Purists in Islam cry ‘haram COVID vaccine,’ moderates say it is allowed

Amid concern over the alleged usage of pork-derived gelatin in COVID vaccines among Muslims, Jamaat-e-Islami (Hind) has said that Islam allows non-halal vaccines when human life is at stake

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Even as several Islamic outfits have raised concern over the supposed usage of pork gelatin, a ‘haram’ or forbidden ingredient in Islam, in the COVID-19 vaccines, the Jamaat-e-Islami (Hind) on Saturday (January 2) clarified that a vaccine with ‘haram’ substances can be permitted in emergency situations and in the absence of a ‘lawful substance.’

“If an impermissible substance is transformed into something completely different in terms of properties and characteristics, then it may be considered as clean and permissible. On this basis, the use of gelatin derived from the body part of a haram (unlawful) animal has been considered permissible by Islamic jurists,” Indian Express quoted Dr Razi-ul-Islam Nadwi, the secretary of the Shariah Council of the outfit, as saying.

Also read: COVID-19: DGCI approves Covishield, Covaxin for immediate use

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Nadwi said Islamic lawmakers who don’t subscribe to the above philosophy too allow the usage of a vaccine with prohibited ingredients during an emergency.

He, however, said it is too early to draw conclusions as the source of the ingredients for the COVID-19 vaccines are not known yet.

It is rumoured that gelatin in the COVID-19 vaccines are derived from pork, which is forbidden or haram in Islam.

Gelatin is made by boiling the bones, tendons, ligaments and skin of cows or pigs and is extensively used by the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Also read: The COVID era: It was the season of virus, it was the season of science

Concerned over the apparent use of pig gelatin in the vaccines, Muslim organisations in UAE, Indonesia and India including the All India Sunni Jamiat-ul-Ulema Council and Raza Academy in Mumbai said they cannot be given to Muslims as they are haram as per Islam.

Even though gelatin derived from pork is usually used as a stabilizer in vaccines to ensure their safety during storage and transport, COVID-19 vaccine-makers AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna have said that their vaccines do not use the ‘haram’ element.

The Drug Controller General of India on Sunday approved the Oxford University and AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for emergency use, a day after the government-appointed expert panel cleared the two vaccines.

India on Sunday logged in 18,000 new COVID-19 cases, clocking in a total of 1.03 crore cases of coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic.

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