1- The Corona Epidemic in the last year and our sins

2020 will always be remembered for the after-affects of the pandemic Corona. The world, despite having all the technological advancements became prey to a global epidemic leaving mankind in a state of unidentified fear and the global economy at a halt.

A small virus has jolted the world forcing all of mankind to be left confined to their homes. The advancement of medical science was left helpless and enforcing people to stay socially distanced as the only solution to the daunting virus.

A small virus has jolted the world forcing all of mankind to be left confined to their homes. The advancement of medical science was left helpless and enforcing people to stay socially distanced as the only solution to the daunting virus.

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness].
[Ar-Rum:41]

Most certainly, it is our sins that become the means of Allah (SWT)’s punishment. Allah (SWT) consistently reminds us to turn to Him in repentance and rectification. We are blessed to be able to use such situations to learn from them and turn towards Him. May Allah (SWT) make us of those who turn back to Him always. Aameen.

All diseases are from Allah (SWT) and all cure is from Him. It is from the mercy of Allah (SWT) that a cure has been provided for every disease. The Prophet ﷺ said:1

ما أنْزَلَ اللَّهُ داءً إلَّا أنْزَلَ له شِفاءً

“There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment.”

Due to Allah (SWT)’s mercy, we have found the cure for the present-day virus. This  is in the form of a vaccine. This is a preventive care. This means it prevents it stops the sickness before it starts. This is in the form of new medical treatment yet the inception of this concept is old. Such preventive measures strengthen the body in such a manner that it creates a self-defense mechanism within the body such that it does not allow the disease to attack.

Most recent diseases especially those which are epidemic in nature are cured through vaccinations. Some examples include polio, the swine flu etc. Yet, vaccinations have become a point of debate for many. Many deem it a part of the infamous conspiracy theory.

Many people think that the combination of medications used to prepare it make it haram (impermissible). This is the case regarding the current Corona vaccination as it has become a point of concern for many. It is important to assess this topic in light of modern science and Sharai’ (Islamic Jurisprudence) so we can best understand its permissibility as well as its harm and benefits.

The common man needs to be aware regarding this so he can take the best of decision for himself. In the coming discussion, we will be looking at the Sharai’ stance regarding the Corona vaccine and especially its permissibility in light of proof from modern medical science.

2. Vaccine – A Medical introduction and with regards to Islamic Jurisprudence (The views of Islamic Board and various scholars)

The word ‘vaccine’ is derived from a Latin word ‘Vacca,’ It means ‘a cow.’ Its history tells us that a British scientist, Edward Jenner in 1796 was the first to create the smallpox vaccine from a cow. He observed that milkmaids who previously had caught cowpox did not catch smallpox and showed that inoculated vaccinia protected against inoculated variola virus. Hence, the name was derived from cow.2

Medical science has introduced the vaccines in different forms. The Molecular Biology Oxford Dictionary.

  Any preparation of immunogenic material suitable for the stimulation of active immunity in animals without inducing disease. Vaccines may be based on dead or attenuated microorganisms; altered toxins (toxoids); or viruses.3

This means that vaccine is a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases, before they come into contact with them. It uses your body’s natural defenses to build resistance to specific infections and makes your immune system stronger.

Vaccines recognizes the invading germ such as a virus or bacteria and produces antibodies. Antibodies produced fight the disease. Two aspects are highlighted with this explanation:

  1. Vaccines are not a medication. They are a way to activate the immune system found within a person’s body. The vaccine is therefore a safe and clever way to produce an immune response in the body, without causing illness.
  2. The vaccine may contain a virus or bacteria of the disease for which it is intended.

What is the Ruling on Vaccines?

As it has been explained above that the vaccination is a preventive measure and it is administered to a healthy body where the diseases is slightly introduced to that healthy body. Many Muslims doubt the permissibility of vaccination due to this.

As far as preventive measure of the vaccination is concerned, we do need to remember that Islamic Jurisprudence has always been an advocate of preventive measures including taking necessary actions to save from the torments of the Hereafter. Protection from Shaitan and the trials of the world calls for the morning and evening supplications. To avoid obscenity and sinful actions, we have been commanded to lower the gaze. We are commanded to leave the haram. These are all preventive measures that have been taught to us.

