The first Muslim to blast off into space…and what does the Islamic society worry about? How he is going to perform his prayers and fulfill his obligations as a Muslim. The Islamic Development Department of Malaysia has come up with comprehensive guidelines in space in the form of a book. The guidebook will be translated into English, Russian, Arabic and more.

What wonders what the astronaut is going to do in space. Is he going to fast during the fasting month, ensure the vitamin pills he eats contain no animal products which may not have been slaughtered in the Islamic condoned way, and pray five times a day facing the right direction despite the lack of gravitational pull in space? That is a tall order. Is he supposed to prove that Malaysians can go to space or that Malaysians are pious Muslims in space? When one gets sidetracked with one’s aims, the results may be hilarious if not dire. Space is fraught with enough dangers without the constant worry of religious ceremony and rites. That is not to say that one cannot believe in God or say a quiet prayer in awe of one’s surroundings when one is floating in the wide and endless universe. But to compromise one’s safety and others in the mission just to demonstrate that one is religious borders on insanity. This is really living up to the idiom one step forward for mankind, many steps backward for the Muslim fundamentalists.