BARMM religious leader issues fatwa to urge people to get vaccinated during Ramadan

Rommel Rebollido

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BARMM religious leader issues fatwa to urge people to get vaccinated during Ramadan

VACCINE. A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a 'Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine' sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020.

Dado Ruvic/Reuters

'Vaccination is a life-saving (move) and does not invalidate the fasting when taken during Ramadan,' says BARMM Islamic Grand Mufti Abuhuraira Udasan as he issues a fatwa

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – The highest-ranking Muslim religious leader recognized in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) by the regional government issued a fatwa to make more Muslims there get COVID-19 vaccinations during Ramadan.

BARMM Islamic Grand Mufti Abuhuraira Udasan issued the fatwa or Religious Guideline No. 32 on Monday, April 18, to tell Muslims in the autonomous region that they should get inoculated even while they are fasting because of Ramadan.

It would not be against Islam to get vaccinated during Ramadan, Udasan said.

Udasan issued the fatwa even as BARMM health workers ramped up the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in the region, that has yet to see 70% of its population fully inoculated.

BARMM officials aim to hit the 70% target and bring the region to herd immunity status by June.

Udasan, who serves as executive director of the BARMM’s Darul Ifta or Islamic council, said, “Vaccination is a life-saving (move) and does not invalidate the fasting when taken during Ramadan.” 

He said the COVID-19 vaccines were tested, proven to be effective, and life-saving, and so “this is allowed.”

The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began on April 3 and will end on May 2.

The fatwa also provides that the gathering of Muslims in places of worship after prayers should be used as an opportune time to get vaccinated.  

Health workers in the region noted that there was a decrease in the number of residents getting inoculated at the onset of Ramadan. 

Until Udasan’s fatwa, many residents believed that getting vaccinated during the fasting month was a religious prohibition.

Dr. Zul Qarnayen Abas, acting BARMM health minister, said they stepped up the campaign to thwart a possible surge in COVID-19 cases.

BARMM’s vaccination rate is still at a 27.5% low or 960,089 fully vaccinated people across the region, said Saida Diocolano-Ali, MOH information officer. 

The regional government has so far listed 1,006,192 partially vaccinated people throughout the BARMM.

“We cannot beat COVID-19 all by ourselves in the department. It has to be a multi-stakeholder approach with everyone employing their unique roles in influencing the public to get vaccinated,” Abas said.

Diocolano-Ali said they need to inoculate 340,000 more to achieve population immunity.

As this developed, the BARMM Ministry of Health set more dates for inoculations next month.

The special vaccination rollouts are set in the following areas and the corresponding days in May:

  • Maguindanao, May 5 to May 7 (70,321 doses)
  • Marawi City, May 5 to May 7 (70,321 doses)
  • Sulu, May 11 to May 13 (25,500 doses)
  • Basilan, May 11 to May 13, and May 16 to May 18 (35,400 doses)
  • Lamitan City, Basilan, May 11 to May 13 (70,321 doses)
  • Lanao del Sur, May 16 to May 20 (50,250 doses)
  • Tawi-Tawi, May 18 to May 20 (18,405 doses)

Rommel Rebollido is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship

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