How Astronaut Muszaphar Shukor promoted Islam in space

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Fotoğraf: Guillermo Ferla Oze-Unsplash

As Muslims, we have been taught that everything we do must be for the promotion of Islam and the praise of Almighty Allah (SWT). Irrespective of you status in life as a Muslim, you must always follow the obligations of Islam at all times. The story of Muslim astronaut Muszaphar Shukor is one that exemplifies this character of a true believer. Even though he bagged the impressive achievement of being one of the few human beings to have flown in space, he ensured that he still promoted Islam even while in space. After all, Allah (SWT) is the Lord and Ruler of all the Worlds and the entire Cosmos.

This astronaut hails from the southeast Asian nation of Malaysia and one of the greatest aspirations of all governments and nations across the globe is for them to have a human being in space one day. So when the chance came for Malaysia to also have an astronaut in space, rigorous programs were put in place to assess and test all the candidates. It was very stiff and tough competition but at the end of it all, Muszaphar Shukor emerged as the one to fly the Malaysian flag into space in October 2007. This would have been just like any other typical space flight but this was a very different mission.

If there was any space mission that promoted Islam all through, then it was the mission of astronaut Muszaphar Shukor. It is precisely how he promoted Islam in space as an astronaut that will form the basis of this piece. A very interesting thing with his space flight was that it coincided with the last parts of the holy month of Ramadan. Hence, for the first time, the scholars had to come up with a very detailed guidebook that Muslims can use to worship even while still in space.

This guidebook contained everything from how to offer salats (prayers) in an environment of low gravity or even how to locate the direction of Mecca from the International Space Station. It also included information on how Muslims can determine the times for prayer when in orbit in addition to how they can still fast even while in space. All these were new as at that time because there had been no time that a Muslim in space had a guide on how to go about worship while in space. Thanks to Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, one of the first things that he did while in space was to not just use this comprehensive guide on Islam but also promote it.

Since the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS) meant that there were sunrises and sunsets every 90 minutes, the related issues concerning fasting were handled. It was the first time the issue of fasting in space by Muslims was addressed. A proud Muslim, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor also celebrated the Eid-Ul-Fitr festival on the ISS and when Ramadan ended, he shared some of his meals with other members of the crew.

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