I was wondering: If we manage to go to mars and start living there, we would probably have religious people going there as well. And those people need to pray. Quite a lot of religious temples have to be facing a specific direction or landmark. How would we do that on another planet? Are there any rules regarding that matter? Would they have to build a rotating temple? Maybe have to go to outer space to point at the correct direction to practice their religions?
I’m pretty sure someone could design an app for that. (Not a joke answer)
Probably not even that difficult. I have an app right now that tells me when the ISS is going over, and it is amazingly accurate. Finding Mecca from Mars would be trivial, I would think.
Trivia: In Niven’s* The Mote In God’s Eye*, one of the characters had such an app (before app was a word).
There is no central authority in many of these religions like Islam, so opinions may vary. A couple interpretations on prayer direction, a building could be similar.
Short answer: it will be discussed if it becomes an issue, but there is often leeway (if in solitary, pray towards where you think Mecca is.
IIRC in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy Muslims colonist simply founded a New Mecca on Mars and built a new Kaaba based around a fragment of the Black Stone brought from Earth. I might be confusing it with another book though.
Are there any existing rulings from religious leaders as to how this would happen?
Iirc when devout astronauts need to do something (or not do something) in a specific direction or at specific times of day, the rule is to try to do the best you can under the circumstances. After all, God isn’t asking you to do the impossible, and the rules have principles behind them and you really ought to consider what that principle is.
I’m pretty sure this is the case for Judaism (observation of the Sabbath) and Islam (praying in the direction of Mecca, and at certain times of day.
There’s no rule that mosques have to be aligned with Mecca. Prayer within the mosque should be facing Mecca, and most mosques have an indicator to show what direction that is, but there’s no reason that indicator couldn’t be hooked up to a computer to move around the room as appropriate.
Could it contain a prayer reflective material, so you pray to it and it tracks the direction to send the prayers on target?
Wouldn’t they just need to point towards Earth? It would virtually be a point in space
It could be parabolic so you could face in different direction and the prayer would still make it to Earth. Might have to be rather large – what’s the wavelength of a prayer?
This would be my bet, but it raises the question…which way is Earth? And how would you pray in the direction of “up”?
If you are on some other planet (or moon, etc.) with a spherical surface, you could pray in the cardinal direction that you would have to look to see Earth in the sky if it were visible. This should work unless Earth is at the absolute zenith or nadir, which is pretty unlikely. E.g. if Earth is in the western sky at 5 degrees north of the western compass point, then pray 5 degrees north of due west. If Earth is nearly overhead but is slightly north of the zenith, then pray north.
In what direction would Muslims at the exact antipodal point to Mecca pray? Any way they want? Are they expected to move to a different location?
Well, Mars has an East of its own, if that’s the religious necessity. And it has sunrises and sunsets also (I believe it’s “day” is 1/2 hour longer than an Earth day. If the need is to face a specific location on Earth, well, call out the astronomers to work out an app to tell you what coordinates, taking into account your location and the Martian date/time, you need to face to be looking at Earth, which at best will be a speck of light in the sky.
It’s not going to be fun when Mars and Earth are on exact opposite sides of the Sun.
Are there any SF stories that considered cases beyond the solar system? I don’t recall there being any devout Muslim characters on Star Trek or anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone wrote about a Muslim on board a starship that rotates once a minute (for artificial gravity) and is blasting around the Horsehead Nebula constantly changing direction to avoid collision with space debris.
Arthur C. Clarke wrote a short story concerning a Catholic’s experiences in space and what happened to him.
Well, there was the Jesuit in The Sparrow. Trying to learn enough about the aliens to see where they fit into God’s plan.
A Case of Conscience as well. And Hyperion, though I can’t remember much, if it was SoJ or any description of the Space Vatican.
Yeah, so similar in many ways, yet Maria Doria says she doesn’t remember reading the earlier story. Different enough details.
And in ST:TOS The Cage, the Dr refers to Adam and Eve after the Talosian Incident. Mote In God’s Eye already mentioned upthread. Might need to break off some of this to a new thread in Cafe Society
The same sort of people who made up the religious rules that apply on Earth will make up some rules to apply on Mars.
Can anyone find a copy of the booklet mentioned in Little Nemo’s article? To the extent that there’s a factual answer to what a Muslim is supposed to do on Mars regarding prayer, that seems to be the most likely place to find it.
The English press has a lot of references to the booklet and what it says regarding to the ISS, but I can’t find if it discusses more general issues (as the title suggests). Maybe a Doper familiar with Malay or Arabic will have more luck?