In 1985 Prince Sultan bin Salaman became the First Muslim in space
In 1985, Prince Sultan bin Salaman, the 28-year-old son of the governor of Riyadh [Saudi Arabia], was selected by NASA to serve as payload engineer on of its discovery space shuttle flights. He would be both the first Muslim and Arab to go into space.
To take part in this monumental mission the Prince Sultan had to undergo intensive training, both physically and mentally. Normally,the whole process would be conducted over the course of 6 to 18 months but due to the mission being moved up they only had 10 weeks to complete training. However, much of the rigorous training and the first few days of the flight would be during Ramadan. During the 10 weeks of training, all trainees were expected to do between 12 hours to 16 hours a day. For Prince Sultan bin Salaman this intensive training would happen during his fast.
After the training had ended and the sights were set to go into space, the Prince went to the Scholar Bin Baz for advice he asked -
“what should I do about fasting?”
“You can apply the Prophet’s rules about travelling” Bin Baz replied without hesitation. These rules made clear that the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) permitted the traveller, if he wished, to postpone his fast until his journey's end.
“I shall never forget it” says Prince Sultan today.
“The sight of the earth, so small and round and bright in the blackness. Everything was very clear and sharp. We have a saying in the Quran, ‘verily in the heaven, we have set mansions of the stars’ that summed it up for me”.
Food Fact: During their training, each astronaut would decide what they would eat-in space. For the first day the Prince Sultan fasted however for the rest of his flight he would eat the following foods: Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken, steamed sweet corn, cauliflower and cheese, tuna, shrimp, salmon, meat pasta, fruit, salad, orange and pineapple juice.