Questions and Answers > Practices of Muslims > Christian relations

Did Neil Armstrong convert to Islam?

Neil Armstrong (1930 – 2012) had a career as pilot in the U.S. Navy and as astronaut in the NASA. He was the first man on the moon in 1969 [1].

1. Muslim claim about Neil Armstrong

After 1980, there has been rumor in Malaysia and Indonesia that the first American moon walker converted to Islam, but there was no evidence. Muslim reporters have published many articles about it, but there never has been any verification. An Indonesian Muslim has even written a song about the so-called conversion of Neil Armstrong to Islam in Indonesian: "Gema Suara Adzan di Bulan" ("The Resonant Sound of the Call to Prayer on the Moon") [2]. To find the truth, a reporter of a newspaper in Muslim country Malaysia asked Neil Armstrong about. Is it true, Neil Armstrong, that as soon as you stepped onto the moon, you heard the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer?”. The answer was: no [3].

2. Neil Armstrong denied he became a Muslim

Neil Armstrong told in public in Malaysia, he had not had heard any Muslim call to prayer. He also told people he had not converted to Islam: “So many people identify with the success of Apollo. The claim about my becoming a Muslim is just an extreme version of people inevitably telling me they know somebody whom I might know” [4]. To stop all miscommunication, he also referred to an official U.S. government document on his behalf in 1983: “If you receive queries on this matter, Armstrong requests that they politely but firmly inform querying party that he has not converted to Islam” [5]. In 1985, there was a report by the leading news magazine of the Muslim world. The report denied that Neil Armstrong heard the Adhan on the moon and converted to Islam [6]. The story of the conversion of Neil Armstrong to Islam is therefore a denial of the truth, an imagination and statement out of reality as admitted by a fatwa from a shaykh: “The story about Neil Armstrong, who they say was the first man to step onto the surface of the moon, becoming a Muslim is one of the stories that are passed around among people. We have researched this story and we did not find any reliable source for it.” [7].

3. Neil Armstrong was a Christian

Neil Armstrong was part of the devotion to the Christian communion ceremony on the moon of his moon walker collegue Buzz Aldrin in 1969. This devotion of a Christian sacrament is only for Christians. When Neil Armstrong visited Jerusalem in 1994, he asked an archaeologist if Jesus the Messiah walked on the Hulda Gate stairs. When the archaeologist confirmed, Neil Armstrong said: “I have to tell you, I am more excited stepping on these stones than when I was stepping on the moon” [8]. A Confession that he was a Christian, worshiping Jesus the Messiah.

4. Conclusion

When the first man on the moon really had converted to Islam, he would openly told people about his conversion. This did not happen. What happened were many denials of Neil Armstrong that he had any relation with Islam. Some Muslims are distributing fantasy stories with exciting details to attract ignorant people to Islam. Neil Armstrong was a Christian and never a Muslim. He put the footsteps of Jesus higher than his world famous step on the moon, showing his devotion to Jesus the Messiah.

Notes

1. Journey to the Moon (Apollo 11 Moon Landing Remixed), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fPJCEHumvE
2. Glenda Abramson, Religious Perspectives in Modern Muslim and Jewish Literatures. Studies in Arabic and Middle-Eastern Literatures, London, 2004
3. The Star Malaysia (Newspaper), 2005, https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2005/09/07/armstrong-recalls-moon-landing/
4. James R. Hansen, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, Simon & Schuster, 2005
5. (State Department message), Alleged conversion of Neil Armstrong to Islam, Secretary of State, Washington D.C., 1983
6. Phil Parshall, A Muslim over the moon, in: Arabia: The Islamic World Review, Issue June 1985, 1405, 5
7. Muhammad Saed Abdul-Rahman, Islam Questions and Answers, Inviting Others to Islam, Volume 19 of a Series of Islamic Books, ISBN 1861790805, 2003, 117
8. Thomas L. Friedman, From Beirut To Jerusalem, Picador, 2012