Covid-19 vaccine not only permissible but also obligatory, say Muslim scholars

Published February 1, 2021
A Covid-19 vaccine is not only permissible in Islam, but also obligatory as it has the potential to stop the spread of an extremely dangerous disease, says an edict issued by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America. — Reuters/File
A Covid-19 vaccine is not only permissible in Islam, but also obligatory as it has the potential to stop the spread of an extremely dangerous disease, says an edict issued by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America. — Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: A Covid-19 vaccine is not only permissible in Islam, but also obligatory as it has the potential to stop the spread of an extremely dangerous disease, says an edict issued by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AJMA).

On Saturday, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) arranged a seminar which also concluded that there’s no religious restriction on taking the vaccine as it’s meant to arrest the spread of a deadly virus.

Scholars and physicians who participated in the seminar noted that the coronavirus disease had already killed more than 2.22 million people across the globe. More than 102 million people have been infected by this virus.

“Based on the aforementioned, and because of the nature of the danger the world faces, the postulated risks are not sufficient to make the vaccine impermissible, and the least that could be said is that it is prescribed: either permissible or recommended for individuals to take,” AJMA explained in its edict.

“As for public health authorities, it is incumbent on them to make it available for the people, for their benefit and protection,” the edict added.

AJMA, which includes Islamic scholars from various Muslim nations, noted that the only way to stop this pandemic was reaching herd immunity, which requires that around 70 percent of the people have immunity.

The edict explained that this level of immunity can be achieved through one of two ways: by allowing the infection to spread without curtailing it or by vaccinating people against the virus.

“The first way does not conform with the Sharia because it risks the lives of people, particularly the weak, which is in direct conflict” with the Islamic instruction of preserving all human lives, the scholars argued.

“The second way is through vaccination, which is congruent with the Sharia and reason,” the scholars argued. “The permissibility of taking medicine to repel an existing disease or prevent an expected one is a matter of consensus among the people of knowledge.”

The edict then goes to the next level, arguing that the Covid-19 vaccine was not only permissible, it’s obligatory. “The point of contention is whether it is obligatory or not, and various fiqh councils have addressed this matter in detail, and one of the cases where taking medicine is obligatory is when the disease may harm others,” the scholars observed. “This may apply to the case of Covid-19, which is extremely contagious.”

In a recent ruling, the Fatwa Council of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also concluded that the vaccine was halal.

In doing so, the UAE scholars also rejected the argument that some of the vaccines contain gelatin and that’s why they were Haram.

The scholar argued that the substance used in some of the shots was medicine, not a foodstuff – and “the need to save life overrides any normal religious observance, such as the prohibition of pork”.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2021

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