Think being a Muslim on this planet is not easy? Try being a Muslim in orbit. For starters, which way do you face while praying? (And how do you lay down your prayer rug?)
Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor of Malaysia, a crew member on the 16th mission for the International Space Station, is lifting off to space today in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, Wired reports. The ten day trip will take place during the holy month of Ramadan.
Being a devout Muslim, the astronaut is planning to do what he has to do. To start with, he will fast. Where will he face while praying, you ask?
Malaysia’s space agency, Angkasa, convened a conference of 150 Islamic scientists and scholars last year to wrestle with this and other burning questions and published “A Guideline of Performing Ibadah (worship) at the International Space Station (ISS)”. According to the report, determining the qibla (a direction a Muslim should pray toward Mecca) should be “based on what is possible” for the astronaut, and can be prioritized this way: 1) the Ka’aba, 2) the projection of Ka’aba, 3) the Earth, 4) wherever.
Wherever? Is that just north of Orlando?