Feb 26 2009

News item — Ramadan In Space


Fourteenth century Islamic astrolabe, Whipple Museum

This video item from ABC (Australia), complete with transcript, features Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the first Muslim astronaut to travel into space during Ramadan. This led to the need for Muslim scholars to carefully determine the rules that would apply to prayer in outer space, not to mention the ubiquitous question “Which way is Mecca?”

I was especially interested in the reference to Islam’s “golden age” (circa 8th-16th centuries CE) during which Muslim scientists made various vital contributions to the world in the areas of mathematics and astronomy. This, of course, includes the invention of such devices as the astrolabe, pictured above.

For more information on Dr. Shukor, Wired published an earlier story about his career as an astronaut.

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