Canadian Imams have issued a statement saying that they do not see any valid religious reason for a Muslim to seek a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We do not see any valid reason for individuals seeking a religious exemption from vaccination. Since this is a medical issue, we believe that the exemption from vaccination should be issued by medical doctors where applicable,” the Imams stated.
The statement was issued following a special meeting convened by the Canadian Council of Imams and the Fiqh Majlis of Canada to discuss vaccination issues.
“Given this unprecedented pandemic in our lifetime, the clear fact that a fourth wave is on the rise, and at the request of many Muslim medical practitioners, healthcare providers, and concerned Muslims, the Canadian Council of Imams and the Fiqh Majlis of Canada convened a special meeting on September 14, 2021 after a series of consultations with medical advisors to discuss some pertinent points regarding vaccination issues in the light of Islamic jurisprudence and principles as well as medical facts and reality,” the statement read.
The Muslim religious leaders are recommending that Muslims get vaccinated.
“Due to the strong compulsion and compelling urgency to save lives and stop the spread of the disease, vaccines are strongly recommended.”
“From a fiqh perspective, we see that vaccination has become - in our current circumstances - an indispensable measure (daruriyah) to curb the spread of this dangerous disease and avert an imminent threat to lives. If the disease becomes controlled and there is no more pandemic, then the ruling could change to the level of precaution (level of hajah instead of darura).”
With vaccine passports or certificates becoming more common across Canada, as governments work to boost vaccination rates amid increasing COVID-19 numbers during the 4th wave, the issue of vaccination exemptions have come to the fore.
Some Canadians view the passports as an infringement on individual rights and are seeking exemptions.
In Ontario, anyone aged 12 and up must provide a written document from a physician or a nurse practitioner on official letterhead stating that there is a medical reason for the exemption.
Public health doctors have said medical exemptions are rare and are primarily limited to having a life-threatening allergy to an ingredient in the vaccine, or having had an adverse reaction to a first dose.
The Canadian Imams, in their statement, cautioned against conspiracy theories about vaccines or stigmatization of those who choose not to take the shot.
“Although it is an extremely difficult task to bring unity on this critical issue, we call the public health officials to run more awareness campaigns and debunk many conspiracy theories caused mainly by social media. The latter are leading to more social divide and misinformation.”
“By the same token, we want to make it clear that we are against any discrimination or criminalization of those who choose not to take vaccines. We believe that dividing society into the good vaccinated ones and the bad unvaccinated ones is wrong and unacceptable. Everyone wants to be safe, healthy and free but misinformation caused by social media and contradicting statements by some so-called experts are the main problem.”