Deciphering Digital Currency: Is Crypto Haram in Islamic Finance?


In the age of digitalization, the advent of cryptocurrencies has disrupted the traditional financial landscape, sparking a myriad of discussions and debates. Among the many conversations unfolding, one unique discourse is the intersection of cryptocurrencies and Islamic finance. A crucial question that arises in this context is, “is crypto haram?” How does the world of digital currencies fit into the realm of Islamic financial principles?

A deeper look reveals that the emergence of cryptocurrencies presents both challenges and opportunities for Islamic finance. As we traverse the digital terrain, we unravel new facets and complexities that prompt us to reevaluate our understanding of money from an Islamic perspective, including the question of whether or not is crypto haram.

Key Takeaways

  • Dr. Humayon has proposed a machine learning model to assist Muslims in determining the Sharia compliance of cryptocurrencies, emphasizing adherence to Islamic finance principles.

  • Debate on crypto’s haram status is divided, with some arguing it can be halal and others classifying it as haram. Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz has proposed a compromise allowing its use under certain conditions that comply with Islamic rules.

  • Navigating the Crypto Landscape as Muslim Investor requires selecting halal cryptocurrencies, ethical investing practices and risk management while staying updated with regulatory developments in Muslim countries.

Islamic Finance and Cryptocurrency

Understanding the dynamic nature of digital currencies can be challenging, especially for those practicing Islamic finance. These virtual assets should be aligned with Islamic finance principles, deeply rooted in Sharia law. The permissibility (halal) or prohibition (haram) of cryptocurrencies under Islamic law is a widely debated topic among scholars and the Muslim community.

Dr. Humayon, a computer science researcher from the Arab region, has suggested a machine learning model to assist Muslims in determining the Sharia compliance of cryptocurrencies. This model, based on the input of Islamic scholars and Islamic jurisprudence, aims to help users contemplate the operations of the broker and currency provider to guarantee that they only carry out halal activities. This highlights the importance of aligning crypto investments with Islamic finance principles.

The Importance of Sharia Compliance

Sharia compliance in finance is akin to a compass guiding Muslim investors in the vast ocean of financial transactions. It involves ensuring that financial instruments align with the tenets of Shariah, which can have a profound effect on firm performance and liquidity. This is especially significant for digital assets, where the quick-paced changes necessitate a deep understanding of Islamic perspectives on compliance.

Adherence to Sharia is pivotal for Muslim investors. Non-compliance can lead to a ripple effect of adverse impacts, from a decrease in demand for non-compliant investment products to an increased risk of Sharia non-compliance. Hence, the halal status of cryptocurrencies primarily depends on their adherence to fundamental Islamic finance principles, such as the prohibition of interest (riba), speculative trade (gharar), gambling (qimar), and investments in morally dubious businesses.

Differing Opinions on Crypto’s Haram Status

Islamic scholars discussing the halal or haram status of cryptocurrencies

Just as a coin has two sides, so too does the debate on the permissibility of cryptocurrencies in Islamic finance. Some Islamic scholars argue that cryptocurrencies can be halal if they serve as a medium of exchange, store of value, and comply with Islamic prohibitions. Conversely, some scholars classify cryptocurrencies as haram, citing concerns about speculation, uncertainty, and potential for unlawful activities.

An intriguing perspective comes from Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz, who permits the use of cryptocurrency under certain conditions. He emphasizes the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies, which are not regulated by a central bank. Decentralization and the adoption of blockchain technology and smart contracts are consistent with certain Islamic finance rules. These tools can ensure security, transparency and trustworthiness during a transaction.

Scholars Against Crypto

Decentralized nature and potential for fraud in cryptocurrencies

While some scholars embrace the wave of digital currencies, others remain skeptical. They argue that the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies, lack of physical value, and potential for fraud make them crypto haram. This view is echoed by the Directorate of Religious Affairs in Turkey, which holds that cryptocurrencies are not suitable in accordance with Shariah due to their speculative nature and potential use for illegal activities.

In the same vein, Sheikh Shawki Allam considers trading in cryptocurrency as haram because it lacks endorsement by legitimate bodies as a suitable medium of exchange and its frequent use for illegal transactions, including money laundering. These concerns, while valid, are not universally shared among Islamic scholars, underscoring the complexity and multifaceted nature of the discussion.

Scholars Supporting Crypto

Supporting scholars advocating for halal cryptocurrencies

On the flip side, some scholars argue that cryptocurrencies can be halal if used for legitimate purposes. They posit that digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum may possess inherent value and serve a practical purpose, which aligns them with Islamic principles. For example, Abdullah bin Bayyah, a prominent Islamic scholar, argues that if a significant number of people value Bitcoin, it can be said to possess value.

