An Islamic religious group which ruled that travel on a one-way trip to Mars is prohibited by Islam because it is tantamount to suicide is being slammed by online commenters and columnists who want to hear the same unequivocal religious ruling against jihadi suicide attacks.
It all began last week when a group in the United Arab Emirates known as the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment’s fatwa committee ruled that joining the Mars One mission to colonize Mars is prohibited under Islamic law.
“Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam,” the committee said according to the English-language Khaleej Times. “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.”
“Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse 4/29 of the Holy Quran: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful,” the committee said in its fatwa.
Responses were swiftly posted from those calling hypocrisy on the ruling, noting past religious stamps of approval of suicide bombings which have targeted not only Americans, Israelis and the west but are now a staple of Sunni-Shiite warfare most notably in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Just this weekend, a suicide bomber with the Nusra Front – a Sunni Islamist group – killed three at a Lebanese army checkpoint in a stronghold of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
“Muslim clerics finally forbid suicide missions but only on Mars,” read a headline in the Jewish Press.
“Does that mean that the Quran forbids Muslims to be suicide bombers? After all, the professor [on the fatwa committee] did say that the Muslim holy book says one should not kill himself,” wrote the Jewish Press. “Where were these guys when Palestinian Authority terrorists were blowing up, and still are trying to blow up Jews, and Hezbollah terrorists were blowing up and still are blowing up Sunni Muslims? Where were these leading religious figures on Sept. 10, 2011, or even the day after 9/11?”
Mark Whittington of the Houston Space News Examiner wrote, “Would a suicide bomber who traveled to Mars to kill infidel Mars colonists be committing a sin or would he die as a martyr? That is no doubt a thorny, theological question.”
A user with the handle “disqus_GS46e5I0h0” posted on the website ZeeNews India “let’s see…it’s ok to suicide bomb other people, including muslims, but it’s not ok to go somewhere else to live? yep, that deserves a really fat ‘wha’?”
Mediaite reader Dana Gorbea-Leon posted this comment, “A ‘real risk to life’ — really? Tell that to the Sunnis and Shia daily killing each other in the Middle East over differences in doctrine. Or to the Taliban and what they did to their own people in Afghanistan. Or the suicide bombers. Or …”
Mars One mission organizers invoked the Quran in a statement issued on Thursday refuting the fatwa and pointed to this verse, “And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are Signs for those who know. (Quran 30: 22)”
“The Muslim world has a rich tradition of exploration. The verse from the Quran above encourages Muslims to go out and see the signs of God’s creation in the ‘heavens and the earth’. The most influential example of this was the Moroccan Muslim traveler, Ibn Battuta, who from 1325 to 1355 travelled 73,000 miles, visiting the equivalent of 44 modern countries.” Mars One posted on its website. “Among the countries Ibn Battuta visited were Russia, Afghanistan, India, the Maldives, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and China.”
The Mars One project, a Dutch nonprofit foundation, received thousands of applications and has narrowed its list of colonists to 1,058 applicants.
Its website explains that the group aims to “establish a permanent human settlement on Mars” with crews of four departing every two years starting in 2024.
In 2010, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden faced criticism from conservative commentators after telling Al Jazeera that one of his “foremost” charges from President Barack Obama was outreach to the Muslim world.