Halal status: Muslim concern on Coronavirus vaccination

    23-Dec-2020   
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Muslims across the world are raising questions on the Halal status of Coronavirus vaccine. Halal is the Arabic word meaning permissible or lawful under Islam Law as defined in the Quran. Muslims are claiming that the vaccine is the Pork based product, which is forbidden in Islam. Pork-derived gelatin has been widely used as a stabilizer to ensure vaccines remain safe and effective during storage and transport.
 

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The main reason behind the Pork forbidden for Muslims is because it says in the Quran that some food is allowed, while others are explicitly declared haram, which means forbidden. Pork is one of those forbidden foods. However, there is an exception that is written in the Quran as well, where it states that you can eat it if you are starving and there is nothing else to eat but Pork.
 
Several companies across the world are making the vaccine to prevent and lower the death rate due to Coronavirus. When some countries have permitted for the emergency use of Corona Vaccine, Muslims have raised questions about its Halal status. And now, this becomes a new challenge for vaccine makers.
 
In 2018, the Indonesian Ulema Council, the Muslim clerical body that issues certifications that a product is halal, or permissible under Islamic law, decreed that the Measles and Rubella vaccines were "haram," or unlawful, because of the gelatin. Religious and community leaders began to urge parents not to allow their children to be vaccinated. As a result, the third-highest rate of Measles cases in the world had reported in Indonesia.
 
Religious opposition by Muslim fundamentalists was also a major factor in the failure of immunization programs against Polio. According to the report published in June 2009, the Islamic outfit Taliban had issued fatwas denouncing vaccination as an American organization to sterilize Muslim population. Another common superstition spread by some Muslims was that vaccination is an attempt to avert the will of Allah. The Taliban had assassinated vaccination officials in Afghanistan.
 

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However, some companies have worked for years to develop Pork-free vaccines. Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has produced a pork-free meningitis vaccine, while Saudi- and Malaysia-based AJ Pharma is currently working on one of their own.
 
Halal status of Corona vaccine is going to affect immunization of 1.8 billion Muslims, making up about 24.1% of the world population and which is the world's second-largest religious group. According to the Pew Research Center study in 2010, there were 50 Muslim-majority countries in the world. During this pandemic situation, if this population refuses vaccination, the spread of the deadly virus will not be restricted. Many experts have stated that these early vaccines may not provide complete protection against the deadly virus for a long time. If such a huge count refuses vaccination, after some period, vaccinated people may be infected by the virus again.
 

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Some experts have claimed that the Coronavirus was spread earlier rapidly because of religious congregations. The Reuters report which was published on April 15, 2020, had claimed that Christian and Muslim religious events elsewhere in the world have been triggers for the spread of the virus that has infected nearly 2 million people and killed nearly 130,000 worldwide.
 
Another report which was published on July 10, 2020, had claimed that more than 650 Coronavirus cases had been linked to nearly 40 churches and religious events across the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a New York Times database.
 
In India also, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on April 18, 2020, said that approximately 30% of the total Coronavirus cases in India are linked to the Tablighi Jamaat event held in mid-March 2020, at Nizamuddin Markaz in New Delhi.
 

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Tablighi Jamaat members at Nizamuddin Markaz 
 
Several reports from many countries have claimed that the religious groups had not followed the respective Government's guidelines provided to prevent the spread of the deadly virus earlier. The lack of knowledge and superstition rapidly increased the earlier spread.
 
If people deny vaccination in the name of their religion, the world may suffer again because almost all countries have lifted the restrictions on international travel. The Coronavirus vaccine makers are now facing the new challenge on how to convince the Muslims, the world's second-largest community.