The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment has issued a fatwa forbidding anyone of Islamic faith from living on future settlements on Mars.
The ruling was prompted by the Netherlands’ Mars One organization’s declaration that it would try to establish a “permanent human settlement on Mars.” The organization has invited volunteers to fly to Mars beginning in 2023.
More than 200,000 people have already volunteered for the program; included amongst this number are some 500 Saudis and Arabs.
“In the coming years, a demonstration mission, communication satellites, two rovers and several cargo missions will be sent to Mars. These missions will set up the outpost where the human crew will live and work,” states the Mars One website.
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Although volunteers may find themselves excited by the prospect of this ground-breaking adventure, it may well turn out to be a one-way trip: there is currently no technology that would ensure a return trip to Earth.
The Islamic committee, which is headed by Professor Farooq Hamada, argued that attempting to live on Mars would be so hazardous that it would actually be suicidal; the teachings of Islam directly prohibit suicide.
“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," said Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf, Imam of the Amena Mosque.
“Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam," the committee stated on the dangers of the journey.
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This newest fatwa is one of around two million fatwas that the committee has issued since the 2008 inception of the Official Fatwa Centre.
The clerics’ decision draws directly from passages of the Quran. “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,'" the committee stated. "'Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.'”
The committee said that astronauts embarking on this mission would end up dying for no “righteous reason.” Thus, their punishment in the afterlife would be the same as that of someone who committed suicide.
Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp has expressed enthusiasm and appreciation for the large number of people who have submitted applications. In December, Mars One short-listed 1,058 people to take part in trials for the project.
Lansdorp has described the narrowing down of candidates as a “challenge,” as they’ll now have to separate “those who we feel are physically and mentally adept to become human ambassadors on Mars from those who are obviously taking the mission much less seriously.”
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