Just Pray … learning from Astronauts

Edit: Ramadan 2023 …

How people in space will observe fast during Ramadan 2023? 

The International Space Station (ISS) will see 16 sunrises and sunsets over the course of 24 hours – either happening every 45 minutes approximately for people fasting there.

Gulf News

I recently discovered that there is guidance for how a Muslim astronaut should pray in space. Yes it’s true, this guidance was the result of 150 scholars and Muslim scientists who gathered to discuss these issues and offer guidance.

Discussions were had around how the individual would manage wudu in an environment with limited water and even less earth on board the spaceship.

How to face Mecca and what time to pray when travelling at such a high speed and they would see the sunset and rise some 16 times a day.

As they spin they they might be unable to face the earth let alone Mecca.

The resulting guidance around how to pray in an environment so different from that experienced by Muhammed simply used common sense.

The conclusion was that they could simply adopt a time zone from earth (They suggested they based this on the launch site) and to set their times from there and face earth when they can. For wudu they simply offered him a grain of salt.

But above all they suggested that even if there were challenges the bottom line was just to pray.

So what can we learn from this?

Across the world many Muslims live in places where their lives are so different from the world the Prophet Muhammed inhabited. For example Muslims in Northern Europe may well face similar issues due to the long nights and long days at different times of the year. Others might find the same issue around a shortage of precious water.

When discussing prayers I see many people suggesting that if just one small detail is wrong your prayers are invalid and worse still some even threaten hell and damnation.

Such unhelpful guidance fails the recognise the complexity and challenges of a changing world and the experiences of Muslims across the globe.

Such responses also forget that the Prophet Muhammed adapted his prayer routines as he travelled and at times through lack of water.

So simply pray and pray, how and where works for you remembering that that core pillar of Islam simply guides us to pray.

Yes, follow the instructions within the Quran and the guidance set by the example of the Prophet Mohammed whenever you can. But if you are a new Muslim or challenged by your situation just focus on prayer itself.

If we focus on the complexity of prayer we’ll often stop ourselves completing the basics.

So Pray…and remember Allah is all forgiving (Al-Ghafūr الغفور)

“And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah].”

Surah 2:45

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