Islamic Rituals Face a Celestial Test

Scholars send astronaut aloft with guide to following Koran in orbit
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2007 1:44 PM CDT
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(Newser) – He wasn’t the first Muslim in space, but Malaysia's Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor will be the first to follow customized guidelines for religious observance in orbit, the Guardian reports. Praying toward Mecca and fasting between sunrise and sunset seemed impossible until scholars spent a year bringing the challenges down to Earth ahead of Shukor's blastoff today for the International Space Station.

Shukor will be allowed to use his launching point as reference for praying to Mecca; otherwise, considering his orbit, he’d have to supplicate himself 80 times a day. And he’ll be allowed to save his fasting until he's back on land. The clerics’ findings so intrigued Malaysia's population that local press ran supplements explaining their positions.