The Grand Mufti of Egypt this week called for Bitcoin, and other forms of cryptocurrency, to be banned in the country, stating that this type of digital currency is not permitted under Islam.
Shawki Allam, Egypt’s highest-ranking Muslim cleric and an authority on Islamic law and tradition, said that trading in cryptocurrency was comparable to gambling, which is strictly forbidden. He said that, like gambling, Bitcoin is directly responsible for bringing about the financial ruin of families, businesses, and individuals. Sources in Egypt, including the daily newspaper, Al-Ahram, report that Shawki Allam has issued a fatwa that Bitcoin should be banned.
Though not legally binding, under the Islamic faith a fatwa is considered a learned interpretation, or a legal opinion given on issues that pertain to Islamic law. These authoritative opinions may only be levied by the Sheikhul Islam – an appropriately qualified mufti, or jurist.
In recent months, there has been a massive influx of new investors and speculators and investors sinking money into the cryptocurrency as its trading price has escalated at phenomenal rates, seeing an increase in values of 2500% over the course of 2017.
This volatility was part of Allam’s concern. With Bitcoin having no formal regulation, the Grand Mufti noted that the element of risk involved, combined with the high potential for profit, would seriously undermine the ability of Egypt, and other nations, to stabilise their own currencies.
He also feared that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies could have a negative impact on the legal safety of its dealers, owing to them failing to disclose these operations to the public. Such a loophole, he said, was easily corrupted and abused for money laundering purposes and the trading of contraband goods.
Bitcoin is currently legal in the country, but Egypt’s Financial Regulatory Authority announced recently that persuading people to utilise such digital currency counted as a form of deception.
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