A Muslim Astronaut’s Dilemma

How do you fast from sunrise to sunset when you see a sunrise and a sunset every 90 minutes? A spaceship travelling 17,400 miles per hour orbits the earth 16 times in a day. Does that mean praying 80 times in 24 hours?

From ISS, orbiting 220 miles above the surface of the Earth, the qibla changing from second to second. During some parts of the space station’s orbit, the qibla can move nearly 180 degrees during the course of a single prayer. What’s a devout Muslim to do?

In such conditions how do you obey Quran’s verdict :-

Quran (2_149)(“Turn then thy face towards the Sacred Mosque: wherever ye are, turn your faces towards it, that is indeed the truth from the Lord. And Allah is not unmindful of what ye do..… ” The Quran, Al-Baqarah, 2:149).

How do you fast from sunrise to sunset when you see a sunrise and a sunset every 90 minutes? A spaceship traveling 17,400 miles per hour orbits the earth 16 times in a day. Does that mean praying 80 times in 24 hours?

Five times a day (before sunrise, at midday, in late afternoon, after sunset, and at night), earth-bound muezzins call Muslims to prayer. A spaceship traveling 17,400 miles per hour orbits the earth 16 times in a day. Does that mean praying 80 times in 24 hours? This and such related questions arise when any Muslim goes into space .

Muslim Astranaut-3

Sultan bin Salman ‎ (born 27 June 1956) is a former Royal Saudi Air Force pilot who flew aboard the STS-51-G Space Shuttle mission as a payload specialist, and a member of the House of Saud. He is thus the first Member of a royal family to be an astronaut, and the first Arab and Muslim to fly in outer space.

Sultan bin Salman ‎ (born 27 June 1956) is a former Royal Saudi Air Force pilot who flew aboard the STS-51-G Space Shuttle mission as a payload specialist, and a member of the House of Saud. He is thus the first member of a royal family to be an astronaut, and the first Arab and Muslim to fly in outer space.

Muslim Astranaut-2

Eight Muslims traveled to space so far. Top right: Al-Saud, Faris, Mohmand, Aubakirov. Bottom right: Manarov, Sharipov, Musabayev, Ansari.

By 2007, Seven Muslims had gone into space, but probably never raised these questions. But when Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor of Malaysia, a crew member on the 16th mission for the International Space Station, was ready to give thumbs-up near the Soyuz-TMA capsule before the final test outside Moscow on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007, he was to travel with lots of preparation.

He referred the matter to higher authorities and Malaysia’s space agency, Angkasa, convened a conference of 150 Islamic scientists and scholars last year to wrestle with these and other questions. The resulting document, “A Guideline of Performing Ibadah (worship) at the International Space Station (ISS)”, was approved by Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council earlier in 2007. According to the report, determining the qibla should be “based on what is possible” for the astronaut, and can be prioritized this way: 1) the Ka’aba, 2) the projection of Ka’aba, 3) the Earth, 4) wherever.

Everyone who goes to space feels a miracle. During my trip in space that took place in the holy month of Ramadan, I heard a ‘call to prayer’ in the Space Station,

Muslim Astranaut

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor of Malaysia, a crew member on the 16th mission for the International Space Station, was ready to give thumbs-up near the Soyuz-TMA capsule before the final test outside Moscow on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007,

In the light of the given solution, “Time for fasting and prayer depends on where you are situated in space. As the space shuttle was launched from Kazakhstan, we took into consideration the local time in Kazakhstan. I prayed five times a day by taking into consideration the time in Kazakhstan. You had to turn your face toward the earth in order to pray in the direction of Mecca. The Space Station was in a position from where you could see the earth directly,” said Shukor. He added, “Everyone who goes to space feels a miracle. During my trip in space that took place in the holy month of Ramadan, I heard a ‘call to prayer’ in the Space Station,” Shukor said in an interview with Anatolia news agency.

Questions like these will continue as more and more religious astronauts travel into space. When is sunset in low Earth orbit if you’re experiencing a dozen sunrises and sunsets in every 24-hour period? When does Ramdhan begin on the moon, where the sun sets once a month? When is the first sighting of the crescent moon if you’re on Mars? Religious councils of all faiths will have plenty to keep them busy for years.

Page-2--A List Of Muslim Astronauts


Muslim astronaut are ready for blast off

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Retired as Aeronautical Engineer, and worked as a journalist for a long time. Settled down to dedicate myself to the service of the religion. Have translated holy Quran in poetry, and I am in the process of writing Tafsir. I encourage all interested to send articles to this website, where the articles shall be printed with their own names. If you like an article, please "Like' in the "Facebook box" on right side

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