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Saturday October 6, 2007

Guidebook for Muslims in space


PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has come up with the world’s first concise and comprehensive guidebook for Muslims in space. 

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Abdullah Md Zin said the book of guidelines would be translated into English, Russian, Arabic and possibly more languages, for the benefit of future Muslim astronauts. 

“There is a lot of interest in the book prepared by the Islamic Development Department (Jakim). 

“We even have foreign broadcasting stations like Al-Jazeera and Japan Broadcasting Corporation requesting for interviews solely on the guidelines. 

“The reason we formulated guidelines for Muslims in space is because we wanted to ensure our astronaut could fully concentrate on his mission, without having to worry about how he should perform his religious obligations in space,” he said yesterday. 

Malaysia’s Angkasawan will blast off to the International Space Station (ISS) on Oct 10. 

While medical officer Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, 35, and Armed Forces dental surgeon Kapt Dr Faiz Khaleed, 27 are both eligible to go to space, it is highly likely that Dr Sheikh Muszaphar will be the lucky one. 

Abdullah said astronomy was an integral part of Islamic civilisation and several prominent astrologers in world history were Muslims. 

He said the book, titled Guidelines for Performing Islamic Rites at the International Space Station, among others teaches the Muslim astronaut how to cleanse himself the Islamic way, on performing ablution, determining the Qiblat (the location of Kaabah) and prayer times as well as on how to fast in space. 

“Jakim painstakingly collected views and opinion from ulamas, religious scholars and scientists, before coming up with the guidelines. We are happy to share this 18-page book with the rest of the world,” he said.  

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