Worship in space!
Ever wondered about how a muslim would pray and fast while being on outer space?Well,I know that this is an ‘already-discussed’ topic, but still I’d like to have a post on this topic and try to collect as many resources as possible..
When a Muslim says his daily prayers, he ought to face Mecca, specifically the Ka’aba, the holiest place in Islam (“Turn then thy face towards the Sacred Mosque: wherever ye are, turn your faces towards it ….” Quran, Al-Baqarah, 2:149). That’s where the trouble comes in. From International space station, orbiting 220 miles above the surface of the Earth, the qibla (an Arabic word meaning the direction a Muslim should pray toward Mecca) changes 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 do we do now??
A Muslim is obliged to pray five times a day (before sunrise, at midday, in late afternoon, after sunset, and at night).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?
Malaysia‘s space agency, Angkasa, convened a conference of 150 Islamic scientists and scholars to wrestle with these questions. The resulting document (link provided below), “A Guideline of Performing Ibadah (worship) at the International Space Station (ISS)”, was approved by Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council. 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) any direction.
Dr. Kamal Abdali, a Muslim cartographer, “Prayer is not supposed to be a gymnastic exercise. One is supposed to concentrate on the prayer rather the exact orientation.” He points out that in a train or plane, it’s customary to start in the qibla direction but then continue the prayer without worrying about possible changes in position. Now that sounds reasonable to me.
People have found ways to celebrate other religions above Earth. Israel’s first astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died in the shuttle Columbia accident, was not a religious Jew, but he ate some Kosher food aboard the shuttle and observed the Jewish Sabbath. But rather than observing Sabbath every seventh sundown, Ramon followed the timings on Earth.
A Guideline of Performing Ibadah at the International Space Station (ISS)