The Jakarta Post
Vice President and senior Muslim cleric Ma’ruf Amin has said the COVID-19 vaccine currently being prepared by the government does not have to be halal, a spokesperson said on Friday.
Vice presidential spokesperson Masduki Baidowi said Maruf’s statement came during a meeting with Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan about the progress of the vaccine currently being developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac in partnership with state-owned pharmaceutical firm PT Bio Farma.
“The vice president explained an important thing: If the vaccine is halal then that’s good, there’s no problem, but if it is not halal it’s also not a problem,” Masduki said in a statement on Friday. “Because it’s an emergency situation it’s okay to use [a non-halal vaccine].”
This statement seems to contradict a previous statement made by Masduki in August, in which he said the vice president had urged Bio Farma to ensure that the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine would have halal certification before it was distributed.
Masduki said Ma’ruf, who is also currently the non-active chairman of the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI), would ask an MUI team to go to Beijing to verify whether or not the vaccine was halal.
“But that will not be an obstacle. Why? I reiterate once again that a non-halal [vaccine] in an emergency situation is permitted,” he said.
The halal status of vaccines had previously become an issue in 2018, during a government measles and rubella vaccination campaign.
At the time, the MUI issued a fatwa declaring that the measles-rubella (MR) vaccine was mubah (permitted for use by Muslims) despite containing materials derived from pigs, because a halal vaccine had yet to be made, constituting a "sharia emergency."
However, despite the fatwa, the Riau Islands chapter of the MUI still urged Muslims to reject the vaccine.
"If the MR vaccine is really so important then we call on the government to quickly make one that is halal and safe for Muslims," Riau Islands MUI secretary Ustadz Santoso said at the time. (kmt)