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Vaccines compliance with maqasid syariah

The Maqasid Shariah is the highest objective of the Shariah (Islamic Law). As the true and
authentic compass of the entire corpus of Islamic legal prescriptions, the Maqasid Shariah
defines the cardinal purposes of the Muslims individual, societal, national and global life

The success of humans is reflected in the well-being of society, which is nurtured and protected
by the comprehensive preservation of the five essentials in human life, namely faith and
morality (deen), life (nafs), intellect (aql), progeny (nasl) and wealth (mal).

Three of the priorities of the Maqasid Shariah are directly related to health, while the first (faith
and morality) and the fifth (wealth) are indirectly but intimately associated.

This implies that in the realm of medicine and healthcare, any health intervention programme
must lead towards a healthy and morally upright being, prevent premature and inappropriate
deaths, protect from intellectual and physical disabilities, promote safe reproduction,
proliferation of the human progeny and is cost-effective.

Allah says in Surah Al-Maidah; 5:32:

And if anyone saved one life, it would be as if he had saved mankind entirely

The principle of non-maleficence asserts an obligation not to inflict harm intentionally. The
obligation to avoid any kind of harmful actions were indicated by many verses in the Quran.
One of the verses read:

make not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction

(Al-Baqarah: 195)

Immunisation satisfies all the pre-requisites of the principle of beneficence because it benefits
the general health and welfare of children. Approximately 2.5 million deaths are prevented and
750,000 children are saved from disabilities every year by the global immunisation program.
Apart from preventing and removing the sources of harm which are the vaccine preventable
diseases, immunisation has been shown to improve the IQ and other cognitive functions
namely language and mathematics scores.

Another important moral consideration is to ensure that the individual choices one makes does
not harm others. Those who do not immunize are at increased risk of being infected. They,
therefore, might pass on the infection to others, who may then be harmed.

The omission to vaccinate has obviously impacted negatively on the well-being of the public,
which would be enough argument for policymakers to impose an obligation to act.

If sufficient numbers of people in a community are immunized, usually in excess of 80 percent,

then the protection against vaccine preventable diseases is conferred to virtually all persons in
the community. This is known as herd immunity.

This community immunity offers protection to vulnerable segments of the community who
cannot be immunized due to various reasons, eg. too young, have cancers, have HIV/AIDS, are
on chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

The common good of the community is served which extends beyond the individual. In
addition, the community benefits from the economic savings and improved security as a result
of the immunisation programs.

Usuli principle used

Al-Quran explained the main objectives of Shariah in Surah Al-Anbiya, verse 107 when it
declares And We sent thee not, but as mercy for all creatures. It brings a message that none
should stand in the way of the mercy and beneficence that Allah has intended for all human
being, thus it transcends all barriers.

Maslahah, based on the root word salaha indicate when a thing or man becomes good, right,
virtuous, honest or to show the state of possessing these virtues. Maslahah as a noun means
something considered good or useful. It could also means welfare, general good or public
benefit. It is the consideration of public interest in broader sense. Literally it means benefit or
The Muslim jurist have generally divided the benefits that Shariah aims to protect into three
types: the essential (daruriyyat), the necessities (hajiyyat) and the embellishment (tahsiniyyat).
Al-daruriyyat refers to the things that are vital and indispensable for life and existence. It
constitute the ultimate higher objectives (maqasid) of Shariah. As part of maslahah, it would
refers to the matters on which the religion and worldly affairs of the people depend on them. If
we neglect these matters, it will lead to total disruption and disorder and it could lead to evil
ending of the public. For this, the protection of life comes under the meaning of Al-daruriyyat.

Vaccination is a form of preventive medicine, and not a cure or treatment. Most modern
parents have never seen the devastating effects that diseases such as polio, measles and
whooping cough (pertussis) can have on a family or community. While these diseases have
been eradicated, it does not mean that they no longer exist. Antivaccination parents risk the
return of these diseases, causing big problems to not just the health authority but to the
community and nation. When the number of unvaccinated children increases above a certain
point, preventable and eradicated diseases pose a greater risk of returning and causing an
epidemic. By applying the concept of maslahah mursalah, the vaccine is permissible, due the
reason that it will benefited the society as a whole.

Those who refuse to vaccinate may argue that it is their personal right by exercising their
autonomy to decide. However, in Islam, public interest takes precedence over individuals
autonomy especially on matters pertaining to public health. The well-being of the nation must
be given the priority. Personal choices that risk an outbreak or an epidemic should not be