The Great Muslim Vaccine Debate
By Faisal Amjad

How do you solve a polarising problem like Covid-vaccination?

Published in: World, Health, Wealth
Date: 22 / 03 / 22

Maybe we’ve been doing this all wrong.

We have this deep split on both sides of the fence. The vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Some might even say the compliant and the conspiratorial, perhaps.

In times of dispute — harking back to the framework set out in the book Crucial Conversations, in order to get both parties back to centre and if not united, at least respectful of each other’s position, we need to create what the authors call a ‘pool of shared meaning’. This is where you remind both parties of their shared objectives, values and beliefs — so you have have clear common ground without preconceived notions, emotions or stories taking the dialogue to the extremes of ‘silence’ or ‘violence’.

Check out The Crucial Conversations Model Here

So far, pretty much all the discussions have been around the vaccine and its medical properties. You have medical professionals from both sides delving deep into the ingredients, the experimental nature of it, the need for ‘herd immunity’ etc. But perhaps we need to look deeper and think out of the box.

Sadly, truth in this day and age has become subjective. Everyone has their version of the ‘facts’ which presents their perspective, both of which may even have some merit. And as we mostly live in our own echo chambers we are very rarely willing to be open minded in considering any conflicting argument.

As Muslims, our source of ultimate, unadulterated truth is the Quran. Protected until the end of time. This is unquestionable and stands as the criterion over all other points of view. So it is always what we must turn to in times of confusion.

In the interest of creating a ‘pool of shared meaning’ about the vaccine, I would address you to the relevant verses in this case, laid out in Surah al-Baqarah, verses 275–81):

“Those who benefit from interest shall be raised like those who have been driven to madness by the touch of the Devil; this is because they say: “Trade is like interest” while God has permitted trade and forbidden interest. Hence those who have received the admonition from their Lord and desist, may keep their previous gains, their case being entrusted to God; but those who revert shall be the inhabitants of the fire and abide therein forever.” (275)

Here, Allah compares and contrasts trade (business) with riba and makes it crystal clear they are NOT the same — i.e. one is allowed and one is completely forbidden.

Eh? What has riba got to do with the vaccine?

A-ha. Good question. Let’s dive deeper, shall we?

Why does God compare and contrast these two elements in particular? For us to understand this, we need to understand the core elements of each.

First it’s important to note that riba is not just interest, as many today would believe. Riba comprises of many different elements, including avoiding contracts that have ‘gharar’ (uncertainty), containing unlawful goods/services and interest, of course. But there’s a very specific reason which differentiates trade from riba.

Any type of trade or business, has risk. That in essence is what makes it ‘trade’. Any type of trade devoid of risk is 100% riba and therefore completely haram.

This is why principally, insurance or mortgages are haram. Because no matter what, the bank will get their pound of flesh. You can’t pay — we will repossess your house. And although Islamic mortgages dress it up in different language — the fact is, this element exists within these too, which makes it riba.

No-one would argue with that, right? The fact that riba is haram and riba differs from business as it takes risk out of the equation. This is pretty basic stuff after all.

We also cannot deny that riba is one of the gravest sins that exist. Only a few verses later, it goes on to say:

“0, believers, fear Allah, and give up what is still due to you from riba (usury), if you are true believers.” (278)… “If you do not do so, then take notice of war from Allah and His Messenger…(279)

It is so serious that Allah explicitly declares war on those that partake in it.

So, here’s the link to the vaccine situation.

We now have this magical vaccine that is seemingly the saviour of mankind. Hallelujah. This wonder-jab that has also been accompanied with the mother of all marketing campaigns — so much so, that even risk-free 12–13 year olds (who we were always told cannot actually get the virus) need to be the next on the production line.

For the sake of argument, let’s even assume that all the negative rumours dogging the vaccine are completely false and it actually does have the healing properties the marketing and medical people says it does.

I know that’s a tough one to just let go but trust me.

So they got it into wide circulation and have been jabbing every Tom, Dick and Harry left right and centre. Great. But here’s their problem. The fact they restricted ALL liability from the jab is the very ESSENCE of riba. They cannot be sued for any damage. They have taken all the risk away from themselves with this lack of indemnity. So this is a ridiculously uneven transaction. Don’t think this is not a transaction.

Ironically, the very next verse of the Surah after the comparison of business and riba is:

“God deprives riba of all blessing but blesses charity; He loves not the ungrateful sinner.” (276)

God clearly makes a clear distinction of charity from riba also — but in this case, the vaccine has even been dressed up as a charity! We are supposed to be grateful for this miracle cure to the killer virus with the 0.01% fatality rate.

There you go folks. The pool of shared meaning is now full with the one thing both sides simply cannot deny — the fact that riba differs from trade, due to the absence of risk… and this entire operation top to bottom completely avoids risk by the removal of liability.

(This is only taking one part of the transaction by the way — there is probably tons of riba in the make up of the logistics, payment terms etc but let’s ignore all of that).

This renders it haram before we even debate the health benefits.

Once that aspect is covered, if you truly believe that Allah is ya Shafi (the Healer) and therefore that ALL cures come from Him and Him alone — do you think He would allow cure to come out of something which is already intrinsically haram?

I’ll leave that one for you to ponder.

What we can certainly see from this little example however, is that the Quran really does explain ALL things — if only we could learn to truly understand how to connect the dots.

Faisal Amjad

About the author

A lifelong learner, avid reader and passionate writer, I am the founder of KNOW and a serial entrepreneur.
I am a huge believer in personal development and am also the co-founder of Muslim CEO.

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