Coronavirus Singapore

Muis urges Muslims to get vaccine once available here

Jab permissible as vaccine is a basic necessity to protect lives, it says

Muis said a Covid-19 vaccine is permissible for use by Muslims as it is a basic necessity to protect lives in the context of a global pandemic.
Muis said a Covid-19 vaccine is permissible for use by Muslims as it is a basic necessity to protect lives in the context of a global pandemic.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) has urged Muslims to get vaccinated once a Covid-19 vaccine is available, and medically authorised as safe and effective.

In an irsyad-or religious guidance - issued yesterday, Muis said a Covid-19 vaccine is permissible for use by Muslims as it is a basic necessity to protect lives in the context of a global pandemic.

"The objectives of introducing a Covid-19 vaccine and the processes involved in producing vaccines in general are largely aligned to established Islamic principles and values," it added, noting that Islam places great importance on the sanctity and safety of human life as well as the protection of livelihoods.

Muis pointed to a fatwa, or Islamic ruling, it issued in 2013 on the rotavirus vaccine. The ruling considered vaccines to be a form of preventive treatment from diseases and encouraged in Islam.

"This is drawn from the prophetic guidance that one should consume foods that offer some protection from illnesses," it added.

Muis' religious guidance comes on the back of concerns among Muslims in the neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Indonesia over the halal status of a Covid-19 vaccine.

The religious view of a Covid-19 vaccine must take a more holistic stance that "transcends the narrow view of halalness or permissibility of its ingredients", Muis said, setting out three areas that it said have been carefully considered.

First, vaccines are a critical necessity in saving lives and ensuring societies can function safely and cohesively.

A second important consideration is that any vaccine must not have any known adverse medical effects that will cause harm to those who take it.

On the permissibility of ingredients used in vaccines, Muis cited a 2015 ruling on the drug heparin, a blood thinner which contains pig enzymes, as an example of a situation - evident in some prophetic traditions - that permits the use of impure or prohibited substances for treatment.

"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," Muis said.

"In such situations, the final product (drug or vaccine) is deemed permissible for Muslim use."

In a Facebook post yesterday, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli welcomed Muis' religious guidance and strongly encouraged Muslims to get vaccinated once the vaccines are available in Singapore.

"I am thankful to our religious leaders who are highly knowledgeable, progressive, enlightened, and attuned to the concerns of our Malay/Muslim community in the context of the global pandemic," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2020, with the headline 'Muis urges Muslims to get vaccine once available here'. Print Edition | Subscribe