The United Arab Emirates issued a religious law Thursday banning Muslims from manning a spaceflight voyage to Mars.
Starting in 2024, Dutch non-profit Mars One wants to start sending one-way manned missions to colonize the red planet, and has recently begun interviewing candidates for the project. None of those candidates will be devout Muslims from the UAE, thanks to a ruling by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment of the UAE.
“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,” the committee said in its decree according to a Times of Israel report.
The Mars One website includes “500 Saudis and other Arabs” in the 200,000 plus applicants for the mission so far. The General Authority of Islamic Affairs asserted the potential interplanetary travelers “may be interested in traveling to Mars for escaping punishment or standing before Almighty Allah,” which the group says would be futile anyway.
Numerous Muslim astronauts have already successfully traveled in space — most notably Sultan Salman Al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family and former Saudi Air Force pilot who was a payload specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1985, becoming the first Muslim in space.
Tesla Motors and Space X founder Elon Musk said in a recent interview that manned space flight to Mars for the purpose of long-term colonization could be a technological reality in as little as 10 years.