Mosque accepts cryptocurrency donations

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(13 Jun 2018) LEADIN:
An east London mosque has begun accepting cryptocurrency donations, making it what’s thought to be the first mosque in Britain to do so.
The use of cryptocurrencies by Muslims has caused significant debate, with some high-ranking figures declaring that digital currencies are forbidden under Islam.
STORYLINE:
Masjid Ramadan is truly a crypto mosque.
The east London mosque – also known as Shacklewell Lane Mosque – recently began accepting donations in both Bitcoin and Ethereum, two of the most widely used cryptocurrencies.
It’s thought to be the first mosque in Britain to do so.
“All we’ve done is created a platform for people that make profit and obligated in our religion to donate two-and-a-half percent,” explains Erkin Guney, chairman of the board of trustees.
“We’ve created that, we’ve had a tremendous amount of support and donations coming through, which will go where it needs to go.”
During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are obliged to donate 2.5 per cent of their wealth to charity. It’s known as ‘Zakat.’
Masjid Ramadan, a registered charity, hopes to raise at least 10,000 British pounds in crypto donations during the 30-day festival. Some of the money will be used to repair sections of the mosque.
There is some debate amongst Muslim communities about whether cryptocurrencies are ‘haram’ – or forbidden under Islam.
Islam forbids speculation and interest. The high volatility of cryptocurrencies has made them popular among some investors.
But imams here at Masjid Ramadan have taken a different view.
“There are various views and the one that we have is that everything which the Quran or god has legislated, everything is permissible until there’s some proof of text that makes it impermissible,” says Imam Abdullah, Abu Essa Adeyemi.
“I have not yet come across any clear evidence which makes it impermissible. One may argue about the system of trade and how it’s traded, but we’re not in those kind of dynamics. We’re simply accepting the coin to change it into sterling and to finance our masjid and services. Any ordinary money, even the sterling money that goes into the bucket, we do not know where one has obtained it from. We’re not required to ask a donor how he earned his money’s that is between them and their lord.”
Gurmit Singh, founder of London-based blockchain start-up Combo Innovation, assisted the mosque on how to receive, store and sell cryptocurrencies safely.
So as not to speculate with the volatile currencies, as soon as donations are deposited in the mosque’s ‘hard wallet,’ they’re traded for British pounds.
Singh says the whole transaction takes between 35 minutes to one hour.
“We identified last year that there were literally two or three organisations around the world, Islamic organisations, are accepting Bitcoin,” says Singh.
“Taking into account that Muslims make up approximately a third of the world’s population, and if one percent of all Bitcoin currently in circulation was owned by Muslims, and of that if two-point-five was Zakat-able, we’d be looking at approximately 24.5 million pounds worth. Or approximately 32 million dollars’ worth of Bitcoin eligible Zakat sitting in Muslim-owned wallets.”
Singh says he’s received interest from Indonesia and other countries about their use of cryptocurrencies. in religious settings. He’s convinced it’s the future.
“Whether it’s Bitcoin, whether it’s Litecoin, whether it’s Euro coin, whether it’s Obama coin or Trump coin – we don’t know – but there will be something with ‘coin’ at the end, which we will be using, and our children will be using in the future,” he says.

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