UAE’s first astronaut is issued Islamic guidelines telling him how to pray in space when he is observing 16 sunrises a day… and how to check he is always facing Mecca
- Hazzaa Al Mansoori will take off for the International Space Station this week
- He will become the first man in space from an Arab country since the late 1980s
- Dubai’s Islamic officials have advised him to stick to Mecca’s daily timings
The UAE’s first ever astronaut has been issued with a set of Islamic guidelines which tell him how to practise his faith in space.
Astronauts on the International Space Station witness 16 sunrises and sunsets a day, making life more difficult for observant Muslims who are expected to pray and fast according to the time of day.
Hazzaa Al Mansouri, who was selected from more than 4,000 applicants to become the UAE’s first man in space, will take off from Kazakhstan on Wednesday and Dubai’s Islamic Affairs Authority has provided him with the answers.
According to The National, the advice says he should time his prayers to match the time of day in Mecca.
Hazzaa Al Mansouri (pictured during a pre-flight examination) will become the UAE’s first astronaut this week when he takes off for the International Space Station
A previous Muslim astronaut, Malaysia’s Sheikh Muszapher Shukor, was advised to follow the time of day in Kazakhstan where his rocket took off, officials said.
But Mecca, as Islam’s holiest city, ‘takes precedent’ as there is ‘no point in following the timings of the launch country,’ the UAE booklet says.
Being in space does not lift the requirements of Ramadan, the official advice says, when Muslims are expected to fast from dawn until dusk.
‘It is important for the astronaut to know their timings’ during the holy month, the booklet reads.
However, Al Mansouri is only expected to spend eight days in space, and the month of Ramadan has already happened this year.
On top of that, Muslims are expected to face towards Mecca when they pray – posing another difficulty for astronauts in zero gravity who are rapidly orbiting the Earth.
The UAE astronaut is advised to face Earth if he can, but pray in any direction if that proves too difficult.
Hazzaa Al Mansouri, pictured earlier this month, has been advised to follow the daily timings in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, in order to fulfil his prayer requirements
A Russian Soyuz booster rocket is installed on the launch pad in Kazakhstan today, where Al Mansouri and two fellow astronauts will take off on Wednesday
Similarly, Dubai officials say Al Mansouri should do his best to observe the ritual of ablution, or washing oneself before prayer.
However, if water is not readily available, he could use a stone or grain of sand instead, they suggest.
Al Mansouri will join Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and U.S. astronaut Jessica Meir on the ISS when the rocket launches from Kazakhstan on Wednesday.
The UAE astronaut will return on October 3 while his two colleagues will return in spring next year, according to NASA.
‘Our flag will go, our dreams, our passion [for] this country,’ Al Mansouri said after he was selected earlier this year.
He will become only the third astronaut from an Arab country, and the first since the 1980s.
Saudi Arabia’s Sultan Bin Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud flew on an American Space Shuttle mission in 1985, and and Muhammed Faris from Syria joined a Soviet space flight two years later.