Shuhaib Shariff  · 5 min read

Cryptocurrency: Haram or Halal?

The advent of cryptocurrency has ignited a global debate on its compatibility with various ethical, legal, and religious standards. For the Muslim community, understanding whether cryptocurrencies align with Islamic principles is crucial. This article delves into the nuanced perspectives on whether cryptocurrencies are Haram (forbidden) or Halal (permissible) according to Islamic jurisprudence. We will explore the fatwas issued by prominent Islamic scholars and analyze the characteristics of different cryptocurrencies.

The Islamic Perspective on Financial Transactions

Islamic finance is grounded in Sharia law, which emphasizes justice, equity, and the prohibition of activities considered exploitative or harmful. Key principles include the prohibition of Riba (usury), Gharar (excessive uncertainty), and Haram activities (such as gambling or investing in alcohol).

Prohibition of Riba

Riba, or usury, involves earning money from money, without engaging in tangible economic activities. This principle prohibits interest-based transactions, which are common in conventional banking but pose challenges for evaluating cryptocurrencies.

Avoidance of Gharar

Gharar refers to excessive uncertainty or ambiguity in contracts and transactions. Islamic finance promotes transparency and fairness, avoiding speculative practices that can lead to unjust outcomes.

Prohibition of Haram Activities

Investments in businesses related to alcohol, gambling, pork, and other prohibited activities are considered Haram. This extends to ensuring that the underlying operations of a cryptocurrency align with Islamic values.

Cryptocurrencies: Halal or Haram?

Criteria for Halal Cryptocurrencies

  1. Absence of Riba: The cryptocurrency must not involve interest-based transactions.
  2. Minimal Gharar: The cryptocurrency should offer transparency and minimize excessive uncertainty.
  3. Compliance with Halal Business Practices: The underlying technology and use cases should not involve Haram activities.

Fatwas on Cryptocurrencies

Islamic scholars have issued varying fatwas on the permissibility of cryptocurrencies:

  • Sheikh Mufti Muhammad Abu-Bakar (Sharia advisor and compliance officer at Blossom Finance): He argued that Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies could be Halal if used for permissible purposes and with a clear, transparent transaction process. His view emphasizes the absence of Riba and Gharar in these transactions.
  • Mufti Taqi Usmani (renowned Islamic scholar): He has expressed concerns about the speculative nature of cryptocurrencies, categorizing them as Haram due to excessive uncertainty and potential for misuse in unlawful activities.
  • Mufti Muhammad Zubair Butt (Shariah advisor at Al Qalam): He acknowledges that while cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have legitimate uses, the speculative trading often associated with them can render them Haram.
  • Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad (Islamic scholar): He believes that cryptocurrencies could be considered Halal if they are used responsibly and not for speculative purposes, emphasizing the need for proper regulation and understanding.
  • Dr. Monzer Kahf (Islamic economist and jurist): He supports the view that cryptocurrencies can be Halal if they are used for legitimate transactions and are free from Riba and excessive Gharar.

Halal Cryptocurrencies

Based on the outlined criteria, the following cryptocurrencies are generally considered Halal:

  1. Bitcoin (BTC): If used as a medium of exchange for legitimate transactions, Bitcoin can be considered Halal. Its decentralized nature and transparency in transactions align with Islamic principles, provided it is not used for speculative trading.
  2. Ethereum (ETH): Ethereum is permissible if used for decentralized applications (DApps) that do not engage in prohibited activities. The smart contract functionality offers transparency, minimizing Gharar.
  3. Stellar (XLM): Designed to facilitate low-cost, cross-border transactions, Stellar aligns with the principles of fairness and accessibility, which are core to Islamic finance.

Haram Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies deemed Haram typically involve high levels of speculation or support prohibited activities. Examples include:

  1. Tether (USDT): Tether’s issues with transparency and its reliance on traditional financial systems raise concerns about Riba and Gharar, making it less favorable in Islamic finance.
  2. Tron (TRX): Known for its association with gambling and entertainment applications, Tron’s use cases often conflict with Islamic prohibitions on gambling.
  3. Ripple (XRP): While Ripple aims to facilitate financial transactions, its centralization and issues with regulatory compliance can raise concerns about transparency and excessive speculation.

The cryptocurrency market has seen significant growth and volatility in recent years. As of June 2024, the market capitalization of cryptocurrencies is approximately $2 trillion, with Bitcoin and Ethereum leading the market.

  • Bitcoin: Market capitalization of $900 billion, with a steady adoption rate in various industries.
  • Ethereum: Market capitalization of $500 billion, driven by the growth of decentralized finance (DeFi) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
  • Stellar: While not among the top cryptocurrencies by market cap, Stellar’s focus on cross-border payments has seen increasing adoption, particularly in remittance markets.

Key Benefits of Cryptocurrency to the Muslim World

  1. Financial Inclusion: Cryptocurrencies can provide access to financial services for the unbanked population in Muslim-majority countries, promoting economic growth and development.

  2. Transparency and Security: Blockchain technology offers a transparent and secure way of conducting transactions, aligning with Islamic principles of justice and fairness.

  3. Cost Efficiency: Cryptocurrencies can significantly reduce transaction costs, especially for international remittances, benefiting individuals and businesses.

  4. Empowerment through Decentralization: The decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies reduces dependence on traditional financial institutions, empowering individuals and communities to manage their finances independently.

  5. Halal Investment Opportunities: Properly vetted cryptocurrencies offer new avenues for Halal investments, providing Muslims with more options to grow their wealth in compliance with Sharia law.


The debate over whether cryptocurrencies are Haram or Halal continues to evolve as the market and regulatory environments change. Islamic scholars emphasize the need for transparency, ethical use, and compliance with Sharia principles in determining the permissibility of cryptocurrencies. While some, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, can be considered Halal if used responsibly, others, driven by speculation or associated with prohibited activities, are deemed Haram.

For Muslim investors, it is essential to conduct thorough research and seek guidance from knowledgeable scholars to ensure that their investments align with Islamic values. As the cryptocurrency landscape matures, ongoing dialogue and analysis will be crucial in navigating this complex and dynamic field.

Back to Blog