A mosque in the UK decided to accept cryptocurrency – and it’s seen dramatic results…
A little over two months since it became the first UK mosque to accept donations in the form of cryptocurrency, Masjid Ramadan in East London has raised almost £14,000 in digital payments.
During the 30 days of Ramadan, from 16 May to 14 June 2018, the mosque in Shacklewell Lane, Hackney collected the equivalent of £13,983 in Bitcoin and Ethereum, while its cash donations reached a relatively paltry £3,460.
Muslims are obliged to donate 2.5% of their wealth to charitable causes during Ramadan under what’s known as ‘zakat.’ Zakat, or almsgiving, is one of the five pillars of Islam – alongside fasting, pilgrimage, prayer and belief in Allah and Muhammad – and it is a compulsory gift made by adults who earn over a certain threshold.
The donations were made from across the globe and collected in partnership with London-based startup Combo Innovation, which calls itself an “Islamic compliant blockchain financial solution.”
“Many people at the mosque were initially sceptical about us accepting this new money,” the mosque’s chairman, Erkin Guney, told inews.co.uk, “but the fact we received four times more in cryptocurrency donations shows how important it is to be open to these new digital currencies.” Plus, regular donations, or Sadaqah, are still flooding in, he added.
The pair announced plans to accept digital donations in May. Combo Innovation’s CEO Gurmit Singh said at the time: “It came to our attention were almost no Islamic charities whereby Muslims can pay Zakat made on their cryptocurrencies. Taking into account the surge in global crypto popularity and prices, we felt there are potentially millions of dollars of potential Zakat.”
Singh estimates that if Muslims were to hold just 1% of the world’s Bitcoins, based on current market caps, a staggering £26 million in Zakat contributions could be due.
The Shacklewell Lane mosque is managed by registered charity The UK Turkish Islamic Trust. Its donation page accepts payments via JustGiving and PayPal as well as its own Bitcoin and Ethereum wallets, via QR code.
The money will reportedly pay for essential mosque repairs and go towards helping poor members of the local Muslim community with food, housing, and funeral costs.
Cryptocurrency is seen, by some including the Mufti of Egypt, as haram – or forbidden – in Islam due to its ties with illegal activity, namely drugs and weapons bought and sold using digital currency on the dark web. Egypt’s top imam, Sheikh Shawki Allam, previously described it as carrying risks of “fraudulence, lack of knowledge, and cheating”.
However, after consultation with Combo Innovation and local religious advisors, the Hackney mosque ruled cryptocurrency is halal if it is “transacted in a lawful manner,” likening the concerns to those raised when communities switched from gold to fiat currency. It added that it doesn’t always know the source of cash donations, but accepts them in good faith, too.