New Delhi: The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) has become the first Muslim body in India to categorically state that Muslims are permitted to use the Coronavirus vaccines, even if they contain pork extracts, as it sought to dispel all rumours suggesting otherwise.
In an advisory issued Saturday, the JIH said, “Islam gives great importance to human life and also emphasizes on its protection.”
It added: “If an impermissible object is transformed into another thing, totally different in properties and characters, may be considered as clean and permissible. On this basis, the use of Gelatine derived from the body part of a haram animal has been considered to be permissible by Islamic jurists. Same is the opinion of some jurists about pork Gelatine.”
JIH vice-president Salim Engineer said there is no objection in using a vaccine which uses pork, if it is the only option. “If there are other options, then that’s great. But if this is the only option available, then there should be no guilty conscience in using the vaccine. This is a matter of life and death,” Engineer told ThePrint.
Even as spokespersons of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — the three top vaccine makers — have clarified that pork products are not part of the vaccines, pork-derived gelatin is known to be used as stabilisers for safe storage and transportation of the shots.
Last week, Mumbai’s Raza Academy wrote to the World Health Organization (WHO) seeking details about all the vaccines being developed and whether they contain pork extract.
“We just wanted to know which vaccines contain what elements. If there are vaccines that don’t contain pork then we will use those. This isn’t an advisory, but merely a request for transparency,” Saeed Noori, general secretary of Raza Academy, told ThePrint.
He added that “other groups in India such as the Hindu Mahasabha have also made similar requests”.
Swami Chakrapani, president of the Hindu Mahasabha, had written to President Ram Nath Kovind demanding that the government and pharmaceutical companies clarify whether Covid-19 vaccines contain cow’s blood.
‘Vaccine can be used by Muslims, ignore rumours’
IAS officer Sanjay Dixit had in December called for “Muslims (to) boycott Covid Vaccine”.
“In the name of the pious Shari’a, I appeal to all my Muslim believers to not take the Covid vaccine as it is not Halal certified. Moreover, no Maulana was associated with its development,” Dixit had said in a tweet.
In the name of the pious Shari'a, I appeal to all my Muslim believers to not take the Covid vaccine as it is not Halal certified. Moreover, no Maulana was associated with its development.#MuslimsBoycottCovidVaccine
— Sanjay Dixit ಸಂಜಯ್ ದೀಕ್ಷಿತ್ संजय दीक्षित (@Sanjay_Dixit) December 9, 2020
His tweet triggered an online debate with many including actor Sushant Singh pointing out that the Pfizer vaccine has been developed by a Muslim couple.
Hey @Sanjay_Dixit to develop the COVID-19 vaccine Pfizer teamed-up with Dr. Ugur Sahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci, the MUSLIM couple who founded BioNTech.
— सुशांत सिंह sushant singh سشانت سنگھ (@sushant_says) December 10, 2020
ThePrint spoke to leading Muslim scholars of various Islamic bodies on whether there is any basis to the claim that Muslims cannot use the vaccine if it contains pork.
Kalbe Jawad, prominent Shia cleric and member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), said the vaccine would be permissible and anyone who suggests otherwise “only hates Muslims”.
“If the most reputed clerics across the world have said the vaccine can be used by Muslims, then our opinion should be based on that and not on any ignorant, uninformed rumours,” Jawad told ThePrint, adding that “we should ignore such baseless rumours”.
“I would say anyone who tries to spread such rumours just hates Muslims, and is an enemy of the community, nothing else,” he added.
Mahmood Madani, general secretary of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (JUH), said the contents of the vaccine are not in public domain.
“No one knows what the vaccine contains. But if there is only one vaccine and it contains pork extracts, then there is no option but to use it,” Madani told ThePrint.
‘Part of hateful propaganda’
Experts also cautioned against saying anything that would “cause needless disrepute to the Muslim community”.
“Islam prioritises human life, and there is no debate on this. Islam has porhibited pork and alcohol, but only for eating and drinking, not for using as medicines or for saving lives,” said Akhtarul Wasey, professor of Islamic studies at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia.
Wasey added that it is “hateful propaganda” to suggest that Muslims can’t use the vaccine.
“Some people have grown used to seeing Muslims insulted and despondent. This is part of the same propaganda that was seen at the time of the polio vaccine drives. Muslim scholars had to later step in to clarify that there is nothing against vaccines, and the scholars should play the same role now,” Wasey added.