In fact, the Prophet ﷺ specifically taught us regarding our food and treatments. For example it is stated in a hadith:

مَنْ تَصَبَّحَ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ ‌سَبْعَ ‌تَمَرَاتٍ ‌عَجْوَةً، لَمْ يَضُرَّهُ فِي ذَلِكَ اليَوْمِ سُمٌّ وَلَا سِحْرٌ

“He who eats seven ‘Ajwa dates every morning, will not be affected by poison or magic on the day he eats them.”4

To practice this to safeguard oneself from black magic is a Sunnah. Although the discussion of preventive cure in which a poisonous substance is injected in the body and many such harmful acts will be looked into in light of Islamic scholars’ opinions, In Sha’Allah.

The History of Vaccine

It is said that the vaccinations were discovered in Europe as was mentioned earlier that Edward Jenner was the pioneer of vaccinations. Many researchers of the West have critiqued. What people do not know that the roots of vaccination dates back to the Muslim history.

As a British scientist Gareth Williams in his book, ‘Angel of Death,’ in which he talks about the battle against smallpox. A famous poet and writer, Lady Mary Montaque firstly mentioned the smallpox vaccine in the year 1717when she witnessed it in Istanbul, Turkey under the reigns of the Ottomon Empire’s royal doctors when her husband was called to Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) as British Ambassador. She got her 5- year old son, the first Englishman to undergo smallpox inoculation in 1718.5She shared this in secrecy with several of her friends.6

This proves that the concept of the modern world vaccine actually had its roots with the Muslims which later found its way into Europe. The treatment through vaccine then continued on especially for the treatment for epidemic diseases.

3. What is the Ruling on the Corona Vaccine

It has been established that the roots of vaccines are found in the history of Muslims. The ingredients found in the vaccine and its after-affects are, however, worth a discussion. This becomes a source of concern for Islamic Jurisprudence also.

It is to be noted here that the Corona vaccination comes in various variety of ingredients which are divided into the following:

  1. Whole Virus Vaccine
  2. Non-Replicating Viral Vector
  3. Protein Subunit

In all of the three types, the virus in its least strength or a small quantity of the virus is injected into the body so that the body’s immune system is activated against the disease and produces antibodies which enable the body to fight it.

Most Corona vaccines are types of the above mentioned. As the virus is found in even the minutest of quantities in each of the vaccines, an after affect is expected. There is also a possibility of the vaccines containing impermissible ingredients such as parts of swine or suchlike that is considered haram. The Chinese vaccine being administered in Pakistan is based on the above mentioned types.

RNA or MRNA Vaccine

This is also known by the name of ‘genetic messenger’. This does not contain traces of the virus, rather the human body cells are used to trigger an immune response and build immunity to Covid-19.

Some of the first vaccines were made following this methodology and were created by a company called Pfizer-BioNTec.7As this vaccine does not contain the virus, the side-effects of the virus are rare also. Since it is made in an artificial way so the addition of haram ingredients is also at a minimalistic level. In fact FDA has released a fact-sheet with the ingredients of the vaccine and apparently there is no haram ingredients seen as part of it.8

Pfizer itself has claimed that the vaccine does not contain any ingredient of any animal products. This has been mentioned on their website.Usually when an impermissible ingredient is used in a vaccine, it is mentioned clearly. For example, the use of ‘Porcine gelatine,’ is included in many vaccines. At times the pork ingredient is used in the preparation of the vaccine and is in the form of an enzyme which is derived from the pig. The possibility of both is found in the Corona vaccines. This becomes more of a possibility when companies who create the vaccines do not disclose the ingredients. In the previous years, it has been noted that many such haram ingredients have been used. The vaccine for the swine flue as well as the Rota virus vaccine are examples of this fact.

The question that arises in a believer’s mind is whether the recent Corona vaccines are permissible to use or not. Another question that arises is that to vaccinate a healthy person with even the slightest of the virus to activate the immune system as was discussed earlier, is that acceptable with regards to Shariah?

One thing that is in complete clarity is that the Prophet ﷺ has forbidden the use of haram ingredients. In a hadith we learn, the Prophet ﷺ has said: 9

لاَ تَدَاوَوْا بِحَرَامٍ

Do not use anything haram to treat sickness.

Based on this hadith, several scholars have questioned such forms of treatments which may have a chance of including impermissible ingredients and have assessed this under rules of Fiqh. Two basic principles have been derived. Few scholars have deemed it permissible based on the analysis and understanding and few scholars of Fatwa Committee have allowed its use under dire circumstances. In the coming portion of the article, we will study the standing of the Corona vaccine under the light of Islamic jurisprudence.

