What it was like practicing Islam for the first Malaysian in space

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This article, describing the 2007 flight of the first Malaysian in space, launched as a passenger in a Russian Soyuz capsule, is mostly worth reading because it goes into details on the Islamic religious rules the astronaut had to follow to practice the religion in space.

Muszaphar had to spend time going through an instruction manual on daily religious rituals provided by Malaysian mullahs. Vyacheslav Urlyapov of the Moscow-based Centre for Southeast Asia, Australia, and Oceania Studies, RAS Institute of Oriental Studies, sums up the cosmonaut’s experience: “The 11-day flight overlapped in part the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims had been in orbit before him, but it fell to Muszaphar to comply with the detailed instructions written for him by Islamic theologians (ulema) to remain a true believer in space, too.”

Muslims are required to face in the general direction of the city of Mecca while saying the mandatory – five times a day – prayers. But locating the tiny city from space is not an easy task, especially when you are hurtling around Earth at more than 17,000 km per hour. Also, in space there is no sense of direction – as we know it on land. The Malaysian cosmonaut was therefore all at sea during his first space flight.

Mercifully, Muszaphar was released from fasting, and was allowed to say shorter prayers and perform daily rituals according to Kazakhstan time. Plus, he didn’t have to face the constant ordeal of locating Mecca.

Kind of describes the problems when a medieval religion is thrust into the 21st century. The medieval religion has to change.



  • Cotour

    Change? Good luck with that.

    Islam has the next 1000 years (it will probably only take 100) to permeate every country, every government, every computer program I would suppose and every person allowed to be born. Islam needs to be reclassified as a military document and not exclusively a religious document and that is the only way it will be changed. Ultimately Islam is a Trojian horse and its inside the gates of all Democracies and apparently now space capsules and time is its only limitation, and they have nothing but time and infinite patience.

    See France and Briton for the live real time update on the issue, the most popular name in Briton? Mohamad, I know you guessed it.

  • hondo

    Islam has a simple solution. Ban it. If they can blow up Buddhas. ancient historical sites, and some even dream of destroying the pyramids – banning space is easy!

    If other muslims object – declare them heretics and kill them. Simple!

  • Dave

    In a contest with Absolute Right and eternal happiness or torment on one side, and modern sensibilities and aspirations on the other, people are going to side with the eternal.

  • Tom Billings

    I still think that an imperial religion, like Islam was, and like the Caliphate Revivalists are seeking to make it once again, will adapt to industrial society and its freedoms *only* when the Caliphate Revivalists are pounded into the ground.

    That is what happened to Christianity after the 30 Years War made it clear that the power of the Holy Roman Empire was never going to be revived as a full empire. The HRE lasted in name another 170 years, but in name only. Otherwise, the Treaty that ended the 30YW stated it thus, “Ius regio, ius religio” , or, “who rules?, *his* religion”, as the basis of religion in Europe’s nation states. That ended the last excuse for the Hapsburgs to attempt to coerce the States of Germany, or anywhere else, into the imperial strait jacket.

    Unfortunately, unlike Christianity, Islam’s scripture was written *within* the imperial confines, and had no time to gain any independence from imperial demands. The Caliphs commissioned the Koran, and edited it. Thus, it commands obeisance to the imperial Caliphate above all else, whenever the rule is applied that the latest sura of the Koran takes precedence when there is a question as to which of any two applies. Since the Koran becomes ever more imperial as the suras progress, this means that imperium seems natural.

    However, that simply means that the rule of precedence has to be dropped, throughout as much of the ummah of Islam as is possible. That is the only reform that mainstream Islam requires to begin adapting to industrial society. Getting there should be our goal in WW4. The rest window dressing.

  • pzatchok

    Its not just that the radicals are willing to destroy all things not Islam its that the religion itself was founded in the destruction of knowledge and history.

    10 years after Mohamed died the third Calif(sp?) ordered that an official copy of the Quran be written and then ALL others be destroyed. The copy Mohamed’s wife held was allowed to be kept intact.

    For the next several hundred years every written word that was found that was not an official Quran was burned.
    The illiterate and uneducated burned everything just to make sure. Including histories and records of their own tribes and people.
    When a library was found they split up the books and papers evenly among the warriors as ‘prizes’, part of the plunder with no regard to content.

    Ignorant savages, and the radicals want to go back to those days.

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