Op/Ed: From mosques on Mars to meeting Martians: the dilemmas awaiting Muslims in space

The UAE is planning to send four Emirati astronauts into space by 2021. Courtesy Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future

Different religions will need to dig deep into their theology to tackle the dilemmas their astronauts will face.

Islamic theology is well-suited to support space travel, exploration and habitation. After all, the Quran includes the verse: “All praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds.” In addition, the Quran dangles the challenge for humanity to cut through the boundaries of inner space and reach other planets and galaxies. It employs imagery that hints at rockets and space travel – but only with Divine permission.

If it’s true that within the next century humanity will be living on Mars, you might want to build a mosque. Experts are already designing homes that can be 3D printed once people arrive on Mars, to save on transportation. I can envisage 3D printed mosques with rotating prayer spaces that constantly adjust themselves to remain pointed at Makkah.

The most fascinating questions will be ethical ones about interactions with other life forms. What’s the right etiquette when you meet a Martian? Could they have a religion? Could you marry one?

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