A London mosque is thought to be the first in the world to accept bitcoin donations, one month after an Islamic scholar declared the cryptocurrency permissible under Sharia Law.
The Shacklewell Lane Mosque in Hackney announced that it is hoping to raise at least £10,000 in cryptocurrency donations over Ramadan, through both bitcoin and ethereum. Muslims are asked to give away 2.5 per cent of their wealth during the 30-day festival as part of zakat.
“We are trying to appeal to a wider audience with the new money,” Erkin Guney, the chairman of the board of trustees, told The Hackney Gazette.
“It’s big in the Islamic world, and we have set up a platform for wealthier Muslims outside our community to support and donate to our mosque.”
Last month, Muhammad Abu-Bakar of Blossom Finance in Indonesia explored the functionality of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to determine whether they fit with Islam’s strict definitions of money.
“Several recent fatawah issued by prominent Muslim scholars offered incomplete or contradictory opinions on the topic,” said Matthew Martin, CEO of Blossom Finance.
“With all the confusion out there, we wanted to offer clear guidance supported by solid research that benefits both laypeople and practitioners of Islamic finance.”
The conclusion of his study was that bitcoin is permissible in principle as it is accepted by a wide variety of global merchants.
The bitcoin wallet address used by the mosque to receive the cryptocurrency has so far only received one donation, worth just over £100 at today’s prices.
Gurmit Singh, founder of blockchain startup Combo Innovation who helped advise the mosque on setting up the bitcoin wallet, is hopeful for more donations.
“If Muslims, who make up a quarter of the world’s population, hold just 1 per cent of bitcoins – or £1.04 billion – then £26 million in Zakat contributions is due,” Mr Singh said.
“It is likely the actual figure is much higher. Currently hardly any mosques or Islamic charities accept Zakat in cryptocurrency. They are potentially losing out on millions of pounds."