Mufti Faraz Adam from Amanah Advisors asserts that many crypto assets offer utility within their ecosystems. This utility grants owners rights such as asset ownership, licenses, or platform access. The utility of this law has granted them the status of ‘Ml’ (wealth) from a Shariah perspective. Therefore, making it permissible to use. These affirmative views underscore the potential alignment of cryptocurrencies with Islamic finance principles.

Analyzing Specific Cryptocurrencies: Halal or Haram?

The halal or haram status of specific cryptocurrencies is akin to a puzzle, with each piece representing different features and use cases. Whether a cryptocurrency fits into the halal or haram category depends on factors such as its inherent value, practical purpose, and adherence to Islamic principles. It’s like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, where every piece must align perfectly to form the complete picture.

The Crypto-Halal system, a tool that aids in determining the halal or haram status of a cryptocurrency based on its attributes and features, could serve as a potential aid in this intricate analysis. Given the vast and continually growing number of cryptocurrencies, such a system could prove invaluable for Muslim investors seeking to navigate the digital currency labyrinth in compliance with their faith.

Bitcoin and Ethereum

When it comes to specific cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ethereum often take center stage. These digital currencies, renowned for their wide acceptance and established use cases, have sparked vibrant discussions in the Islamic finance sphere. Some scholars argue that Bitcoin and Ethereum can be considered halal if they meet certain conditions and are used for legitimate purposes.

However, the halal status of these cryptocurrencies isn’t universally acknowledged. Some scholars deem them haram due to their speculative nature and volatility. In the end, the acceptance of Bitcoin and Ethereum in Islamic finance depends on their ability to comply with fundamental Islamic principles and their legitimacy as a medium of exchange.

Privacy Coins and Stablecoins

Privacy coins and stablecoins, two other types of crypto coins, add another layer of complexity to the halal or haram discussion. Privacy coins prioritize anonymity, while stablecoins offer stability by being pegged to traditional assets or currencies. Are these digital currencies a welcome addition to the Muslim’s digital wallet, or do they cross the line into the haram territory?

Islamic finance approaches privacy coins with caution due to their potential involvement in illicit activities, conflicting with the importance placed on transparency and ethical conduct. On the other hand, stablecoins, with their asset-based financing nature, may be viewed as more compatible with Islamic financial law. However, the permissibility of these digital currencies ultimately depends on their alignment with the principles of Islamic finance.

Crypto Activities: Trading, Staking, and NFTs

Apart from the cryptocurrencies themselves, certain activities associated with them also come under scrutiny in the light of Islamic finance. Trading, staking, and the utilization of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) each present unique considerations for the Muslim investor. To navigate this, one must tread carefully, ensuring that their actions align with Islamic values.

Trading in cryptocurrency, particularly spot trading, is generally considered halal as it involves actual acquisition and ownership of the underlying asset. However, activities like staking and trading futures halal are seen as haram due to their similarity to earning interest and gambling, respectively. The discussion on these activities underscores the need for Muslim investors to be mindful of their actions in the crypto landscape.

Crypto Trading: Spot vs. Futures

Spot trading in cryptocurrencies is akin to the traditional marketplace, where goods are bought and sold for immediate delivery. This form of trading, involving the actual acquisition and ownership of the underlying asset, aligns with the concept of ownership and possession, which is significant in Islamic finance. Therefore, spot trading is generally considered halal.

In contrast, futures trading in cryptocurrencies is seen as haram due to its speculative nature and resemblance to gambling. It involves buying or selling contracts that represent the value of a particular cryptocurrency at a future date, which contradicts the principles of Islamic finance. The divergent views on these trading forms underscore the complexity of navigating the crypto market as a Muslim investor.

Staking and Earning Interest

Staking, another crypto activity, involves locking up cryptocurrency in a smart contract to contribute to the security and functionality of the blockchain network. Some scholars argue that this activity is haram due to its similarity to earning interest, which is strictly prohibited in Islamic finance. However, other scholars argue that staking can be halal if it aligns with Islamic finance principles, adding another layer of complexity to the discussion.

Earning interest in cryptocurrencies is a controversial topic. While it’s a common practice in the crypto world, it is seen as haram in Islamic finance due to the prohibition of riba (interest). This highlights the need for Muslim investors to carefully consider the implications of their crypto activities on their adherence to Islamic principles.

NFTs and Digital Art

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) represent another facet of the crypto world that raises questions in Islamic finance. NFTs are unique digital assets generated and traded using blockchain technology. They often represent items of value such as digital art, collectibles, or virtual real estate. But do these digital asset types align with the principles of Islamic finance?

