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Malaysia issues guidebook for Muslims in space

To help astronauts focus on the job

With its first astronaut preparing to go into orbit next week, Malaysia has come up with the world’s first concise and comprehensive guidebook for Muslims in space.

The book, titled Guidelines for Performing Islamic Rites at the International Space Station, teaches the Muslim astronaut how to cleanse himself the Islamic way, on performing ablution, determining Qibla (the location of Kaabah in Makkah, Saudi Arabia) and prayer times as well as on how to fast in space, reported Malaysia’s daily Star on Saturday.

"The reason we formulated guidelines for Muslims in space is because we wanted to ensure our astronaut could fully concentrate on his mission, without having to worry about how he should perform his religious obligations in space," Abdullah Md Zin, a minister for religious affairs, was quoted as telling the paper.

The 18-page guidebook will be translated into English, Russian, Arabic and possibly more languages for the benefit of future Muslim astronauts, he added.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, an orthopedic surgeon and university lecturer from Kuala Lumpur, will leave Earth from Kazakhstan's Baikonur launchpad for Russia's International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old Malaysian has said he will try to observe as much of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in orbit as possible. The lunar month, during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, is due to end Oct. 12 or 13.

Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman, who was the first Muslim in space, had said that although he managed to pray and fast, he was not able to face towards Makkah and could not fully kneel on the ground.