Indonesia discussing COVID vaccine’s permissibility in Islam

The Indonesian Ulema Council has to determine whether the vaccine is halal or not because a pig-based gelatin is used as a stabiliser in some vaccines. President Joko Widodo will be the first to receive a dose to boost public trust in vaccines.


Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) plans to issue a ruling on whether the government’s Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine is permissible (halal) in Islam or not before the country begins a mass vaccination campaign next week.

The world’s largest Muslim-majority country is set to launch the campaign on 13 January after obtaining three million doses of the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac.

President Joko Widodo will be the first to receive a dose to boost public trust in the vaccines.

Doubts about its permissibility come from the fact that a pig-based gelatin is used as a stabiliser in some vaccines. For Muslims, who make up about 90 percent of the Indonesian population, consuming pork is strictly prohibited,

The controversy over the vaccines’ adherence to Islamic principles has hindered public health initiatives in the past, including in 2018, when the MUI issued a religious decree declaring that a measles vaccine was banned under Islam.

“Our goal is for the fatwa, the religious decree, to come out before the first injections begin,” said Muti Arintawati, a MUI official tasked with analysing food and drugs to assess whether they are halal or not.

Indonesia is struggling with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in Southeast Asia and local authorities hope the vaccine will help lessen the health and economic crises that are ravaging the country.

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