Vaccination from Islamic Perspective (Part 3)
Does the Rotavirus vaccine contain haram substances?
This issue specifically addresses concerns of Malaysian parents. The Malaysian Health Ministry (KKM) and Malaysian Department of Muslim Affairs (JAKIM) have jointly issued a statement reassuring consumers on this matter. JAKIM has observed and ensured vaccine production of Rotavirus and have agreed that the vaccine’s status in Malaysia is halal. As far as the author of original article is aware, only Rotateq vaccine has been declared non halal. To generalise and say that all vaccines are not halal is wrong.
According to Ibnu Taimiyyah,”In order to classify as najis, we must refer back to the origin. If a dirty najis has changed into something good then its as if it has originated from something halal. For example, if blood or swine carcasses fall into a saline lake, it then becomes salt which is halal, in general.”
In this regard, ulamas have 2 opinions. Firstly, impure. This is the opinion of As-Shafii, Maliki and Hanbali. Whereas As Zahiri and others, they are of the opinion that it is pure. This is a correct view, because, when something has changed name and property, haram doesn’t apply.
The issue of istihalah, whereby a haram substance undergoes the process of chemical alteration to change its form, name and purity, according to the opinion of Ibnu Taymiyyah, Ibnu Qayyim, Maliki, Al Arabi, Hanafi, all changes of najis/haram substances to different physical/chemical forms through a synthetic process is acceptable and mubah. This is because a change has occurred and altered it from its original state.This is applied in western countries in various ways, such as with the use of “preservatives” as fatwaed by European Council for Fatwa and Research.
In dealing with differences of opinion, when it is mubah for some ulama and haram for others, the source of fiqh references must primarily depend upon al Quran, sunnah, ijmak, qiyas (inference), or maslahah, uruf(custom), al istihsan (equity of Islamic law), al istishab (presumption of continuity), dharurat and al istibrak. Differences in fiqh don’t imply that we follow who is right but it enables us to practice Islam with ease and relevance throughout time, with no space or time limitations. We should not view this solely as a matter of fiqh but as opinion of a majority of scholars which is more solid and sound and with the guidance of Allah (swt).
In this instance, animal enzymes are used as catalysts and have undergone an ultra filtration process, then there is a dilution and the vaccine is not mixed with the end product. The vaccine produced has gone through a filtration and purification process that makes its use mubah.
Does the vaccine have side effects or adverse effects?
No doubt, the vaccine has side effects such as allergic reactions or neurological effects but should these occur, they have to be reported to a relevant authority. Should the vaccine have a statistically significant high risk of morbidity or mortality, then it would be banned. The concept of qada & qadr (divine will & predestination) should be instilled within the Muslim community and specifically, the belief that we need to put an effort towards preventing disease and that Allah (swt) determines its success. Doctors have strict criteria concerning whom to withhold vaccines from. Patients must place the concept of tawakkal to Allah (swt) in all daily affairs.We must weigh the pros and cons of vaccinations. If the benefit outweighs the risk, then this is a sincere effort to ensure our children’s well being. Any effects (via the vaccine such as allergies or non effectiveness of the vaccine) is from Allah (swt) and we need to wholly depend upon Allah (swt). We can only do our best, Allah (swt) determines everything.
Islam is an easy and practical religion. To say something that is mubah is haram is to liken potable water to wine. When we are faced with differences in law, we must look at maqasid syariah, practical guidance from Islamic academics and medical professionals. As parents, we have the right to choose. We should refer to the pediatrician treating our child, not Dr Google. We must also respect differences in fiqh and not cause a division of community to arise from these differences.
Translated from original article written by Dr Fahisham Taib, Consultant Paediatrician, University Science Malaysia Hospital