COVID-19 Vaccine Controversy: Halal or Haram?

As the whole world is still struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the question whether the vaccines, recently produced by some companies, are permissible for use under Islamic law has triggered a lot of discussions among Muslims.

In Mumbai, Muslim scholars have said that any vaccine with pork gelatin is not permissible for Muslims under Islamic laws.  

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“There are reports of a Chinese vaccine with parts of pig’s body. As pig is Haram for Muslims, a vaccine containing its body parts cannot be allowed,” Raza Academy’s Secretary-General, Saeed Noorie, said in a statement cited by India Today.

📚 Read Also: Is COVID-19 Vaccine Permissible for Muslims to Take?

Sunni Muslim scholars are raising alarm about a Chinese vaccine which allegedly contains pork gelatin.

In a video statement, Noorie appealed to the Government of India not to order the particular Chinese vaccine with pork gelatin.

“Any vaccine ordered or made in India, the government should give a list of vaccine content to the ulemas so that they can make announcements regarding the use of the vaccine.”

Pork-derived gelatin has been widely used as a stabilizer to ensure vaccines remain safe and effective during storage and transport. Some companies have worked for years to develop pork-free vaccines.

Spokespeople for Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have maintained that pork products are not part of their COVID-19 vaccines.

But limited supply and preexisting deals worth millions of dollars with other companies means that some countries with large Muslim populations, such as Indonesia, will receive vaccines that have not yet been certified to be gelatin-free.

Allowed?

On the other hand, Egypt’s Dar El-Ifta has permitted the use of the COVID-19 vaccine which contains pork gelatin.

Dar El-Ifta said administrating the vaccine is permissible if the gelatin used is changed into another non-pork material during the manufacturing process, Al-Ahram newspaper reported.

The UAE’s highest Islamic authority, the UAE Fatwa Council, has also ruled that coronavirus vaccines are permissible for Muslims even if they contain pork gelatin, Free Press Journal reported.

Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah, the chairman of the UAE highest Islamic authority, said that if there are no alternatives, the coronavirus vaccines would not be subject to Islam’s restrictions on pork because of the higher need to “protect the human body”.

The council added that in this case, the pork gelatin is considered medicine, not food, with multiple vaccines already shown to be effective against a highly contagious virus that “poses a risk to the entire society”.

Bin Bayyah’s opinion resonates with an earlier fatwa issued by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.

The opinion, published earlier this month, quoted an earlier fatwa saying that “where there are no alternatives, products that contain prohibited ingredients can still be used for treatment because the objective is to save lives.”

“The impure substances or prohibited items used in upstream processes would have undergone multiple layers of chemical processes such as filtration that would render them undetectable or negligible in the final product. 

“In Muslim jurisprudence, these processes are similar to istihala where the original substance changes its form and nature and no longer becomes prohibited.”