The Sunday Times January 28, 2007
Muslim urged to shun ‘unholy’ vaccines
A MUSLIM doctors’ leader has provoked an outcry by urging British Muslims not to vaccinate their children against diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella because it is “un-Islamic”.
Dr Abdul Majid Katme, head of the Islamic Medical Association, is telling Muslims that almost all vaccines contain products derived from animal and human tissue, which make them “haram”, or unlawful for Muslims to take.
Islam permits only the consumption of halal products, where the animal has had its throat cut and bled to death while God’s name is invoked.
Islam also forbids the eating of any pig meat, which Katme says is another reason why vaccines should be avoided, as some contain or have been made using pork-based gelatine.
His warning has been criticised by the Department of Health and the British Medical Association, who said Katme risked increasing infections ranging from flu and measles to polio and diphtheria in Muslim communities.
Katme, a psychiatrist who has worked in the National Health Service for 15 years, wields influence as the head of one of only two national Islamic medical organisations as well as being a member of the Muslim Council of Britain. Moderate Muslims are concerned at the potential impact because other Islamic doctors will have to confirm vaccines are derived from animal and human products.
There is already evidence of lower than average vaccination rates in Muslim areas, reducing the prospect of the “herd immunity” needed to curb infectious diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella.
Katme’s appeal reflects a global movement by some hardline Islamic leaders who are telling followers torefuse vaccines from the West.
In Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of India, Muslims have refused to be immunised against polio after being told that the vaccines contain products that the West has deliberately added to make the recipients infertile.
Katme said he was bringing the message to Britain after analysing the products used for the manufacture of the vaccines. He claimed that Muslims must allow their children to develop their own immune system naturally rather than rely on vaccines.
He argued that leading “Islamically healthy lives” would be enough to ward off illnesses and diseases.
“You see, God created us perfect and with a very strong defence system. If you breast-feed your child for two years — as the Koran says — and you eat Koranic food like olives and black seed, and you do ablution each time you pray, then you will have a strong defence system,” he said.
“Many vaccines, especially those given to children, are full of haram substances — human parts, gelatine from pork, alcohol, animal/monkey parts, all coming from the West who do not have knowledge of halal or haram. It is forbidden in Islam to have any of these haram substances in our bodies.”
Katme singled out vaccines such as MMR as ones to avoid, despite doctors saying that they are essential to keep a baby healthy. Others included those for diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis and meningitis.
Dr Shuja Shafi, a spokesman for the health and medical committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “In terms of ingredients in vaccines, there are so many things that are probably haram, but in the absence of an alternative we are allowed to take it for the sake of our health.”