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Islamic clerics keep provoking controversies in the Arab world. It seems that the sun still orbits Earth in Saudi Arabia and colonising Mars is un-Islamic in the United Arab Emirates
Far from critical thinking and scientific explanation, Islamic clerics continue making controversial statements about a space-related topic. In 2014, Muslim clerics in the UAE declared a colony on Mars as un-Islamic and issued a fatwa against anyone living on Mars as there is “no righteous reason” to be there. They argue that trying to live there would be close to committing suicide and killing oneself is strictly forbidden in Islam.
While this incident is quite new, other rulings against scientific discoveries were astonishing over the past decades.
In 1966, Abdulaziz Bin Baz ruled that Earth is stationary and the sun orbits Earth. He repeated his fatwa in 1976 followed by several times at public appearances in the 90s. He concluded that those who say otherwise should be killed and their belongings should be confiscated because such a claim is apostate.
According to Bin Baz, evidence should be drawn from the original texts, the Quran and the tradition of the prophet Mohammad. Therefore, his basis for such a fatwa was the Quran, which, according to him, implies that the sun rotates around Earth.
Starting from that point, any new science that doesn’t come in accordance with the old Islamic assumptions must be false. The problem now lies in the literal interpretation of original texts, the Quran and the tradition of Mohammad. Original texts, if interpreted literally, offer content, which is paradoxical to what science and logic. It is not a unique feature of Islam, but rather of all religions.
Some of the verses Bin Baz relied on are: “(Allah is) the one who created the night, the day, the sun and the moon. Each one is travelling in an orbit with its own motion” From this verse among others, Bin Baz confirmed that the sun moves and rotates around Earth and not vice versa.
He also used the Hadith (sayings) of the prophet Mohammad when he (the prophet Mohammad) asked his companions if they knew where the sun goes. When they said that they don’t know but they would like to know, the prophet told them that it goes to kneel to the creator until it is allowed to rise again, which is from the east. This cycle continues until the doomsday, where Allah says to the sun that it has to go back from where it came from – i.e. to rise from the west.
This seemed to be a solid proof for Bin Baz and other many other Islamic scholars that the sun moves around Earth and not the opposite.
There are also other verses in Quran, which make it clear, if interpreted literally, that Earth is steady and fixed and on which Bin Baz relied. “[It is He] who has made for you the Earth as a bed [spread out].”
“And He has cast into the Earth firmly set mountains, lest it shift with you, and [made] rivers and roads, that you may be guided.”
From these Quran verses, Bin Baz concluded that Earth is stationary. Most prominent Islamic clerics such as Abdullah Bin Abdurahman Aljibreen, Saleh Al-Fozan and Abu Bakr Al-Jazairi confirmed the same ruling relying on the same sources for legislation.
Sheikh Muhammad Bin Uthaymeen, a prominent Sunni Islamic scholar from Saudi Arabia also confirmed what Bin Baz ruled out and concluded that the sun rotates around Earth and not vice versa and that explains “the existence of the day and night”.
The mainstream of Islamic clerics in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world acknowledge scientific facts and think that science does not have to be in contradiction with the Islamic religion. Only a few influential Islamic clerics claim otherwise.