March 24, 2010
Amish, Muslims to be excused from Obamacare mandate?
The Senate health care bill just signed contains some exemptions to the "pay-or-play" mandate requiring purchase of Obamacare-approved health insurance or payment of a penalty fine. As Fox News has pointed out, for instance, the Amish are excused from the mandate:
So while most Americans would be required to sign up with insurance companies or government insurance plans, the church would serve as something of an informal insurance plan for the Amish.
Law experts say that kind of exemption withstands scrutiny.
"Here the statute is going to say that people who are conscientiously opposed to paying for health insurance don't have to do it where the conscientious objection arises from religion," said Mark Tushnet a Harvard law professor. "And that's perfectly constitutional."
Apparently, this exemption will apply similarly to believers in Islam, which considers health insurance - and, for that matter, any form of risk insurance - to be haraam (forbidden).
Steve Gilbert of Sweetness & Light calls our attention to the probability that Muslims will also be exempt. According to a March 23 publication on an authoritative Islamic Web site managed by Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, various fatwas (religious decrees) absolutely forbid Muslim participation in any sort of health care or other risk insurance:
Health insurance is haraam like other types of commercial insurance, because it is based on ambiguity, gambling and riba (usury). This is what is stated in fatwas by the senior scholars.
In Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa'imah (15/277) there is a quotation of a statement of the Council of Senior Scholars concerning the prohibition on insurance and why it is haraam:
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa'imah (15/251):Firstly: Commercial insurance of all types is haraam because it involves ambiguity, riba, uncertainty, gambling and consuming people's wealth unlawfully, and other shar'ireservations.
Secondly: It is not permissible for the Muslim to get involved with insurance companies by working in administration or otherwise, because working in them comes under the heading of cooperating in sin and transgression, and Allaah forbids that as He says: "but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allaah. Verily, Allaah is Severe in punishment"
[al-Maa'idah 5:2]. End quote.
And Allaah knows best.
So, it turns out that observant Muslims are not only strictly forbidden from buying any health insurance under the ObamaCare mandate, but may also not even work for any company that provides such insurance or any other form of commercial insurance.
It is not made clear whether or not it is religiously okay to accept "free" non-insured medical care such as that offered in hospital ERs and to some who are covered by Medicaid.
Whether it's all right to serve as a doctor, nurse, or orderly caring for patients whose medical services are being paid for by insurance is not covered in the present response - but one could probably obtain a religious ruling from the Sheikh, whose site welcomes the submission of questions about Islamic law and practices.
WordWayze is the nom de plume of a freelance writer and political pundit who would prefer not to become the object of any attention such has been paid to the Mohammed cartoonists of Denmark and others.