How will Muslims pray in space: Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR: How do Muslim astronauts pray in space? Malaysia’s National Space Agency is holding a conference to consider such questions as the country prepares to send its first citizen into orbit.
A nationwide competition in the majority-Muslim country has narrowed the field to four astronaut candidates, three of whom are Muslims.
Two will eventually be trained and sent into space by Russia, and Malaysia’s space agency - Angkasa - said it had been scratching its head over how Muslim rituals could be carried out properly.
Performing ablutions for Muslim prayers with water rationing in space and preparing food according to Islamic standards will be among the issues discussed, said Angkasa Director General Mazlan Othman.
“So far, Angkasa has not discussed these matters with Russia because the candidates have not been decided and the needs of Malaysian astronauts have not been determined,” Mazlan was quoted as saying by the state-run Bernama news agency.
“We have to make preparations to discuss with Russia when the time comes,” she added.
The astronaut will also visit the International Space Station, which circles the earth 16 times in 24 hours, so another thorny question will be: How to pray five times a day as required by Islam, she said. Working out the direction of Mecca while hovering above the earth will also prove challenging.
The two-day Islam and Life in Space seminar will begin next Tuesday, bringing together 150 scientists, astronauts, religious scholars and academics.
An official from the Malaysian Astronomy and Islamic Law Association said that the gathering would be the first time the Islamic world mulled life in space. AFP