Did an Islamic Council in Indonesia Issue a Fatwa Against the Measles Vaccine?

A fatwa against a vaccine?

That’s one of those things that can’t be true right?

Did you know that there are Fatwas that support immunizations?
Did you know that there are fatwas that support immunizations?

After all, it was just a few years ago that the Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication met and stated that it “reiterates its trust in the safety and effectiveness of polio and other routine childhood vaccinations as a life-saving tool which protects children; and acknowledge that it fully conforms to Islamic rulings.”

A Fatwa Against the Measles Vaccine

Unfortunately, it’s true.

The Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI), in a Fatwa Commission Meeting on August 20, established that it is illegal (haram) to use vaccines that utilize pigs and their derivatives, including the MR (measles-rubella) vaccine.

Importantly though, they also stated that the use of the MR vaccine is permissible (mubah), because there is no alternative vaccine and measles and rubella are dangerous diseases. So it is still not a good reason to seek a religious exemption to getting vaccinated.

What’s the concern?

Some vaccines use gelatin as a stabilizer. And the gelatin in those vaccines typically comes from pigs.

This isn’t a new issue though.

In 1995, Islamic legal scholars met at a seminar convened by the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences on the topic The Judicially Prohibited and Impure Substances in Foodstuff and Drugs.

“Transformation which means the conversion of a substance into another substance, different in characteristics, changes substances that are judicially impure or are found in an impure environment, into pure substances, and changes substances that are prohibited into lawful and permissible substances.”

The seminar concluded that “The gelatin formed as a result of the transformation of the bones, skin and tendons of a judicially impure animal is pure…”

So even though Muslims can’t eat pork, they can take medicines packaged in gelatin capsules and they can get vaccines that contain gelatin.

Fortunately, although although some immunization programs ordered a temporary delay when the fatwa was first issued, MR vaccination has resumed in Indonesia. That’s good news, as measles outbreaks are still common in the region.

But why has this become an issue again?

More on the Fatwa Against the Measles Vaccine

 

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