The process of vaccination has begun in Saudi Arabia with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, receiving the first dose of the Coronavirus vaccine. Interestingly, over 5,00,000 people have already registered to take the COVID-19 vaccine in Saudi Arabia since its launch last Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said.
While Saudi Arabia has geared up to vaccinate its population, the battle with the Muslim world to ensure they get inoculated is going to be a long and arduous one. Several Muslim organisations have spoken openly about boycotting the vaccination and raising doubts about whether the vaccine would be made from ‘Halal’ ingredients.
We had earlier reported how the highest Muslim body in Indonesia is expected to issue a halal certificate for the experimental Coronavirus vaccine developed by China based Sinovac Biotech. The Indonesian Ulema Council Halal Product Guarantee Agency and Institute for the Assessment of Food, Drugs and Cosmetics had completed its study and a fatwa and halal certification is expected soon, Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy had told the media.
Recently, Sunni Muslim scholars from Raza Academy, Mumbai, and All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama issued a fatwa against the Chinese vaccine that contains pork gelatin. Saeed Noorie, Raza Academy’s Secretary-General, said in a statement that the Indian government should not order a Chinese vaccine that allegedly contains pork gelatin. He said, “For any vaccine which has been ordered or made in India, the government should show us the list of content so that we can make announcements regarding the use of the vaccine.”
Further, as India gears up for vaccination drive against Coronavirus, the debate over the alleged use of pork in the COVID-19 vaccines has intensified amongst various Muslim scholars and organisations. Maulana Noor-ur Rehman Barkati, the Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid in Kolkata, West Bengal, issued sermon against the vaccination as well.
The Imam said that though the entire world is facing the scourge of coronavirus, the Muslim community is not afraid of the virus and will not take the vaccine. “I am saying in clear words that Muslims will not use the vaccine”, said the Imam in an interview.
Aversion towards vaccines by the Muslim community due to their being ‘haram’ or containing pork products is not a new phenomenon. In 2018, the Indonesian Ulema Council, the highest clerical body in the country that issues halal certificates, declared that measles and rubella vaccines were “haram” because of the pork-derived gelatin.
However, it is interesting to note that while countries like Indonesia and clerics from various other countries, including India, rabble rouse against the Coronavirus vaccination, Saudi Arabia has already started its vaccination drive. In fact, not just the crowned prince, but as per reports by Saudi health minister, over 5,00,000 people have registered to get the vaccine from the Arab country.