If you were excited about the possibility of taking a one-way trip to Mars in the next decade and you just happen to be an observant Muslim, you may suddenly be out of luck.
The Khaleej Times of Dubai reports that a fatwa committee has forbidden Muslims from taking a one-way trip to the Red Planet. You may recall that the Mars One project aims to send a group of colonists to Mars as soon as 2024, followed by a second group a few years later.
At the moment, there is no technology available that would allow for a return trip from Mars, so it is truly a one-way ticket for the colonists, who may also become reality TV stars in the process.
The committee of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates that issued the fatwa against such a journey doesn't have anything against space exploration,Elon Musk's Mars visions, or anything like that. Rather, the religious leaders argue that making the trip would be tantamount to committing suicide, which all religions tend to frown upon.
"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," the committee said.
Professor Farooq Hamada, who presided over the committee, explained, "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."
Hundreds of Saudis and other Arabs have applied to Mars One, and the committee suspects some may be interested in the trip "for escaping punishment or standing before Almighty Allah for judgment," according to the Khaleej Times.
The committee stood firm in its belief that this approach would be a waste of time and one very long trip: "This is an absolutely baseless and unacceptable belief because not even an atom falls outside the purview of Allah, the Creator of everything."
In the end, the whole discussion may all be moot, because even though Mars One is moving forward, it's only raised about 80 percent of its initial $400,000 crowdfunding campaign. That's not a huge vote of confidence in an international project that will ultimately need billions to succeed.