A fatwa against a vaccine?
That’s one of those things that can’t be true right?
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
- Fatwa Majelis Ulama Indonesia
- Vaccination In The Context Of Al-Maqasid Al-Shari`Ah (Objectives Of Divine Law) And Islamic Medical Jurisprudence
- Religious Leaders Approval of Use of Vaccines Containing Porcine Gelatin
- Islamic Advisory Group Supports Final Push for Polio Eradication
- The Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication (IAG)
- Vaccines and gelatine: PHE response
- Vaccines and porcine gelatine
- Vaccine Ingredients – Gelatin
- Indonesia’s Islamic council issues fatwa on measles vaccine
- Fatwa issued against measles vaccine in Muslim-majority Indonesia
- Gowa Immediately Resumes Measles and Rubella Immunizations
- Indonesian Pediatrician Association
1 thought on “Did an Islamic Council in Indonesia Issue a Fatwa Against the Measles Vaccine?”
Hi Vince, thanks for doing this.
I am wondering if this has anything to do with the recent pronouncement:
“State-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma is conducting research on the measles-rubella (MR) vaccine in an effort to produce one that will meet the halal criteria set by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).
“We are working so that the MR vaccine does not use haram or najis [unclean] materials in its production process,” Bio Farma corporate secretary Bambang Heriyanto said in a written statement on Tuesday.”