Errant Muslims hoping to dodge divine judgement are living on another planet, clerics in the United Arab Emirates have warned.
A committee of religious scholars in the Gulf state has banned Muslims from travelling to Mars because it is against the rules of Islam.
The proclamation – known as a fatwa - was triggered by a project to establish a permanent human colony on the Red Planet by 2023. Apparently, 500 Saudis have applied for a one-way ticket from organisers Mars One.
Religious chiefs fear that some lapsed believers will seek to quit Planet Earth in order to escape judgement by Allah. But they warned this would be a mistake – due to His omnipotence.
"Not even an atom falls outside the purview of Allah, the Creator of Everything," proclaimed the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the UAE.
"This has also been clearly underscored [in] 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. He has enumerated them and counted them a [full] counting.'"
Another factor against putting Muslims on Mars in the panel's opinion was its own apparently very pessimistic view of the mission's chance of success. It thinks the trip will be a suicide mission – and suicide is strictly forbidden under Islam.
Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf, Imam of the Amena mosque, said: "Man's life is not his or her own property; it is God's creation, and therefore suicide is prohibited in all religions, and of course by law."
Professor Dr Farooq Hamada added: "Almighty Allah said in verse 2/195 in the Holy Quran: Do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction."
Mars One invited volunteers to apply for a ticket to Mars last year, at a price of less than £30. Under current plans, the first mission to Mars shall lift off in 2023, with another one every two years thereafter.