Can We Use COVID-19 Vaccines Containing Unlawful Substance?

10 January, 2021
Q Can Muslims take the COVID-19 vaccines if they contain pork-derived gelatin or substances derived from human fetuses electively aborted decades ago?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

1- The usage of unlawful or impure elements in medication is not a new issue. It is something which Muslim scholars have discussed for over a thousand years. 

2-  The majority of Muslim scholars and fiqh councils have said it is permissible to use human organs and cells for medicinal purposes a) when there is a need  b) the treatment is likely to be effective  c) there is no other alternative available. 


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Answering your question about the Islamic guidelines on dealing with coronavirus, Sheikh Mustafa Umar, President of California Islamic University, states:

Consumption of pork in Islam

Islam has forbidden the consumption of pig, in all its forms. It has also forbidden the consumption of a human being, whether a fetus, a child, or an adult. 

Under normal circumstances, no Muslim is interested in eating either a pig or a human. 

However, certain medicines sometimes contain gelatin derived from pigs and substances derived from a human fetus.

Substances of COVID-19 Vaccines 

There has been much discussion about the recent COVID-19 vaccine and whether it contains these substances. 

The earliest COVID-19 vaccines produced by the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna neither use any pig or fetal substances, so there is no issue with those. 

The vaccine produced by AstraZeneca states that: “the virus is grown in a cell line that has grown in a laboratory for more than 40 years and not directly in fetal tissue. However, those cells did come from aborted fetuses in 1972. 

Although it is not allowed to abort fetuses for this puspose, the majority of Muslim scholars and fiqh councils have said it is permissible to use human organs and cells for medicinal purposes a) when there is a need  b) the treatment is likely to be effective  c) there is no other alternative available. 

Consuming pork-derived substances 

The same is the case when it comes to consuming a substance derived from a pig. 

A 17th century work on Islamic Law compiled by over five hundred Muslim scholars states: 

“It is permissible for a (severely) sick person to drink blood and urine, or consume the meat of a dead animal for the purpose of medication if an experienced Muslim medical expert stipulates that this is the only cure, and that one does not find an alternative.” (Al-Fatawa Al-Alamkiriyyah, 5:355) 

Another classical scholar, Imam Ibn Abidin [d. 1836] wrote:

“Regarding the usage of impurity in medication, it will be permissible when the medicine is known to be effective and there is no other alternative, just as there is an exception for drinking alcohol for a person dying of thirst.” (Radd Al-Muhtar ala Ad-Durr Al-Mukhtar, 1:210)

The ruing 

Therefore, this usage of unlawful or impure elements in medication is not a new issue. It is something which Muslim scholars have discussed for over a thousand years. 

The rule regarding “if there are no alternatives” varies from region to region. 

If a vaccine is available which contains no elements that are impure, unlawful, or even doubtful, then that one should always be the first choice for a Muslim. 

The world Muslim population is almost two billion strong. Muslim communities should advocate for medicine and food to be produced according to Islamic standards and only settle for exceptions when there are no good alternatives.

Almighty Allah knows best.