Muslim leaders warn - 'get the vaccine or risk losing Ramadan next year'

Date published: 19 April 2021

Muslims who miss vaccination appointments risk ignoring the knowledge of senior clerics and spending Ramadan 2022 away from their families.

That is the view of Muzahid Khan, one of the regional consultants at the Strengthening Faith Institutions programme, who believes that the Holy Month should be a reason to get inoculated.

Mr Khan remains alarmed at figures showing that people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage have the second lowest uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, even though local pop-up vaccination centres have been a huge success in places with high concentration of these communities.

This is due to what he says is a lack of engagement with the health service generally and the propagation of fake news by conspiracy theorists which are passed from children to their parents.

Mr Khan said: “Sadly, these messages are targeted at younger people who because they are more fluent in English, may pass these off as truth when talking to their parents.

"Healthcare professionals, including Muslim medics, say that they are safe.

"Our teachers also tell us that our moral duty during Ramadan is to protect each other.

"What more persuasion do people need?”

For a second successive year, many Muslims will miss members of their family at the Iftar fast-breaking sundown meal.

Oldham GP Dr Anita Sharma, who treats many people from the Muslim community at her South Chadderton Health Centre, believes that tables will be empty again in 2022 unless people get vaccinated.

She said: “People of all faiths and none have questioned the make-up of the vaccines and everyone from Vegans to Muslims has been concerned due to myths about the use of gelatine.

"There are no animal products or anything that can be deemed as “sustenance” in the jab.”

Mr Khan praised the NHS for its efforts to reach out to communities and ensure they are given sound information, adding: “This is the first pandemic where social media and internet conspiracy has been an unhelpful symptom.

"There is still a disconnect between all national services and ethnic minority communities, including the Mrs Begum myth that a minority of doctors don’t take the health fears of Bangladeshi-British women seriously.

"But things are changing, and it is up to us to reach out and play a part in the health of our country.”

Imam Qari Asim, Chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB), said: “The Covid vaccines are religiously permissible; they’re halal.

"The Covid vaccine can be taken during Ramadan without fear of fast being broken.

"The vast majority of Muslim scholars are of the view that taking the vaccine during Ramadan will not invalidate your fast.

"If you are eligible for the vaccine and have received your invite, you need to ask yourself: do you take the vaccine which has proven to be effective and have mild side effects or do you risk catching Covid, which can make you quite ill, meaning you may potentially miss the whole of Ramadan and possibly end up in hospital.

"You also risk passing it onto other members of the family who maybe more vulnerable, which is why I urge you to take the vaccine when invited during Ramadan.

“Getting as many people vaccinated against COVID-19 is our best hope for returning to normal life.

"Please have your vaccine when you are invited and help stop the virus.”

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