With cryptocurrency growing popular around the world, there has been plenty of talk about whether or not such means of payment are permissible in Islam.

In fact, several Muslim clerics have spoken out against digital currencies, with most of the attention targeting bitcoin.

Among other arguments, opponents highlight the fact that such currencies are decentralized rather than backed by a government with gold or silver.

Since they operate outside of the traditional control of regulators, digital currencies have been linked to money laundering as well as the sale of illegal drugs and weapons.

As a result, many clerics have found cryptocurrency to be at odds with Islamic teachings, which - among other conditions - require a currency to be "resistant to inflation and has a steady market price," according to RT.

Here five times religious scholars thought bitcoin is haram:

1. Turkey's top religious authority pronounced bitcoin as "un-Islamic"

Last November, Turkey's top religious authority – the Directorate of Religious Affairs or the Diyanet – said cryptocurrencies are at odds with Islam, citing their use by criminals as well as the lack of regulation, according to RT.

"The purchase and selling of digital currencies is not appropriate according to religion at this point due to the fact that they are open to speculation in terms of value and they can easily be used mostly in illegal deeds such as money laundering. They are also far from state auditing and supervision," the Diyanet's statement read.

Still, cryptocurrency has been gaining traction in Turkey. In fact, a Turkish Lira-Bitcoin exchange, BTCTurk, along with a Bitcoin ATM machine have been launched in the country.

2. This Saudi cleric said bitcoin paves way for "haram money"

During his program Ask Zaad in December 2017, Jeddah-based cleric Assim Al-Hakeem voiced his concerns over the use of bitcoin, saying it is prohibited under Islamic law.

Al-Hakeem raised questions regarding the anonymity surrounding the currency, its security, and the lack of consistency in its value.

"We know that bitcoins remain anonymous when you deal with it… which means that it's an open gate for money laundering, drug money and haram money," Al-Hakeem said.

"Muslims should not get involved in such dubious transactions simply to make a quick buck, to make a quick profit. This is not an Islamic concept," he added.

3. Egypt's top cleric issued a fatwa against cryptocurrencies

Earlier this year, Egypt's Grand Mufti Shawki Allam issued an official fatwa stating cryptocurrency is not considered an "acceptable interface of exchange."

Justifying the fatwa, the grand mufti compared cryptocurrencies to gambling. He said the comparison is merited "due to [digital currencies'] direct responsibility in financial ruin for individuals."

He also said the use of cryptocurrency could negatively impact Egypt's economy, explaining, "[It] impinges on the state's authority in preserving currency exchange as well as its necessary supervising measures on domestic and foreign financial activities."

4. This scholar said bitcoin's "value jumps up and down like an Australian kangaroo"

In a video shared in response to the Egyptian ruling, Sheikh Imran Hosein reiterated that cryptocurrencies are haram. However, he disagreed with the argument Egypt's Grand Mufti used. 

According to Hosein, who is of Indian descent and was born on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, digital currencies are haram because "they have no intrinsic value." 

Hosein explained that according to the Qur'an, money should have "a value that can be stored successfully over a long period of time," which is not available in cryptocurrencies.

"Their value jumps up and down like an Australian kangaroo," he said.

5. This British scholar said bitcoin interferes with God's authority to distribute wealth

In a sermon, British Muslim scholar and television presenter of Palestinian origin, Haitham Al-Haddad, urged Muslims not to deal with cryptocurrencies until they are heavily regulated.

According to the Islamic Council of Europe judge, using cryptocurrency is prohibited in Islam since it interferes with God's authority to create and distribute wealth.

Al-Haddad explained that God distributed wealth - as in resources like gold and silver - across the world and expected humans to deal with the resources they were offered.

"But when people start creating money, first of all, they are interfering in the right of Allah, and secondly, they will create injustice and imbalance because effectively, it means that anyone who wants to create money will be able to create money," he explained.

No final ruling has been reached

Source: Pixabay

There is no unanimous decision on the matter, especially since many clerics have suggested that digital currencies may be accepted in Islam if some alterations were made, such as government regulation. 

Some specialists have even deemed the use of cryptocurrency as halal. 

For instance, Matthew J Martin, who founded a Sharia-compliant investment firm in Indonesia, said bitcoin does not violate Islamic teachings.

According to The Express TribuneMartin argued that unlike "all the modern sovereign currencies," bitcoin is not based on debt but is instead reliant on "proof of work."