The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment (GAIAE) has just announced a fatwa, a formal religious edict, against the Mars One company and its planned one-way trip to Mars in order to begin a Martian colony.
The issue here: the one-way nature of the mission and its inherent dangers.
According to the fatwa, “such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam . . . there is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death.” Additionally, the committee issuing the edict also said that anyone who died on the mission would be likely receive a “punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter.”
Additionally, Islamic researcher Dr Shaikh Mohammed Al Ashmawy (who was not on the committee) said that “Almighty Allah said in verse 2/195 in the Holy Quran: Do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction.”
The need to issue such a pronouncement came after it was reported that about 500 people from Muslim majority nations signed up for the mission.
However, Mars One co-founder and CEO Bas Lansdorp is not taking the pronouncement without issuing a respectful rebuttal.
Citing past achievements by Muslims in regards to both science and exploration, Lansdorp said that "the Muslim world has for centuries had a rich tradition of exploration . . . the mission to Mars is a road that has never been walked before, even though the first settlers will be walking in the footsteps of Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, Neil Armstrong, or any of the other great explorers in history.”
As for the implication that the mission is unsafe, Lansdorp disagrees, stating that “we would like to respectfully inform the GAIAE about elements of the Mars One mission that reduce the risk to human life as much as possible. It may seem extremely dangerous to send humans to Mars today, but the humans will be preceded by at least eight cargo missions.” Lansdorp added that these cargo missions will deliver all the goods to get started on Mars ahead of the first humans so that, when the first astronauts arrive, they won't be lacking for supplies.
Lastly, Lansdorp has asked gor the GAIAE to cancel the fatwa to “make the greatest Rihla, or journey, of all time open for Muslims.”
So far, the GAIAE has not issued a response.
As for the concept itself, Mars One is currently in the process of whittling down its thousands of applicants into the 40 people it feels are most suited to become astronaut trainees, who will then be whittled down to 10 for the actual mission itself, which has a goal of a 2023 manned landing on Mars. The company hopes to use revenues brought in from a reality television show that will document the astronaut selection process as well as through other avenues to fund the mission.
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