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Booster shot for anti-polio drive

india Updated: Sep 15, 2007 04:04 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times
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The Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), considered haram by members of the Muslim community across Uttar Pradesh, has been declared halal (permissible under Islam) by a top Saudi cleric.

Armed with the fatwa favouring vaccination, given by Yusuf al-Karzawi, the cleric of Egyptian origin, along with a recent resolution of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) regarding the need to eradicate polio, the health workers in western UP has advocated the use of vaccines in Muslim neighbourhoods.

The story in UP

The polio drive received a severe blow in UP when clerics declared polio drops ‘haram,’ saying the vaccine could contain traces of pig products

The fatwa was widely circulated in western UP mosques

The result: 79% of 88 polio cases in UP this year are among the Muslim community

Muslim parents have been resisting polio drives in western UP, making the fight against polio difficult.

Several pro-polio vaccination messages from the Muslim world have been compiled and translated to Urdu by the social work department of Jamia Millia Islamia University which campaigns for underserved children with Unicef in UP.

Karzawi, who runs the website islamonline.com, reportedly got samples tested by Muslim doctors in Egypt. The doctors reportedly found that polio drops contain “nothing forbidden in Islam.”

“The book, Sehatmand Log, Roshan Mughtabil, has become crucial for us in this fight against polio. We have succeeded in convincing them,” says Ashfaqul Qureishi, a cleric from the Ahle Hadis sect. “Field workers have told us that messages from the Muslim world have had a very positive impact,” Dr Zubair Meenai of Jamia’s department of social work told HT.

Clerics like Qureishi are also quoting a recent Saudi announcement that all children below 15 travelling to Saudi from countries reporting polio cases are immunized. Amitabh Bachchan may have failed to convince the Muslims but public service messages featuring prominent Muslims, like Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind general secretary Mahmood Madani and Islamic scholar Zakir Naik, have pulled the campaign off.