Feeds

Malaysian astronauts told: Space is no bar to prayers

Guidelines issued

Top three mobile application threats

As Malaysia prepares to send its first astronaut to space, the country's space agency planners find themselves facing an unusual problem: when your religious observances are dictated in large part by the sun, how can you keep the faith while orbiting the Earth?

The country has had Islamic scholars working on the problem for a year, and have come up with a set of guidlelines to help their astronaut to meet his religious obligations when he arrives at the International Space Station later this year.

So far, only two muslims have travelled to space: Prince Sultan bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who took a trip on the space shuttle Discovery in 1985, and more recently Anousheh Ansari, who travelled to the space station last year on a Russian space tourist ticket.

It is not known how those trailblazers kept up their practices, but The Times reports that Malaysia is insisting that its astronauts do not use the trifling inconvenience of being aboard the ISS as an excuse to slack off from prayers.

Mustafa Abdul Rahman, the head of its Department of Islamic Development said: “Circumstances on the ISS that are different from circumstance on Earth are not an obstacle for an astronaut to fulfil a Muslim’s obligations.”

The as-yet-unselected-astronaut, who is scheduled to travel to the ISS in October 2007, will most likely be aboard the space station during the holy month of Ramadan. During this period, Muslims traditionally do not allow food or drink to pass their lips while the sun is up. So Malaysian authorities have tried to work out exactly how their astronaut will know when he can and cannot eat: after all, when orbiting the earth, there are several sunrises and sunsets in each 24 hour day.

Other puzzlers that the scholars have tackled include: how do you make sure your astronauts can get their five daily prayer sessions in when Mecca isn't in the same relative position for more than a spilt second? How do you hold the prayer position when you are floating in free fall? When water is so scarce, how can you make sure you clean yourself properly before each prayer session?

For the record, the guidelines say that fasting can be made up for upon the astronaut's return to Earth, non-Halal food may be consumed only to "restrain hunger", and daily prayers? Well, they can be performed "according to the capability of the astronaut". ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.