How to practice religion in space

Certain religious rituals have kept pace with the sun for centuries. Devotees use bedtime as a reference point for breaking the fast on holidays like Yom Kippur or during the Ramadan period. These religious precepts are naturally based on the conditions of earthly life, so what will happen once these practices take place in space, where these landmarks will no longer be authentic? From the International Space Station (ISS), which circles the Earth at more than 27,000 kilometers per hour, astronauts witness 16 sunrises and sunsets per day. How, under these conditions, to continue practicing one’s religion? At a time when Elon Musk and other entrepreneurs want to develop space tourism, the question is less anecdotal than it sounds.

To better support the astronauts, various rabbis, as well as the National Council of Islamic Fatwa of Malaysia, have tried to trace the contours of the rituals in weightlessness.

Based on a terrestrial time zone

When Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the first practicing Muslim to remain aboard the ISS, visited space in 2007, Ramadan was about to begin. To better accompany you on your journey and in your faith, the National Council of Islamic Fatwa of Malaysia has issued some special directives. During Ramadan, fasting can be postponed until an astronaut returns to Earth, the magnets said. If a Muslim prefers to observe this ritual from space, it is recommended that he fast according to the time zone of the place where the rocket was launched. As for prayer, the obligation to kneel has been relaxed, the difficult task being in weightlessness. To achieve this in the face of Mecca, practitioners must be oriented at best, the council says.

On the rabbis’ side, religious scholars struggle to come to terms. No formal guidelines have been formulated for the celebration of Yom Kippur in space. Like the imams, Rabbi David Golinkin, president of the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, wrote in 2002 that astronauts should set their time zone to that of Texas in the United States, where the base is located. The NASA. Hunterdon Rabbi Eli Kornfeld told CNN Business that he agrees with Golinkin’s recommendations, but for his part advises avoiding accepting a space mission during important Jewish celebrations. To close the debate, he added that if one day millions of people lived or worked miles from Earth, the Jewish faith would evolve and adapt to circumstances.

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Fun fact, des celébrations religieuses ont eu lieu dans l’espace, notamment lors of mission Apollo 8 in 1968. Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong ont performed a rite of communion chrétienne after l’alunissage et avant de faire un grand pas pour l ‘ humanity.

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