Crypto Assets from Shariah Perspective: Shariah Scholars Opinion on Cryptocurrency

Crypto assets have been a hot topic in the Shariah perspective lately due to the hype of cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Crypto assets, also known as digital assets or virtual assets, are digital representations of value that are cryptographically secured on a blockchain platform. In short, we call them crypto. An asset is anything that serves as a store of value. Cryptoassets got their name because they can store value, and people can convert them into cash as needed. Furthermore, crypto assets holders can benefit from holding or using them over time.

Wait! Wasn’t it similar to cryptocurrency?

Well, cryptocurrency is one of the types of crypto assets. Crypto experts, economists, and regulators have classified crypto assets into various categories according to various criteria, such as their usage, consensus algorithms, underlying technology, underlying asset or framework.

Cryptocurrency runs on the decentralized finance framework using blockchain technology. Defi is a technological disruption that has begun to attract the attention of industry players and Islamic finance researchers. Although there are differences of opinion in the application, we will briefly explain the Shariah scholars’ opinion about cryptocurrency.


The first type of crypto asset is cryptocurrency. Islam sees money or wealth as property owned by men as vicegerents of Allah. In Islam, money has a social function and its usage and investment should benefit society and achieve socio-economic justice. Furthermore, currency in Islam can be anything with inherent worth as long as its value does not fluctuate abnormally or unpredictably. According to Shariah, any item that can be traded for something of similar worth without adding anything is considered lawful.

However, there are different perspectives among scholars on cryptocurrencies. Some consider cryptocurrencies “Halal”, while others consider them “Haram” or impermissible. Other scholars are also in the middle and have decided to take more time to consider the nature of cryptocurrencies before declaring them halal or haram.

Some Muslim scholars who believe cryptocurrency is haram include:

1- Sheikh Shawki Allam (Grand Mufti of Egypt)

He believes that using Bitcoin posed a risk of fraud, a lack of understanding, and dishonesty. According to the Grand Mufti, risks may arise because there is no regulation on virtual money.

2- Sheikh Imran Hussain (Modern Muslim Scholar)

According to him, any currency that lacks intrinsic value cannot be considered money. As a result, only gold and silver money can meet Shariah’s criteria.

3- Professor Ahmed Kamel Mydin Meera (former dean of the Institute of Islamic Banking & Finance,  International Islamic University Malaysia)

He believes that digital currency must have a monetary commodity as a measure of value to be eligible in the Islamic financial industry. According to him, paper notes or electronic currencies must have a standard weight and be redeemable with a standard weight such as gold.

On the other hand, some scholars view cryptocurrencies as halal or permissible. Some of those scholars are:

1- Sheikh Dr. Adnan Al-Zahrani (ex-chairman of the Shariah Supervisory Board of Al-Jazeera Bank)

He said that cryptocurrency is one of the currencies/ money that have emerged due to creating and developing money. In other words, it began as a simple barter, then progressed to gold and silver coins, then to paper money, and now to virtual money in the form of cryptocurrencies

2- Dr Monzer Kahf (Islamic economics and finance expert, Professor at the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies).

In his view, bitcoin is like any other currency. It is subject to the same conditions within its community and exchanging it for other currencies. Furthermore, two conditions apply in the ruling of cryptocurrency; 1) exchange should be on the spot, without leverage; 2) no currency speculation. Even though he accepts bitcoin as payment, he has little faith in it until people can trade it in the open market like other currencies.

3- Mufti Abdul Qadir Barakatullah (member of the Shari’ah Committee in Al-Ryan Bank).

He argues that cryptocurrencies can be an effective tool for further developing Islamic finance. Furthermore, he believes that cryptocurrencies are halal and permissible because Muslim scholars believe that anything that is widely accepted in society as a form of payment can be recognized as money in Shariah.

4- Mufti Faraz Adam (Amanah Advisors)

According to Mufti Faraz Adam, many crypto assets clearly serve as a utility in their ecosystem. For example, tokens provide their owners with the right to something such as ownership of the asset, license, or access to a platform. Having a legal utility is sufficient to classify something as maal (wealth). Therefore, from a Shariah perspective, a crypto asset with lawful utility can be considered maal and property.

Furthermore, he argued that we can use cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange because it is maal. Based on the principle of al-Urf al-Khass (the customary practice of a specific group), it is possible to consider something as a medium of exchange within their specific ecosystem but not beyond.

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