Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development issued a booklet with advice on observing the fasting month of Ramadan and other religious rituals in space. They provided the information to help two Malaysian Muslims who are involved in a contest for a ticket to the International Space Station. From the AFP:
The booklet covers Islamic washing rituals required before prayer, saying that if water is not available the astronaut can symbolically “sweep holy dust” onto the face and hands “even if there is no dust” in the space station.
There are also suggestions on how to pray in a zero-gravity environment.
“During the prayer ritual, if you can’t stand up straight, you can hunch. If you can’t stand, you can sit. If you can’t sit, you should lie down,” according to the booklet.
Muslims are required to eat food that is halal, which rules out pork and its by-products, alcohol and animals not slaughtered according to Koranic procedures are forbidden — but again in Space there is flexibility.
“If it is doubtful that the food has been prepared in the halal manner, you should eat just enough to ward off hunger,” the booklet said.
Two will eventually be trained and sent into space by Russia.
Performing ablutions for Muslim prayers with water rationing in space and preparing food according to Islamic standards will be among issues discussed.
The astronaut will also visit the International Space Station, which circles the earth 16 times in 24 hours, so another thorny question is how to pray five times a day as required by Islam. Muslims also have to turn towards Mecca to pray and working out which direction that will be while hovering above the earth might be challenging.