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Are Cryptocurrencies ḥalāl? On the Sharia-Compliancy of Blockchain-Based Fintech

In: Islamic Law and Society
Author:
Irene K. F. Kirchner , Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, United States, ik337@georgetown.edu

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Abstract

The discussion of the sharia-compliancy of cryptocurrencies is shaped by the competing interests of legislators, the business and banking sector, private investors and, finally, religious scholars whose conclusions are diverse and often contradictory. This essay provides an overview of historical and modern Islamic conceptions of commodities and property, money, and contract of sale laws, and how they relate to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. In doing so, I respond to the most frequent concerns of Muslim scholars: the volatility and speculative nature of cryptocurrencies, security issues and, most commonly, the claim that cryptocurrencies are not ḥalāl because they have no intrinsic value. Finally, I show the consequences of different lines of argument for the sharia compliancy of cryptocurrencies in a case study of four cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, OneGramCoin, Steemit and Nexo.

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