up the offer if they are selected to the final rounds of the application process.

The fatwa is in response to a request raised by Netherlands-based trip organiser, Mars One, for recalling a similar ruling issued by a committee under the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the UAE.

“Such a one-way expedition poses a risk to life, and can never be justified,” the committee said.

“There is a possibility that an individual who travels to Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and shall be more liable to death,” the cleric was quoted as saying by the Khaleej Times newspaper.

“People are not permitted to risk their life even if expecting little harm, as forbidden in verse 195/2 of the Holy Quran that says ‘And do not throw (yourselves) with your (own) hands into destruction’, and verse 29/4 ‘And do not kill yourselves (or one another). Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful’.”

While Mars One’s request for the fatwa to be lifted, Dr Haddad has called on all human rights watchdogs, governments and the United Nations to group together and “to come up with a collective fatwa” against the proposed project.

Despite reservations by Muslim clerics, the US is already in the early stages of plans to land humans on the surface of Mars in 2036, Charles Elachi, head of NASA’s missions to the Red Planet, told delegates at the Arabian Business Forum in Dubai in November 2012.

“We don’t have a programme [to send a man to Mars] but we are starting to plan,” Elachi, who heads up the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Pasadena-based NASA agency that constructs and operates robotic planetary spacecraft, said.

“Interestingly enough we can go to Mars every four years or so. Every 18 years they get very close. We are thinking not for 2018 but 2036 [for a human mission],” he added.

Elachi’s team at JPL successfully masterminded the landing of a one-tonne vehicle – called ‘Curiosity’ – in a deep crater on the surface of Mars in August 2012.

The rover has now begun a two-year mission to look for evidence that the Red Planet may once have supported life, but Elachi said plans to send humans to Mars is possible.

Anon 5 years ago

Hopefully the Qatari's will buy up the entire planet and relocate there. Peace for us all!

Critical 5 years ago

:), this article makes me laugh about the fatwa been issued. These fatwas are petty actions by our so called scholars and muftis. Its way to some how take out the overall grudge of not able to do anything in this life.

Its funny that fatwa refers to Ayaat of Quran like the following:

‘And do not throw (yourselves) with your (own) hands into destruction’

The interpretation of this can be many then why just applying to for Mars mission. More over the word "Destruction" does not implies to physical being only but also to spiritual.How about applying it to following:

1 - Do not allow alcohol in your hands to destroy your health
2 - Do not allow shamelessness in your hands to destroy your shames
3 - Do not allow Interest in your hands to destroy your nation
4 - Do not allow takabur (Vanity) in your hands to destroy your future

Does this rings a bell after seeing all around us? Shouldn't this fatwa apply to these things as well?

Adnan Bin Dawood 5 years ago

Is this why Muslims didnt discover the New World?

What must be clarified is that this is the mufti's opinion, not a fatwa. With this logic, then any expedition is dangerous - treking to Mt Everest, North Pole, Rub Al Khali, etc etc.

This 'fatwa" is not in the spirit of the famous explorer Ibn Batuta who also risked his life and was a devout muslim (apparently).

Also - why assume this is a one way trip?

On a lighter note - Mars is not very different than the deserts of Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries... may be that's why it it appeals to the Gulf?

Shaista Faruqui 5 years ago

What Mars One is doing is again going against nature and calling upon mankind its wrath.

Jazaak Allahu Khairan, Mufti Sahaab for this fatwa... let's try to save human beings from bringing their own destruction upon themselves.

nice 5 years ago

do these verses also apply to people who drive cars:
a) without seatbelts
b) without child seats / baby seats / with child on lap / with child hanging out of window
c) over the speed limit
d) whilst texting / on phone
e) wihout indicating
f) without leaving a proper stopping distance
g) without taking care
If so, why do so many people in the ME ignore them

Doug 5 years ago

You'd have thought once a civilisation has the ability to travel to space you wouldn't have to put up with these sorts of silly questions anymore.

Doug 5 years ago

The crazy thing is though, this ISN'T a suicide mission. It's just one that if you go on it, you won't be coming back to Earth. There is no reason why once we've managed to get people to Mars they can't live for many more years and live a full life on Mars. I'm assuming they'll be sent with a load of equipment to provide them with food, water, heat etc. so on one level it's not really any different to moving to a different country. Is there anything in the Koran that says you have to be on Earth all the time if you want to get into heaven? That would seem a bit restrictive fora being that is infinite and boundless.

Plus if they're going to throw that verse out there about not killing people, maybe someone should have a word with the Palestinians and the Taliban and the Syrians rather than whinging about a hypothetical trip to Mars.

irfan 5 years ago

muslim should go there and pray salah there,Azaan there,and give message of Allah and his messenger on this red earth also.

abdullah 5 years ago

1) verse 195/2 should be quoted in original, i.e. in arabic. And then approximate english translation should be given.

2) What about 100% rising property prises?
Could you please give some fatwa in this regard as well?

Ron Bagnulo 5 years ago

Between 1492 and 1503, Christopher Columbus completed four return-trip voyages to the 'new world', before passing away in 1506 at Valladoid, Spain. He did not die of starvation in the 'new world'.