[Editors Note: This is a reprint from UNICEF Articles with a source: https://www.unicef.org/philippines/stories/aleem-preaches-vaccination-saves-lives with slight editing]

From vaccine-hesitant to vaccine believer
Arnold Cesar Romero

UNICEF Philippines/2022/Arnold Cesar Romero
16 August 2022

MAROGONG, Lanao del Sur—Sheikh Abdullah Ebrahim Samaodin is a respected aleem (teacher/preacher) in Lanao del Sur, one of the provinces in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). He recalled how he was one of those hesitant to get himself and his family inoculated in the early days of the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out.
“Several stories about the vaccine were going around our town, both good and bad. It was difficult for me to ascertain which are real and which are fake,” he said. “Like many people in our community, I doubted the effectiveness of the vaccine and I was afraid of the adverse effect that it may bring to my body.”

But it did not take long before reason and faith took over.

UNICEF Philippines/2022/Arnold Cesar RomeroSheik Abdullah E. Samaodin, provincial chairman of Hay-ato Ulama Al-Muslimin in the Philippines (Padang Karbala Chapter), shares how he was converted from being vaccine hesitant to becoming a vaccine believer.

In December 2021, he attended a consultation meeting on COVID-19 prevention, vaccination, immunization, and hygiene in the town of Marogong where he heads the provincial chapter of Hay-ato Ulama Al-Muslimin in the Philippines, a national association of religious leaders.

The series of consultation meetings were organized by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), supported by UNICEF and partners from the Muslim religious groups such as the Bangsamoro Darul Ifta – the jurisconsult body in BARMM, Committee on Da’wah and Masajid Affairs of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and Hay-ato Ulama Al-Muslimin in the Philippines.

Through a grant from the United Kingdom Government, UNICEF worked with CBCS in strengthening the engagement and participation of Muslim religious leaders on child rights issues – including health and sanitation, immunization, and COVID-19 prevention and protection.
Sheik Samaodin recounted how he listened attentively to the medical doctors and religious leaders who painstakingly explained why the COVID-19 vaccines are effective, safe, and halal (permissible). The experience was enough to change his mind.

In the middle of the consultation meeting, he stepped out of the conference room and marched towards the municipal gymnasium where a COVID-19 vaccination was ongoing, to take his first shot.

“I had an enlightenment during the discussions,” he said. Inspired by the hadith (teaching) that says: “Allah sent down the disease and the cure, and for every disease, he made a cure,” he realized that the vaccine is better than the cure.
“It is a protection against the coronavirus disease. It can prevent severe illness and untimely death. Allah would want us to protect ourselves and our loved ones from becoming sick, and to preserve life.”
Sheikh Abdullah Ebrahim Samaodin

UNICEF Philippines/2022/Rosa May Maitem Sheik Abdullah E. Samaodin (center), with his son Mobarak Abdullah and daughter-in-law (right). At left are CBCS Project Officer Mohamad Omar and UNICEF Communications Consultant Arnold Cesar Romero. All of Sheik Samaodin’s immediate family members are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Caring for human life

The preservation of life is an important tenet in practicing the Islamic faith. The Shariáh (Islamic law) has made caring for human life one of the necessities for every believer.

Sheikh Samaodin has since shared his conversion story with those who are still undecided about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. He successfully persuaded his family members and other Muslim believers to get vaccinated to protect their families.
He speaks of vaccination in his khutbah (sermon) during prayer days. He is relentless in his crusade to make his fellow Muslims change their mind about the COVID-19 vaccine. He is hoping that the words of the Prophet and his own conversion story will inspire others to receive a vaccine, just like he did.

“If anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humanity,” he said quoting the Qur’an. “By receiving the vaccine, he is doing one of the most honorable acts of worship –protecting life,” he concluded.