More than 150 delegates attended a seminar to consider how to pray in space given the difficulties of locating Mecca and holding the prayer position in zero gravity; as well as other questions such as halal food and washing.
The International Space Station (ISS) moves at almost 17,000 mph, so the relative position of Mecca is constantly shifting. With 16 orbits a day, and the timing of five daily prayers determined in relation to sunrise and sunset, devout Muslim astronauts could find themselves intoning their chants 80 times in 24 hours.
Well, that would be terrible, obviously. And not at all funny.
Fortunately, the Islamic Astronomers' Association is on the case. Taking a break from calculating the most auspicious times to stone women to death, these top Muslim boffins have gathered near Kuala Lumpur to discuss how to get around what would normally be considered cast iron strictures.
And they’re already off to a flying start, if you’ll pardon the pun. With the keen sense of priorities for which Islamic jurisprudence is justly famed, delegates dealt with the difficulties of hanging rape victims in zero gravity in five minutes flat, by means of a brief reference to the potentialities offered by the presence of airlocks.
I’m sure we all wish them well in their noble struggle to bring obscurantist medieval theocracy to the stars.
Another aspiring astronaut prepares for blast-off, yesterday.