First Rule: Istihala (Transformation) – Physical And Chemical Transformation

The basic rule for transformation of substance in Shariah is that any haram or impure thing may change its condition of impurity and transform to halal or pure in such a manger that the initial condition of impurity is nullified completely in its nature, condition and state. In fact so much so that its name is also changed.10

This change can be done naturally. For example alcohol intrinsically changes to vinegar and hence all scholars have deemed it permissible to consume.11The proof for this is that the Prophet ﷺ has called vinegar as “a good condiment.”12

Vinegar may be produced from a variety of fruits. The sour liquid is made by the fermentation of any of numerous dilute alcoholic liquids (ethanol primarily) into a liquid containing acetic acid which becomes a non-alcoholic substance. The liquid of the fruits is transformed to vinegar. The effect of intoxication is no longer in effect with this transformation. However, if this is induced by man, then this becomes a point of disagreement by the scholars which will be further discussed in this article.

Other than alcohol, there is a difference of opinion amongst the scholars with regards to substance transformation and change. Hence, if the change is natural and not man-made, the majority of the scholars accept it. This is the view of the Ahnaf13Maliki,14many Hanbali15Iman Ibn Hazam,16Shaykh AlIslam Ibn Tahmiyah,17and Hafiz Ibn Al Qayyim18(Rahimullah laih). This is according to what the Fatwa Committee of Saudi Arabia has given a ruling on.

In conclusion, if the transformation is of ethanol to vinegar or any impurity turning to halal is man-made, the majority of the scholars do not agree it to be halal and pure. This ruling is adopted by Imam Malik,19Imam Ahmed,20Shaykh AlIslam Ibn Tahmiyah,21and Hafiz Ibn Qayyim.22 In fact, Imam Nawawi23has mentioned the opinion of the majority of the scholars  And according to this, the Fatwa Committee of Saudi Arabia including the learned scholars have given a ruling.24 his is all based on a hadith  found in Sahih Muslim where the Companions asked the Prophet ﷺ whether they were allowed to turn wine into vinegar and he did not allow this.25

The Hanafi school of thought, however, says that whether the transformation is natural or man-made (artificial), any haram is turned to halal as the process of change relieves the impurity from the haram and makes it halal. Any command of purity is understood after its transformation. So if alcohol becomes void of intoxication and is changed to vinegar, whether the process adopted has been natural or artificial, the end result as vinegar becomes halal and pure. Especially, if and when the majority is inclined towards a certain action, then the permissibility of that action is halal and allowed.26

The ruling for transformation is that in the Corona vaccine if Porcine gelatine is used and if enzymes are derived from pigs and are processed where the transformation calls for a change in the condition and nature of the original ingredient and also where the main derivative of the swine and its traces are completely wiped out, it is considered halal on the basis of the rule of transformation.

This ruling is of scholars who support the transformation of manmade transformation. Many scholars as well as Fatawa Committee have also given a similar ruling:

  1. The Committee, Majlis-e-Ifta of United Arab Emirates[efn_noet]Fatwa Committee of UAE, AlIfta (#15, Year 2020)[/efn_note]
  2. Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences Kuwait27
  3. British Islamic Medical Association28
  4. Islamic Council Of Singapore 29

However, the scholars and members of the Malaysian National Fatwa Committee have deemed such Corona vaccines as haram and impure which contain traces of swine in any form even if the process has changed the ingredient. They have given three prime reasons for their stance:

  1. The transformation of alcohol cannot be mapped and made similar to this example of alcohol. Alcohon in itself is haram and there is no external ingredient in it that makes it haram. In its natural transformation it is initially haram and then is transformed to halal. In fermentation, the alcohol is naturally transformed to a halal liquid. Whereas in a vaccine it was initially a halal source and later a haram ingredient is added onto something that was in its original form pure and halal.
  2. In the preparation of vaccine, the mixing of halal and haram  is done purposely for the transformation to take place. The Shariah has approved of that transformation which is done in a natural way and is not done artificially.
  3. The transformation and change does not take place completely in preparing a vaccine. The haram ingredients in a vaccine can easily be identified via a lab test or otherwise. This implies that the haram ingredient that was used as an enzyme or a derivative or a body part has stayed its form and has not changed in nature and condition.30

This proves that the process and transformation that Fatawa Committee had approved still has several neglected areas and calls for further research.

2. The Second Rule: Istahlak (Destruction)

Many scholars have presented the rule of ‘destruction’ instead of the rule of ‘transformation’. Destruction is a form of a transformation.

