DUBAI // The Mars One space foundation has asked UAE Islamic authorities to cancel a fatwa warning Muslims not to travel to the planet.
On Wednesday, the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment (Awqaf) said in a religious edict that travel to the Red Planet would be so hazardous as to be suicidal, and killing oneself is not permitted in Islam.
In a response posted on the Mars One website, the non-profit organisation has asked Awqaf to “make the greatest Rihla, or journey, of all time open for Muslims too”.
It said there had been a rich tradition of Islamic exploration throughout history.
The foundation said a range of safety measures would be in place before humans ever set foot on the planet. It plans to have crew landing on Mars in 2025 after years of preparation.
“If we may be so bold: the GAIAE should not analyse the risk as they perceive it today,” said the foundation.
“The GAIAE should assess the potential risk for humans as if an unmanned habitable outpost is ready and waiting on Mars.
“Only when that outpost is established will human lives be risked in Mars One’s plan.”
Quoting a verse from the Quran, the company argued that it encouraged Muslims to go out and see the signs of God’s creation in the “heavens and Earth”.
“We would like to respectfully inform the GAIAE about elements of the Mars One mission that reduce the risk to human life as much as possible,” it said.
“It may seem extremely dangerous to send humans to Mars today, but the humans will be preceded by at least eight cargo missions.”
Unmanned robotic vehicles would prepare the habitable settlement before their arrival, said the company.
Water and a breathable atmosphere would be produced inside the settlement, which would be operational for two years before the first crew left Earth.
The cargo missions would land in a similar way to the human landing capsule and only after the landing technology had established a successful track record would humans be sent out.
“Any progress requires taking risks but in this case, the reward is ‘the next giant leap for mankind’. That reward is certainly worth the risks involved in this mission,” added the foundation.