The permissibility of NFTs and digital art in Islamic finance depends on their content and adherence to Islamic principles. If the digital art forms such as:

  • calligraphy

  • inanimate objects

  • landscapes

  • abstract phenomena

If the digital art and its content are deemed halal, the NFTs representing them would be considered halal. However, it is paramount to abstain from depicting anything illegal or forbidden by Shariah, underscoring the need for careful consideration when dealing with NFTs and digital art.

As a Muslim investor venturing into the crypto landscape, one must ensure their investments align with Islamic finance principles. This involves not only selecting halal cryptocurrencies, but also adopting ethical investing practices and effective risk management. Similar to a gardener meticulously choosing seeds and nurturing them to bloom into thriving plants, Muslim investors need to carefully select halal crypto projects and foster their investments through ethical practices and risk management.

It’s also necessary for Muslim investors to keep abreast of regulatory developments in Muslim countries, as these can influence the acceptability of cryptocurrencies in Islamic finance. Some countries permit their use, while others prohibit or restrict it. In this ever-evolving landscape, keeping abreast of these developments is key to ensuring one’s investments remain in harmony with their faith.

Choosing Halal Crypto Projects

Selecting halal crypto projects is akin to choosing the right seeds to plant in a garden. It requires careful examination and understanding of each project to ensure it aligns with Islamic finance principles. The Crypto Fireside website provides a list of halal cryptocurrencies, which can serve as a valuable starting point for Muslim investors.

However, choosing halal cryptocurrencies is just part of the challenge. Ensuring the selected cryptocurrencies are used in a way that complies with Islamic principles is equally important. This involves avoiding prohibited activities such as gambling, alcohol, or tobacco, and ensuring investments are ethical and transparent, making the concept of cryptocurrency halal a reality.

Ethical Investing and Risk Management

Ethical investing and risk management are imperative for Muslim investors in the crypto environment. Ethical investing involves avoiding excessive speculation, managing risk, and ensuring that one’s investments align with Islamic values. It’s like building a strong, sturdy ship that can weather any storm.

Conversely, risk management involves strategies like diversification, long-term investing, and research and analysis. These strategies can help Muslim investors steer clear of excessive uncertainty and risk, ensuring their investment ship stays afloat in the turbulent waters of the crypto ocean.

Regulatory Developments in Muslim Countries

Regulatory developments in Muslim countries act as guiding markers for Muslim investors in the crypto environment. Some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, allow the use and trading of digital tokens. These countries have implemented regulations that encompass licensing, governance, and risk management, among others, to maintain a safe and transparent crypto environment.

On the contrary, countries like Egypt, Indonesia, and Qatar ban the use and trading of cryptocurrencies due to religious considerations and the belief that cryptocurrencies don’t comply with Islamic finance principles. Violations of these regulations can lead to legal consequences such as fines or imprisonment, underscoring the need for Muslim investors to stay informed about regulatory developments in their respective countries.


Navigating the crypto landscape as a Muslim investor is a journey filled with intriguing twists and turns. From understanding the principles of Islamic finance and their relevance to cryptocurrencies, to dissecting differing scholarly opinions, analyzing specific cryptocurrencies, and exploring various crypto activities, the journey traverses a myriad of topics.

The journey concludes with practical guidance for Muslim investors, emphasizing the importance of choosing halal crypto projects, practicing ethical investing and risk management, and staying updated on regulatory developments in Muslim countries. While the journey through the crypto landscape may be complex, it’s a rewarding one that offers much insight and learning for the Muslim investor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is cryptocurrency allowed in Islam?

Islamic scholars largely agree that, as it stands, cryptocurrency is prohibited according to Islamic law. Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has also banned cryptocurrency trading, indicating that its use is not accepted in Islam.

Is crypto a form of gambling?

Cryptocurrency gambling can be seen as similar to casino gambling in terms of risk and reward, however, there are some key differences. Therefore, it can be said that crypto is a form of gambling.

Does Islam smile on cryptocurrency?

Views on cryptocurrency vary, with some Muftis allowing mainstream cryptocurrencies due to a lack of riba, while others caution against involving oneself in gharar. Therefore, it is unclear if Islam approves of cryptocurrency.

Is Binance halal or haram?

Most scholars deem BNB to be halal, which is a view we concur with. Cryptocurrency’s halal status hinges on whether it is ‘Ml’, something that can be bought or obtained as a service.

What are the principles of Islamic finance that must be adhered to in order to ensure Sharia compliance?

Adherence to the principles of Islamic finance is essential to ensure Sharia compliance; these include prohibition of Riba (interest), Gharar (uncertainty) and Haram activities, as well as risk and profit sharing, and asset-backed financing.

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