The Controversies Behind Immunisation

Good manners are the foundation of Islam. One requirement, among others, is that we must always exercise tabbayyun (meticulous scrutiny) when dealing with news, arguments, or opinions to differentiate between fact and fiction.

“O you who have believe, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.” Al-Ĥujurāt: 6

Tabayyun is an essential part of good manners as it avoids unnecessary argument and debate that may wedge relationship and friendship among Muslims. The practice avoids falsehood and hearsay as sources of knowledge that cause mistrust and destroy the foundation of ukhuwwah(brotherhood) in our community.

“And We sent not before you except men to whom We revealed [Our message]. So ask the people of the message if you do not know.” An Nahl: 43

On the issue of vaccination, the experts are the vaccinologists and immunologists in the medical profession. It is incumbent upon Muslims to seek the opinions of these experts if they wish to understand vaccination.

“It is Allah who has created seven heavens and of the earth, the like of them. [His] command descends among them so you may know that Allah is over all things competent and that Allah has encompassed all things in knowledge.” At Thalaq: 12

In science, knowledge is built on well-conducted studies. The findings are submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals to allow for greater scientific scrutiny and critique, either by repeating the study or designing another study to ascertain other or similar possibilities or outcome.

“On the issue of vaccination, the experts are the vaccinologists and immunologists in the medical profession. It is incumbent upon Muslims to seek the opinions of these experts if they wish to understand vaccination.”

The tradition of scientific knowledge follows similar traditions in the Islamic methodology of knowledge where arguments and reasoning must be based on the authenticity of sources. In the sciences of the Ahadeeth, for example, we have the hierarchy of knowledge in Ahadeeth; shahih(very good), hassan (good), dhaif (weak) or maudhu (false).

This is the basis for the science of immunisation. Even when the practice is considered established on good scientific facts, it is still open to criticism and debate for doctors and the scientific community to improve the practice and avoid or minimise potential risks. This practice ensures the safety of any medical treatment or intervention given to patients.

It is true that vaccination has side effects, which are clearly explained to the public. The medical community is always looking for ways to minimise side effects. These minor side effects and risks should not be the basis to reject vaccination as the potential benefits have been monumental and historic in comparison.

Rather than becoming embroiled in controversies surrounding immunisation, Muslims should concentrate on matters that help and strengthen the ummah.

“There will be a palace in the heaven for those who shun away from needless debate even though they are entitled (because of their knowledge) to it” Narrated by Abu Daud, confirmed to be Sahih by Al- Bani

What if the person has no knowledge of a matter and shuns away from the debate surrounding it? That will be a more desirable and honourable to the community because it avoids discord and disharmony.

“And when they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say, “For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. Peace will be upon you; we seek not the ignorant.” Al Qasas 55

Indeed, shunning away from any discourse that can lead to discord and disharmony in the ummah is mandatory, even more so for those who partake in it without any sound and reliable knowledge.

“Whosoever among you who believe in Allah and His Last Day, he should only say good or stay silent” Narrated by Al Bukhari and Muslim

There is no reason therefore we should dwell on this needless debate. Instead, we must allow experts and scholars to rightfully study the subject. Their conclusion should be adequate as the basis of our knowledge and practice on vaccination.