Cryptocurrencies From Islamic Perspectives: The Case Of Bitcoin
Cryptocurrencies’ popularity has surged during the last few years. This isespecially the case of bitcoin, one among cryptocurrencies which price has soaredfrom USD1,000 in the first quarter of 2017 to USD20,000 by the end of 2017. Ithas now being used by merchants as a medium of exchange. Upon realizing itspopularity, the CME Group that owns the Chicago Mercantile Exchange launcheda futures contract on bitcoin. Yet, there are cases where bitcoin is banned bythe country. This article examines the implication of bitcoin on Islamic financeand questions its acceptance as a medium of exchange (money) based on itscompliancy with shari’ah. By analyzing its nature and characteristics, the paperconcludes that, strictly speaking, cryptocurrencies that are not backed with realassets are not shari’ah-compliant. However, the majority of shari’ah scholarsare leaning towards approving bitcoin on maslahah basis. Bitcoin is neither fiatmoney nor real money. The absence of an intrinsic value coupled with lack orzero supervision by the central bank will result in misusing bitcoin. Furthermore,we content that it has the elements of maysir and gharar. This can contributetowards socio-economic injustices, thereby jeopardizing the maqasid al-shari’ah.Hence, based on a thorough analysis, we conclude that fiat cryptocurrencies arenot shari’ah compliant. However, gold-backed cryptocurrencies are argued to bedesirable and consistent with the maqasid al shari’ah.
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