MENA Region Governments, Clerics Declare COVID-19 Vaccinations ‘Kosher’ for Ramadan

MENA Region Governments, Clerics Declare COVID-19 Vaccinations ‘Kosher’ for Ramadan

Leaders say inoculations will not break fast

Religious leaders and health officials around the Middle East and North Africa have declared that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine anytime during Ramadan, when it is customary for Muslim adults to fast from dawn to dusk, will not violate the religious obligation.

In Bahrain, the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs under the leadership of Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Khalifa ruled earlier this week that the inoculation presents no problem during the monthlong holiday, set to begin on the evening of April 13, as it entails no dietary intake.

In Jordan, where the virus is particularly widespread, Roya News reported that the General Iftaa Department for the Hashemite Kingdom, which rules on Islamic matters, verified on Wednesday that the vaccination is acceptable during Ramadan because it is administered through the recipient’s muscle.

Othman Battikh, the grand mufti of Tunisia, approved vaccines during Ramadan for the same reasons as in Jordan and Bahrain, the ANSA Italian news agency reported. Tunisia, coincidentally, was the sole country in the MENA region of the 23 nations that announced on Tuesday support for a global treaty that would facilitate better international cooperation during health emergencies post-COVID.

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh earlier in March also OK’d inoculations during Ramadan. The country is preparing for the holy month by banning buffets during hours when the fast in not in effect in cities such as Mecca and Riyadh, to try to reduce the number of new infections, with the possibility of extending the ban countrywide. The Grand Mosque of Mecca will be cleaned up to 10 times daily during Ramadan, officials announced on Sunday.

In other vaccine news, the United Arab Emirates has become the first country in the Middle East to begin the process of manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine, called Hayat-Vax. Actual production is expected to begin later in 2021 with the ability to produce 200 million doses per year. The UAE’s inoculation uses the same formula as China’s Sinopharm.

Speaking of which, Beijing gave 100,000 doses of its own vaccine to the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday. That more than doubles the 60,000 doses of other coronavirus vaccines the PA had previously received.

Over in Lebanon, teachers became eligible to receive coronavirus vaccinations, also on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in the region, other countries are also making plans to prevent the spread of the virus during Ramadan.

In Turkey, which hit a 2021 record for new COVID cases on Tuesday with 32,404 infections in one day, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said a full lockdown would be in place on the weekends throughout the holy month.

Cairo will continue its prohibition during Ramadan of large religious gatherings, as well as of open feasts, a holiday custom where the rich donate food and charity to the less well off.

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for the Middle East and North Africa as of 9:30 am Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0) on Thursday.

CountryConfirmed CasesDeathsRecoveredActive Cases
Palestinian Territories242,3532,627215,42924,297
Saudi Arabia390,0076,669378,0835,255
United Arab Emirates461,4441,497445,35514,592


Steven Ganot contributed to this report.


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