The halal controversy regarding Covid 19 vaccines
For the world, the year 2020 is the year of surviving. The humankind has been reminded by the nature that sometimes being a survivalist is not at all bad. Instead, it is life-saving.
The initial perplexed fear of the pandemic has been changed to something more concrete like fighting the pandemic and getting rid of it. Almost a year of social distancing and lockdown has taught us a lot of things. It also gave the pharma companies a well amount of time to build the proper vaccine to get rid of this silent killer. Now, as the world continues fighting with the virus, the pharma companies are ready to assist it with their newly built vaccines. But something controversial has come up regarding this vaccine, especially for us Muslims.
The Muslim countries around the world have raised a concern regarding the usage of pork gelatin in these vaccines. According to the Associated press, these gelatins are used as stabilizers in the vaccines so that they remain safe and effective during storage and transportation. Pork is haram for Muslims, therefore this is a big issue to be addressed of.
How the question emerged regarding halal vaccines?
The question was first raised by the Islamic clerics of Indonesia during a deal-signing ceremony. The Indonesian diplomats were about to sign a deal with China to get vaccines for the country while the clerics deemed if the vaccine is allowed for use under Shariah law. Pork is totally haram for Islam, so this legitimate question started a good amount of debate amongst the Islamic community. However, some companies have developed vaccines without using porcine gelatin. For example, Swiss Company Novartis has developed a Meningitis vaccine without using the alleged gelatin. Moreover, Saudi and Malaysia based company AJ Pharma is trying to build one for covid-19. So, it can be said that there is still hope.
Are the gelatin components really important in the vaccines?
This gelatin usually enhances the shelf life of a vaccine. Therefore, in the time of crisis and worldwide demand like this, it is tricky to talk about the importance. However, spokespersons of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca has said that pork products are not part of their Covid-19 vaccines. Therefore, they claimed that these vaccines are totally halal.
Where do the clerics stand?
“There’s a difference of opinion amongst Islamic scholars as to whether you take something like pork gelatin and make it undergo a rigorous chemical transformation is that still considered to be religiously impure for you to take?” said Dr Salman Waqar, who is the general secretary of British Islamic Medical Association.
Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, who is a Muslim leader of Uttar Pradesh, India, has advised his people to accept the vaccination as it will save lives. And life is the gift of Allah, we should not ruin it.
Moreover, Khaled Omran, the secretary of fatwa affairs at Egypt’s Dar Al-Iftaa, the state body responsible for issuing religious edicts said it is religiously permissible for Muslims to take vaccines that were manufactured using pork gelatins. He said that since the nature of the gelatin is altered into halal during chemical treatment it is not at all a haram component.
It is said Allah made us living beings for a purpose. The purpose is the establishment of a worldwide Ummah for him. We are nothing but Allah’s disciples. We have no right to destroy our lives. Therefore, whatever happening is Allah’s wish. We should follow his wish wholeheartedly.
(Written by Shreya T, freelance journalist)