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Ramadan. How Sultan al Neyadi celebrates the holiday in space

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Ramadan began on March 22. For the followers of Islam, this is an important period, and for the next month, their daily functioning will be strictly determined by the position of the sun in the sky. What does it look like in the case of a follower of this religion staying on the International Space Station? Every day he watches 16 sunrises and sunsets of our star.

A native of the United Arab Emirates, astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi arrived at the International Space Station on March 3. His mission is to last 6 months. Ramadan, which has just begun, is celebrated in space. The holiday falls every year in the ninth month of the Muslim calendar (this year from March 22 to April 21). During it, Muslims are forbidden to eat or drink until sunset. Al Neyadi told CNN what this period in Earth orbit might look like for him.

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Fasting on the International Space Station

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As noted by the astronaut already during at a January press conference in Dubai, fasting is “not mandatory” when conditions make it impossible to comply. Sultan pointed out that as an astronaut he comes under the category of a traveler. And Islam exempts travelers from the obligation to fast. “Six months is a long time, it’s a big responsibility,” he said. – And anything that may jeopardize the success of the mission, or put other crew members in danger, exempts from observing the fast. However, during another press conference in Dubai a month later, he said that he might observe fasting in Ramadan according to Greenwich Mean Time (Universal Time – an hour earlier than in Poland – ed.). Ultimately, however, it is not known what solution Sultan Al Neyadi decided on.

How an astronaut can practice Islam in space

Sultan Al Neyadi is the first astronaut from the United Arab Emirates. As CNN reminds, so far, apart from him, there have been fewer than 10 followers of Islam in space. The first practicing Muslim to take part in a mission to the International Space Station was a Malaysian, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor. For his stay, Malaysia’s Islamic National Fatwa Council created guidelines for practicing Muslims on space missions. It so happened that the Sheikh, like the Sultan now, was also on the space station during Ramadan. According to the advice of the council, however, he could postpone the fast until his return to Earth, or observe it according to the local time of the place from which the rocket was launched. A Malaysian astronaut was also relieved of the obligation to kneel when praying, which made things much easier since there is no gravity in space.

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Yom Kippur in the sky

It is worth noting that Islam is not the only religion that can potentially impose restrictions on astronauts during missions. In the case of Judaism, the holiday that strictly regulates the lifestyle of the followers is Yom Kippur. This is one of the most important Jewish holidays, which, like Ramadan, has a penitential character. Lasts a day. It starts at sunset on the first day and ends at sunset on the next. Then there is a total ban on work and strict fasting. There is no official doctrine according to which the followers of Judaism should act during the holiday. David Golinkin, a learned rabbi and honorary president of the Schechter Institute for Judaic Studies, wrote in his 2002 paper “Space Travel Responsa” that NASA astronauts should celebrate the holiday according to local time in Houston, Texas, since that’s where he works most of the agency’s astronauts.

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