Less than a month away from Ramadan, some Muslim organizations in the United States have begun to address a critical question: whether Ramadan is fast approaching dusk forbids Muslims from receiving vaccine injections during daylight hours.
The executive director of the Islamic Association of North America, Basharat Saleem, said that many scholars of Islamic law had been consulted on the matter.
“The answer is no,” he said. “It does not break fast.”
The group, along with dozens of others, organized a national Muslim task force on Covid-19 last year, which sought advice from Muslim jurists. According to Saleem, it was a general agreement that receiving a Covid-19 vaccine was acceptable during Ramadan or at any other time. A shot “will not invalidate the fast because it has no nutritional value and is injected into the muscle,” the task force announced, finding that flu shots and other vaccinations have been covered in the past.
Whether the vaccination is allowed during Ramadan is not just a concern among Muslims, and perhaps not even the most important; there were also worldwide questions about the presence of banned ingredients, such as pork products, in the vaccines. Some also expressed concern about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine similar to that of some Catholic leaders, as the cells used in its development and production had a distant link with abortion.
Muslim health workers, even those who publicly request people to be vaccinated, acknowledged the ethical issues.
“These decisions are a matter of personal conscience,” said Dr. Hasan Shanawani, president of the American Muslim Health Staff and a practicing pulmonologist in Michigan, said. But preserving life is one of the highest principles in Islam, he said, and given the current scarcity of vaccines in many places, ethics were simple for him.
If a vaccine is rejected, it means that we could all be in danger, said dr. Shanawani said, who has treated hundreds of Covid-19 patients in the past year. ‘Take the vaccine that is available to you. God is the most forgiving. “When the current emergency is over, he added, someone can be more picky about which vaccine to take.
Haaris Ahmad, the president of a large and diverse mosque in the suburbs of Detroit, said he had heard all these concerns. He assured members of the mosque that scholars in a broad agreement agree that a vaccination will not break Ramadan quickly, and he also told people that if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the only option, they should take.
But he also acknowledged that people would rather not have to think about these things, especially not during the holiest month of the Muslim calendar. His mosque is therefore hosting a vaccination clinic next Monday night, which will allow people to take two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine just before Ramadan begins in mid-April. And although the event was initially advertised with general language about vaccines, Mr. Ahmad said, the latest kite contains more explicit guidance on what not presented in the clinic: “NOTE”, it reads, “Not J&J.”