The government should ensure access of halal certified medication to Muslim patients to ease their minds
The halal pharmaceutical industry is very much in the news, especially concerning the Covid-19 vaccine.
As the government ramps up its vaccination programme to achieve herd immunity, there are questions whether the vaccines in Malaysia are halal.
In Islamic teaching, the Maqasid Shariah specifies the preservation of five essentials of human well-being: religion, life, intellect, lineage and property.
Sahibus Samahah Datuk Dr Luqman Abdullah, the Mufti of Federal Territories of Malaysia, said the categorisation of medicine in preserving human life should be clarified.
Concept of preservation of human life in Islam
In the general principle of Islam, when we talk about human life, it also has an interrelation to lineage, religion, intellect and property.
Dr Luqman emphasised the preservation of human life must be in line with religion.
“In religious teaching, the medicine must be halal and must be fit for people to continue their daily and spiritual performance.
“For pharmaceuticals and human life, the medicine’s ingredient should ensure people enjoy good health, which is encouraged in Islam,” said Dr Luqman.
‘Obligatory’ and ‘recommended’ in healthcare
According to Islamic principles, taking such medicine is permissible. However, it can be upgraded to a recommendation or obligatory, depending on the situation.
Dr Luqman explained: “In Islam’s perspective, the medications or any treatment is permissible, and in some situations, further details are needed to go for recommended or obligatory.”
The Islamic scholar said whether the medicines or treatment was permissible could be made depending on the health factors issued in the hadith.
Dr Luqman gave a few examples, elaborating on the cases where a ruling can be made on whether it’s either ‘obligatory’ or ‘recommended’.
It will be obligatory for the patient to take certain medicines to stay alive.
“In a normal situation when we have fever or headache; it’s permissible for you to take pain killers or paracetamol or other medicines to reduce the pain. We live with a lot of choices, and it is up to us.”
He added that relying on the doctors or the experts was necessary to understand that medicine is permissible or recommended depending on our health.
Shariah-compliant life-preserving medical treatment
Being shariah-compliant in medicine is very crucial for Muslims to apply in daily life. Here JAKIM plays a vital role as its role covers not only food but medicines as well.
“The progression to ensure the medicines in Malaysia’s hospital and pharmacies have to comply to the Shariah principle is ongoing as it is a necessity.
“The government must look at this issue seriously, especially when the medicines used are being questioned.
“The government should make an effort to ensure access of medications with halal certificate to Muslim patients to ease their minds,” added Luqman.
In creating trust on being shariah-compliant, government agencies should engage with various parties regarding halal in medication and present it to a fatwa committee for a decision.
Halal and tayyiban in vaccines
All vaccines are permissible and halal. As for certification, there must be demonstration of complying with the requirements set by a halal standard and certification body.
Said Dr Luqman: “As a Muslim and a medicine user myself, I do sometimes question the halal authenticity, but then again, we must assess the situation with a broader view.”
It is permissible to use for the betterment of society. The government needs to assess the situation to improve the pandemic situation despite what is said about the vaccines.
The rulings of the Covid-19 vaccination being ‘permissible’ and ‘obligatory’ were decided in a presentation given by Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the Director-General of Health.
He said it was permissible for the public to take the vaccination to lower the rate of infections.
“The frontliners such as doctors and nurses are required for their service. So, it becomes obligatory because if the hierarchy of the doctors and nurses collapses, then the entire healthcare system will be compromised.”
Current fatwa on vaccines
The fatwa on the vaccines had been resolved way back before the national immunisation programme began.
Said Dr Luqman: The fatwa committee has reviewed the vaccines presented by the Ministry of Health (MoH) which include aspects of safety, efficacy and composition of the vaccines. It is important that the vaccines are safe and effective.”
According to studies, there were no significant side effects, but they are usually minor and not severe if they do occur.
“The public may be worried about the side effects of the vaccine, which then leads them to rethink the fatwa aspect of the vaccines.
I am very comfortable with the fatwa on the vaccines.”
The government plays an essential role in convincing those who decline the vaccines on religious grounds.
Also, the declining vaccination rates may not be due to religious grounds but more to logistics reasons.
“Take Sabah and Sarawak for example. It is due to the difficulty of getting the vaccines to the vaccination sites.
“I do have people who come to me rejecting the vaccines. But I do not think that religious grounds are the reasons why anti-vaxxers exist. Usually, their voices are loud, but the groups are not that huge,” said Dr Luqman. — The Health