A London mosque has been turned into a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination center to help ease mistrust in the Muslim community about getting the jab.
The East London mosque, serving the largest Muslim community in the UK, said the aim was to reassure people who were hesitant about taking the vaccine.
“We used the devices which usually allow people to hear the call to prayer in their homes to urge people to come and get vaccinated,” Asad Jaman, who spearheaded the project, told The Guardian.
The clinic was urged after officials in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets saw significant levels of vaccine hesitancy, particularly among its large ethnic minority community.
Dilowar Hussein Khan, a director of the mosque, said: “In consultation with Islamic scholars and medical professionals, we firmly believe that vaccination is the best way to combat the pandemic and return to our normal way of life.
“In Islam, preservation of life is of the utmost importance, so we want to do our part to reassure those who are hesitant about vaccination.”
Muslims believe that health is a blessing from Allah that they should preserve and be grateful for.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) instructed Muslims to seek medical treatments: “Make use of medical treatment, for Allah has not made a disease without appointing a remedy for it.” (Abu Dawud)
Muslim GPs, imams and scholars have also been trying to get the message out to the local community to have the vaccination.
“There are quite a few factors in play,” said Jaman. “Some irresponsible people are scaring people in the community, saying the vaccines are not halal. But the biggest factor is concern about possible long-term side-effects, particularly as a lot of people in our community already have underlying health conditions.
“We are telling the people that preserving life if the utmost obligation for a Muslim, and taking the vaccine means you are not only helping yourself but you are helping the whole community.
“Faith leaders, community leaders, local businessmen, GPs – anyone who has any influence has an obligation to do everything they can to encourage people to be vaccinated.”
Omar Din, chief executive officer of AT Medics, said local GPs had experienced the “challenges of patient vaccination uptake” in the area.
“We hope this initiative will encourage more patients to come forward when invited.”
Different Muslim groups have been leading campaigns to encourage people to take the vaccine and protect lives.
Birmingham’s landmark Green Lane Masjid and Community Center issued a new statement last month to clear skepticism surrounding COVID vaccine and urge Muslims to seek medical advice.
In January 2021, the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) okayed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 for Muslims.
In December, BIMA also approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Muslim communities, confirming that there are no animal products in this vaccine.
On another level, scholars from some of the most influential Islamic seminaries in the UK have also issued fatwa saying that the new Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is halal.