ADMINISTRATION OF MUSLIM LAW ACT
(CHAPTER 3, SECTION 32)
FATWA (LEGAL) COMMITTEE, ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS COUNCIL OF SINGAPORE
The Fatwa Committee has discussed the query it received from the Health Science Authority (HSA) on the 21st meeting, dated 28th Feb 2013.
- The Muis Fatwa Committee had received a query from the Health Science Authority (HSA) on rotavirus vaccine.
- Rotavirus is a virus that can cause vomiting, dehydration, fever, and in certain cases, death. As of now, rotavirus vaccine is the best measure available in managing the virus. The information that we have received from HSA stated that trypsin enzyme from porcine (pig) pancreas is being used in one of the manufacturing stages. The use of trypsin is limited to the inoculation, propagation and harvesting of the vero cells, which host the virus.
Jurisdistic Principles on Medication and Treatment
- Islam highly advocates for its followers to seek treatment for all illnesses. This is because the preservation of life is one of the main objectives of Shari’ah (maqasid shari’ah), and by seeking treatment, one is making the effort to preserve his/her life and body. There are numerous hadiths in which the Prophet s.a.w. encouraged his ummah to seek medication. One of such hadiths is from Usamah bin Syarik. He mentioned of a Bedouin who once asked the Prophet s.a.w:
يا رسول الله ألا نتداوى ؟ قال : ( تداووا ، فإن الله لم يضع داء إلا وضع له شفاء إلا داء واحد ) قالوا : يا رسول الله وما هو ؟ قال : ( الهرم ).
O Rasulullah, should we seek treatment? And Rasulullah said, Seek treatment, for Allah will not send an illness, except that He has also sent with it a cure, save for one illness. Then they asked again: And what is that illness? The Prophet s.aw. answered: Old age.1
- Taking vaccine is a means of preventing oneself from being infected by viruses and diseases. Someone who wants to prevent him/herself from being infected by certain diseases can take vaccinations to prevent them. Early preventive measures are also highly encouraged in Islam. Nabi s.a.w. said:
Early preventive measures are also highly encouraged in Islam. Nabi s.a.w. said:
من تصبح كل يوم سبع تمرات عجوة لم يضره في ذلك اليوم سم ولا سحر.
Whoever consumes seven pieces of Ajwah dates every morning, s/he would be protected from poison and black magic on that day.2
Impure Elements (najis) in Medication.
- As a guideline, the Shari’ah has always prohibited one from seeking treatment from najis or haram sources. However, in the instance that there are no other halal alternatives, and the patient’s life depends on this treatment, then Shari’ah allows for the patient to proceed with the treatment3.
Allah s.w.t. had said in the Quran:
(وَقَدْ فَصَّلَ لَكُمْ مَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِلا مَا اضْطُرِرْتُمْ إِلَيْهِ)
He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion of necessity ( Chapter Al-An’am: 119).
Fatwa Committee’s Decision
- After inquiring more about the manufacturing process of the vaccine, the Fatwa committee was informed that the trypsin solution containing enzyme from the pig’s pancreas4 is used to transfer the vero cells to another growth medium. Based on the information retrieved from HSA, the trypsin solution is currently the safest option in ensuring the effectiveness of transferring the cells, so as not to cause them to die prematurely. After harvesting enough cells, trypsin will no longer be used in the subsequent steps. The harvest fluid will then undergo several filtration processes and will finally be sterilized to help ensure that the product will be removed of all traces of trypsin.
- The Fatwa Committee opines that the percentage of the pig-derived enzyme in the trypsin solution is very scant (0.0001%). Based on the concept of istihlak5, the Fatwa Committee thus surmises that the impure element in the overall product is very insignificant compared to the overwhelming percentage of pure elements contained in the product. Hence, trypsin solution is considered to be pure as it has undergone the processes of dilution and the addition of other pure elements. This process of dilution (of impure substance) by adding other elements in known in fiqh as Istihlak bil Mukatharah.
- In addition to that, the official information that the Fatwa Committee has received from HSA shows that the porcine enzyme found in the trypsin solution is not found in the end product of the rotavirus vaccine. In fact, the usage of the enzyme is only limited to transferring the vero cells in the early stages of the manufacturing process. After that stage, the fluid will go through multiple filtration and sterilization processes. The porcine enzyme would thus have been removed from the final product, which is the rotavirus vaccine itself. The vaccine product has undergone multiple processes of filtration, purification and sterilization, till there are no longer traces of porcine enzyme traceable in the end product.
- Based on these considerations and deliberations, the Fatwa Committee concludes that the rotavirus vaccine is halal and pure, as the impure elements have been removed from the final product.
والله أعلم ، وبالله التوفيق ، وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه وسلّم
DR MOHAMED FATRIS BAKARAM
MUFTI OF SINGAPORE
CHAIRMAN, FATWA COMMITTEE
MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA
1Hadith from Tirmidzi 2038 and Sunan Abu Dawud 3855. Please see: Al-Tirmizi, Sunan Al-Tirmizi, Beirut, Dar Ihya’ At-Turath Al-‘Arabi, juz 4, pg 383. Please also see: Abu Dawud, Sunan Abu Dawud, Damascus, Dar Al-Fikr, juz 2, pg 396
2Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari dan Muslim. Please see: Al-Bukhari, Sahih Al-Bukhari, Beirut, Dar Ibn Al-Kathir, , Juz 5, pg. 2075. Please see: Muslim, Sahih Muslim, Beirut, Dar Al-Jiil, , Juz 6, pg. 123.
3The Concept of ‘Dhorurah’ (necessity) in seeking treatment: Nabi s.a.w once allowed for some of his companions to seek treatment using elements that are impermissible on the basis of ‘dhorurah’. For example, he gave permission to Abdurrahman bin ‘Auf and Az-Zubair ibn Al-‘Awwam to use silk for treating their skin disease. (Hadith narrated by Bukhari dan Muslim). Please see: Al-Bukhari, Sahih Al-Bukhari, , Juz 3, pg. 1069. Please see: Muslim, Sahih Muslim, , Juz 6, pg. 143.
4The percentage of enzyme from porcine (pig) pancreas in the trypsin solution is only 0.0001%.
5Istihlak : The word “istihlak” comes from the Arabic root word of (هلك) which means ‘perish’. This istihlak refers to a process of perishing. In this case, the element that is being perished an impure one. There are several processes that could perish or remove impure elements. The common example given by scholars of jurisprudence (fuqaha’) is the mixing of a drop of alcohol with an abundant of water. This theoretical concept of istihlak thus involves an insignificant amount of impure element, mixed with other elements that are beneficial, clean, halal and in abundance, to the extent that the impure element loses its characteristics, like its color, smell and taste. This type of mixing would thus remove the characteristics of the impure element(s) from the end product from the Shari’ah perspective. Please refer to az-Zuhaily, Qadaya al-Mu’asirah, Damascus, Dar al-Fikr, 1428H/2007, pg. 72.