The rule of destruction implies that in very little haram ingredient so much halal content/ingredient is added so much so that the haram content is nullified and void within that mixture.31The proof for this is the hadith where the Prophet ﷺ has said:32

هُوَ الطَّهُورُ مَاؤُهُ الْحِلُّ مَيْتَتُهُ

Its water is pure and what dies in it is lawful food.

One example of this that is cited in many books of figh is that if there is impure water and several liters of pure water is added to it, the impurity will vanish, the color, smell and taste of the water will change to conform to the standard of purity.

The concept of ‘destruction’ in terms of vaccine has been presented by The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. In its analysis, it has presented the argument  of Rota virus and the component of Trypsin solution in it where the enzyme found in it is derived from a pig. According to the Committee, the quantity found is extremely small i.e about 0.0001%.

According to the Committee, because the majority of ingredients is halal in a mixture, it destroys the haram and so all of it is considered halal.33

The Committee has mapped the ruling to the recent Corona vaccine discussion. For this ruling to truly apply, it is necessary that the quantity of the haram ingredient as well as the halal ingredient be actually known. It is also important to know that due to the high concentration of the halal ingredient, was it able to dilute the effect of the haram entirely or are there remaining traces of the haram. This information is still vague and unidentified for the most part. And for this reason, to use this reasoning for the Corona vaccine will be incorrect.

3. Third Rule: As per need

Another rule of Shariah is that ‘necessity allows for alterations.’ This means that dire need gives allowance for the haram to become halal. This allowance has been mentioned in the Qur’an also where Allah (SWT) has mentioned the haram and also has allowed its use in very specific or life and death situations. It is mentioned in the Qur’an:

إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةَ وَالدَّمَ وَلَحْمَ الْخِنزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ بِهِ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ ۖ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلَا عَادٍ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah. But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful
[Al-Baqara: 173]

Similarly, in another part of the Qur’an Allah (SWT) says:

وَمَا لَكُمْ أَلَّا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَقَدْ فَصَّلَ لَكُم مَّا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِلَّا مَا اضْطُرِرْتُمْ إِلَيْهِ ۗ

And why should you not eat of that upon which the name of Allah has been mentioned while He has explained in detail to you what He has forbidden you, excepting that to which you are compelled
[Surah Al-An’am:119]

The scholars’ opinion is that since Corona disease may become a fatal for an individual and this epidemic is widespread throughout the world with the only treatment being the vaccine makes the use of the vaccine permissible. This permissibility is despite the haram ingredients and even regardless of its quantity as Allah (SWT) has allowed the use of haram in a life-threatening situation as is the allowance of the eating of pigs.

Thus, to use the vaccine to be prevented from this disease is allowed even with the use of enzymes or ingredients derived from pigs. This ruling has been accepted by the Emirates Fatwa Council, Ifta,34 This has also been the view of the Cairo Fatwa Council.35

This definitely seems like an acceptable stance on the subject.

Conclusion:

The type of Corona vaccine which is called RNA is a much better choice with regards to Sharia, even if a few scholars have raised concerns on the process. On the whole, it is a vaccine that is the least doubted in terms of permissibility. Other vaccines do have traces of haram ingredients found in them and in fact many scholars, doctors and scientists have proven its mixture. Based on this, after having understood the many types of vaccines and in analyzing the several opinions and debates of several scholars, I have come to the satisfying conclusion that the Shariah rule of transformation and destruction is quite weak. It may have several loopholes in its argument and a lot of details has not been known to us. The use of the vaccine as per dire need of the situation and circumstance makes it allowable and permissible as a person’s weak body may make him/her prone to several other fatal diseases.

Objection:

Is it permissible to inoculate with the vaccine and voluntarily expose oneself to the known side-effects?

Most definitely, Sharia has not allowed harm to oneself. In the Qur’an we learn,

وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ ۛ

And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining].
[Al-Baqara:195]

This means to put oneself into destruction is not allowed. Yet, if a small harm can save oneself from a bigger harm, then Shariah and mind has allowed this. This is the reason why scholars have allowed the use of poison for cure even though poison actually may lead to one’s death. But if a small quantity of poison can be used as a cure for a disease, its use is considered permissible.

Imam Shafi says: any medicine which includes even a small quantity of poison can be used. Similarly, Hafiz Ibn Hijr (Rahimullah alaih) has said, “ If poison is to be used in little amounts with the intention for bodily benefit and if something else is to be added in it which will dilute the effect of the poison is permissible to use.36

So we see, that many medicines are such that do have side-effects but do eliminate the main disease. Hence, the side-effects have to be tolerated and there is no harm.37

Few other concerns regarding the Corona vaccine:

There have been many rumors and discussions on Corona from the onset. People have alleged it to be a Jewish conspiracy or a threat to the world by Bill Gates. Many have claimed it to be the conclusion to the New World Order. It has been the subject of many debates and controversy.

