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Is Bitcoin Halal Or Haram? (1)


By Shofi Ahmed:

Bitcoin is a spanking mathematical software designed as an alternative to fiat or cash currency. For a currency two most important fundamentals are it’s security and growth factor. For bitcoin it’s totally a different case. It’s ownership is secured by an algorithm called ECDSA (Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm). And the growth tends to be achieved through a devised hard cap.

Unlike the fiat currency bitcoin has a limited supply that maxes out only at 21 millions. So the demand may go up but the supply will fall. Thus an increase in the market cap raises the value of the coin.  It’s in contrast to the central banks. Like the Bank of England or the US Federal Reserve that can print endless amounts of money. On such a clear basis of a currency how do we actually visualise the question that is it halal or haram? What can, however, raise this question for clarity let’s read on.

Contemporary digital advancement is fairly new. The Islamic jurisprudence, Shariah, doesn’t cover all things digital. That’s a fact. When a thing, a matter that isn’t directly covered, is being skipped in Sharia, how can a judgment be passed on it based on Sharia. The method is to examine it in light of Sharia.

In such cases the subject matters must be weighed thoroughly and fairly. For our Muftis repetitive things that make up our daily chores is quite common. But subjects like science, technology, and fine arts aren’t common ground. So before asking a Mufti for a masala on a subject outside their usual domain we need to make sure whether he has a knack for this subject. And be able to connect the dots with Sharia.

Now, if you are thinking ‘this is not easy.’ You are not alone. This is difficult indeed. Sharia itself is a bigger and deeper space than the Atlantic. And nowadays science and literature is not less than gigantic too. Punting in both academic and the hallowed religious water is very adventurous. So to be a bit more realistic we have Madrasha and University. A kind of Deoband and Aligarh University to give ourselves a bit more space and ease to follow different paths to learn the diverse branches of knowledge. Rather than trying to reach out to all of it from one outlet.

Nonetheless, it’s perfectly possible for a Madrasha graduate Mufti to legitimise or reject a technical product in terms of Sharia. But he has to weigh it fairly. Not being fair, being biased is haram. Many of you might have read, when I shared a promo on my WhatsApp list announcing the upcoming of this article. A response was: ‘Fantastic however I am yet to hear a Mufti speak with unbiased clarity on this.’

So how do we weigh a technical commodity, bitcoin fairly? For that obviously, first we have to break the bitcoin ice. What is bitcoin, why it was created for, what’s its allure, what makes it shine? The good, the bad and the ugly if any.

See part 2.