Pioneering non-profit outfit Mars One has asked the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endownment (GAIAE) to rescind the fatwa it issued earlier in the week which barred Muslims from traveling to the red planet.
Citing the Quran and the travels of a famous Middle Ages Muslim explorer, the private Netherlands-based initiative made the case that exploration by nature involves certain risks, but that the Mars colonization effort would not begin until a habitat was created for humans to settle.
Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan Muslim explorer who lived from 1325 to 1355 traveled an impressive 73,000 miles during his short career, chronicling his travels to places like Russia, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and the Maldives in his journal, Rihla, which has been an invaluable tool to historians due to its detailed descriptions of medieval societies across the world.
Acknowledging that the fatwa only bars Muslims from traveling to Mars – and not from participating in the ten-year mission to prepare the expedition – the space-colonization enterprise offered to work with GAIAE over the next decade to assess the risk to future colonists as work is completed remotely by rovers on the planned colony.
In the press release, Mars One respectfully requested the fatwa be canceled to allow Muslims to participate in the mission, so that "They can be the first Muslims to witness the signs of God’s creation in heaven, drawing upon the rich culture of travel and exploration of early Islam."
The fatwa was issued after Mars One announced that it will build a colony for four people on Earth's nearest neighbor by 2025.
The GAIAE, an agency of the United Arab Emirates' government, explained that the attempt to colonize Mars is dangerous and equivalent to suicide, which is forbidden in Islam.
"A one-way journey like this presents substantial mortal danger and this cannot be justified according to Islamic law. There is the possibility that a man who travels to Mars will not survive and die," read the fatwa.
Roei Eisenberg contributed to this report