Apparently, journeying to alien planets violates the sacred precepts of Islam. A Muslim clerical body in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has issued a fatwa – an official edict somewhat similar to a papal bull – prohibiting the faithful from travelling 140 million miles to Mars. According to a report in Khaleej Times, an English-language daily newspaper based in Dubai, the fatwa committee of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment (GAIAE) in the UAE determined that a voyage to the Red Planet poses risks to one's life and thus forbidden by Islam.

The subject arose because last April, a Dutch company called Mars One asked for volunteers to fly to the planet and even live there in a permanent colony. Mars One cautioned that since the technology does not exist yet for a return flight to Earth, volunteers would remain on Mars. Mars One plans to conduct its maiden interplanetary voyage in 2023. The applicants would have to be between the ages of 18 and 40 and also enjoy perfect health. Potential flyers would only be required $38 for the one-way trip (even the project will cost an estimated $6 billion).

The Mars One website stated: "It is Mars One's goal to establish a human settlement on Mars. Human settlement of Mars is the next giant leap for humankind. Exploring the solar system as a united humanity will bring us all closer together. Mars is the stepping stone of the human race on its voyage into the universe." The website added that The Mars One mission plan includes cargo missions and the unmanned preparation of a habitable settlement, followed by human landings. “In the coming years, a demonstration mission, communication satellites, two rovers and several cargo missions will be sent to Mars. These missions will set up the outpost where the human crew will live and work,” Mars One explained.

The offer by the Dutch firm came to the attention of the UAE committee after about 500 Saudis and other Arabs were part of the approximately 200,000 volunteers who applied for the epic flight. “Such a one-way journey [to Mars] can never be justified in Islam,” the committee said in a statement. “There is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death.” If a person chooses to make such a “hazardous trip”, the committee warned, he or she would be likely to die for no “righteous reason”, and would be liable to a “punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter.” (Suicide is also banned under Islam.) “Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse 4/29 of the Holy Quran: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful,” the committee added.

The committee further speculated that some Muslims might be contemplating going to Mars in order to escape God's judgment on earth. “This is an absolutely baseless and unacceptable belief because not even an atom falls outside the purview of Allah, the Creator of everything,” the committee thundered. “This has also been clearly underscored in verse 19 & 20/93 of the Holy Quran in which Allah says: There is no one in the heavens and earth but that he comes to the Most Merciful as a servant. [Indeed] He has enumerated them and counted them a [full] counting.”

Other Muslim scholars also condemned the Mars endeavor. “Almighty Allah said in verse 2/195 in the Holy Quran: Do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction,” said Islamic researcher Dr Shaikh Mohammed Al Ashmawy.

The Daily Mail noted that the GAIAE has issued some two million fatwas since its formation in 2008. Separately, The Daily Telegraph reported that some have questioned the feasibility of the Mars mission.

Nonetheless, last December Mars One short-listed 1,058 people to participate in trials for the project, the Daily Mail reported. “We’re extremely appreciative and impressed with the sheer number of people who submitted their applications,” said Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp. “However, the challenge with 200,000 applicants is separating those who we feel are physically and mentally adept to become human ambassadors on Mars from those who are obviously taking the mission much less seriously.”

Furthermore, even if the space ship reaches Mars, any humans would find it an extremely inhospitable place. The Mail noted that the planet features average temperature of -85F and has a very thin atmosphere is desperately that is 95 percent carbon dioxide.