Monday, October 08, 2007

Guidebook for Muslims in space

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has come up with the world’s first concise and comprehensive guidebook for Muslims in space.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Abdullah Md Zin said the book of guidelines would be translated into English, Russian, Arabic and possibly more languages, for the benefit of future Muslim astronauts.

“There is a lot of interest in the book prepared by the Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

“We even have foreign broadcasting stations like Al-Jazeera and Japan Broadcasting Corporation requesting for interviews solely on the guidelines.

“The reason we formulated guidelines for Muslims in space is because we wanted to ensure our astronaut could fully concentrate on his mission, without having to worry about how he should perform his religious obligations in space,” he said yesterday.

Malaysia’s Angkasawan will blast off to the International Space Station (ISS) on Oct 10.

While medical officer Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, 35, and Armed Forces dental surgeon Kapt Dr Faiz Khaleed, 27 are both eligible to go to space, it is highly likely that Dr Sheikh Muszaphar will be the lucky one.

Abdullah said astronomy was an integral part of Islamic civilisation and several prominent astrologers in world history were Muslims.

He said the book, titled Guidelines for Performing Islamic Rites at the International Space Station, among others teaches the Muslim astronaut how to cleanse himself the Islamic way, on performing ablution, determining the Qiblat (the location of Kaabah) and prayer times as well as on how to fast in space.

“Jakim painstakingly collected views and opinion from ulamas, religious scholars and scientists, before coming up with the guidelines. We are happy to share this 18-page book with the rest of the world,” he said.

Source : The Star Online

Jakim's Director of Research, Anan C. Mohd said the chosen astronaut has the option of either fasting in space or replacing those days when he is back on earth as he is considered a traveller.

"Should he choose to fast in space, it would be a great experience and we would look forward to him sharing his experience so that we can document it."

Islam allows for a certain flexibility in observing the rituals.

Anan said the astronaut will be observing his fast and other religious obligations following the time of the nearest place to the ISS. In this case, it will be based according to the local time at Baikanor, the launching pad.

The astronaut need only pray five times daily following the practice on Earth, even though the ISS will be orbiting Earth 16 times a day.

On the direction for praying, he should be facing Makkah. However, under the circumstances that do not permit him to do so, he should face the direction of Makkah or Earth or any direction, in that order.

When it comes to ritual cleansing or ablution, owing to the limited supply of water and the absence of dust in the ISS, the astronaut only needs to rub both his palms on the wall, glass or seat.

"There is no conflict between Islam and science.

"Islam encourages its followers to appreciate and explore outer space," Anan added.

Source :Program Angkasawan Negara Advertorial

Download of A Guideline To Ibadah At ISS
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