There is no doubt that the Zionist agenda has taken the world in constriction and is spread from the entire worldly economic structure to politics, media to the intricacies of medical technology. Here it is important to remind that all power belongs to Allah (SWT) alone who is not subservient to man’s order in anyway. Whenever He decrees for a matter to take place, He has to command it with the word of ‘kun’ and it is. Nothing on the face of this earth can face Allah (SWT).

وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُمْ غَيْرُ مُعْجِزِي اللَّهِ

but know that you cannot cause failure to Allah
[At-Tawba:2]

Also let’s remember that it is a time of trial and tribulations. In today’s times, it is important to investigate a matter and find valid and authenticated proofs before anything is to be said. There are many people saying many things about the Corona vaccine but not all are based on the truth. In fact many spread rumors are based on falsehood and assumptions. We need to seek health and safety from Allah (SWT) and try to come to a conclusion under the knowledge of scholars or doctors.

ھذا ما عندی والله اعلم بالصواب

This is as per my knowledge and Allah (SWT) knows best.

  1. Sahih Bukhari, Book of Medicine, Chapter: There is no disease except its treatment. Hadith: 5678
  2. https://www.britannica.com/science/vaccine
  3. Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2 ed.), Vaccine
  4. Sahih Al-Bukhari 5445, Food and Meals, Chapter: Al-‘Ajwa
  5. Williams G (2010). Angel of Death.
  6. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Selected Letters. Ed. Isobel Grundy. Penguin Books, 1997
  7. https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/the-race-for-a-covid-19-vaccine-explained
  8. https://www.fda.gov/media/144414/download
  9. Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Medicine, Regarding the disliked remedies. Hadith: 3874. Imam Albani says this hadith as Sahih in terms of narrators; (AlTaeliqat AlRadiat Ealaa AlRuwdat AlNadia)  (3/154)
  10. Al-Mawsu’ah Al-Fiqhiyah Al-Kuwaitiyah (3/213)
  11. Majmu’ Fatawa – Ibn Taymiyyah (502/21)
  12. Sahih Muslim, The Book of Drinks, Chapter The virtue of vinegar and using it as a condiment. Hadith 2052
  13. Tabyin al-Haqa’iq Sharh Kanz al-Daqa’iq (220/6)
  14. AlZakhira talQarafi (1/188).
  15. Alinsaf fi ma’rfah (1/318)
  16. AlMuhli (6/100)
  17. Majmu’ Fatawa – Ibn Taymiyyah (522/20)
  18.  Aalam al-Muwaqieen (2/14)
  19. Kafi fi-Fiqh Ahl al-Madinah (1/443)
  20. AlMughni Alibn Qadama (172/9)
  21. Majumu AlFatawa (483/21)
  22. Ighathatu al-Lahfan (11/2)
  23. Al Majmuah (2/576)
  24. Fatawa AlJinnah AlDaima, AlMajmuah tulUlaa (22/109)
  25. Sahih Muslim, Book of Drinks, Chapter: The prohibition of making vinegar from wine. Hadith: 1983
  26. Hashia Ibn Abideen (316/1)
  27. Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences Kuwait (IOMS) (1997) . Recommendations of the 9th Fiqh-Medical Seminar. http://islamset.net/bioethics/9thfiqh.html
  28. https://britishima.org/covid19-vaccine-az/
  29. https://www.muis.gov.sg/officeofthemufti/Irsyad/Part-11-Religious-position-on-COVID-19-vaccine-English
  30. Journal of Critical Reviews ,Vol 7, Issue 7, 2020, FATWA DEBATE ON PORCINE DERIVATIVES IN VACCINE
  31. Sunan Abi Dawud, Purification (Kitab At-Taharah), Chapter Impurity of Water: Hadith: 63
  32. Sunan Abi Dawud, Purification (Kitab At-Taharah), Chapter Impurity of Water: Hadith: 83
  33. https://www.muis.gov.sg/officeofthemufti/Fatwa/English-Rotavirus-Vaccine
  34. Emirates Fatwa Council, Ifta. Number 15, year 2020
  35. https://www.dar-alifta.org/AR/Viewstatement.aspx?sec=media&ID=7406
  36. Al Aaam (88/1)
  37. Fath AlBari (248/10)
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