Muslim clerics issue fatwa banning the devout from Mars One 'suicide' mission

Martian mavericks bite back with Quran quotes


A religious row has broken out over Mars One's plans to send volunteers to the Red Planet on a one-way mission that will be televised for the world's entertainment.

In April the Dutch group Mars One announced plans to send four people to a Martian habitat by 2023, with more settlers arriving every two years. The estimated $6bn cost of the trip will be covered by the sale of TV rights. But now the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment (GAIAE) has issued a fatwa forbidding devout Muslims from taking part.

"Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam," the committee said, The Khaleej Times reports. "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."

Up to 500 Muslims are reported to have applied for the Mars One mission, and the GAIAE indicated that some of these people may be trying to escape punishment for crimes here on Earth, or avoid confronting God when they die. It said such efforts were futile since God was everywhere, both on Mars and Earth.

The fatwa, or legal ruling, is the historical form of guidance handed down to those following the Islamic faith, based on a writings in the Quran, or on the accounts of the teachings and practices of the Prophet Mohammed (the Sunnah), or from religious doctrine decided by Muslim clerics.

"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," said the GAIAE's President Professor Dr Farooq Hamada.

The Dutch team behind Mars One begs to differ. In a statement the group said that exploration was a long-standing Muslim tradition and the Quran encouraged adherents to explore the wonders of God's creation.

The group says the mission is not suicidal, since advance missions will deliver to Mars all the necessary ingredients for life before the first humans arrive. This will also give Mars One time to practice their landings using unmanned vessels to reduce the risk of crashing the astronauts onto the Red Planet's surface.

"Mars One respectfully requests GAIAE to cancel the fatwa and make the greatest Rihla, or journey, of all times open for Muslims too," said Mars One.

"They can be the first Muslims to witness the signs of God's creation in heaven, drawing upon the rich culture of travel and exploration of early Islam. The lives and journey of the first Mars settlers will tell us more about our place in the universe than any other humans before us."

In the meantime the team notes that the fatwa only prohibits Muslims from going on the actual mission, not from applying to take part and undergo the eight years of training required for the trip. The team vowed to work with the GAIAE to assuage its concerns in the meantime. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Will this be one of the world's first RISC-V laptops?
    A sneak peek at a notebook that could be revealed this year

    Pic As Apple and Qualcomm push for more Arm adoption in the notebook space, we have come across a photo of what could become one of the world's first laptops to use the open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture.

    In an interview with The Register, Calista Redmond, CEO of RISC-V International, signaled we will see a RISC-V laptop revealed sometime this year as the ISA's governing body works to garner more financial and development support from large companies.

    It turns out Philipp Tomsich, chair of RISC-V International's software committee, dangled a photo of what could likely be the laptop in question earlier this month in front of RISC-V Week attendees in Paris.

    Continue reading
  • Did ID.me hoodwink Americans with IRS facial-recognition tech, senators ask
    Biz tells us: Won't someone please think of the ... fraud we've stopped

    Democrat senators want the FTC to investigate "evidence of deceptive statements" made by ID.me regarding the facial-recognition technology it controversially built for Uncle Sam.

    ID.me made headlines this year when the IRS said US taxpayers would have to enroll in the startup's facial-recognition system to access their tax records in the future. After a public backlash, the IRS reconsidered its plans, and said taxpayers could choose non-biometric methods to verify their identity with the agency online.

    Just before the IRS controversy, ID.me said it uses one-to-one face comparisons. "Our one-to-one face match is comparable to taking a selfie to unlock a smartphone. ID.me does not use one-to-many facial recognition, which is more complex and problematic. Further, privacy is core to our mission and we do not sell the personal information of our users," it said in January.

    Continue reading
  • Meet Wizard Spider, the multimillion-dollar gang behind Conti, Ryuk malware
    Russia-linked crime-as-a-service crew is rich, professional – and investing in R&D

    Analysis Wizard Spider, the Russia-linked crew behind high-profile malware Conti, Ryuk and Trickbot, has grown over the past five years into a multimillion-dollar organization that has built a corporate-like operating model, a year-long study has found.

    In a technical report this week, the folks at Prodaft, which has been tracking the cybercrime gang since 2021, outlined its own findings on Wizard Spider, supplemented by info that leaked about the Conti operation in February after the crooks publicly sided with Russia during the illegal invasion of Ukraine.

    What Prodaft found was a gang sitting on assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars funneled from multiple sophisticated malware variants. Wizard Spider, we're told, runs as a business with a complex network of subgroups and teams that target specific types of software, and has associations with other well-known miscreants, including those behind REvil and Qbot (also known as Qakbot or Pinkslipbot).

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022