May 24, 2018
Combo Innovation's CEO Gurmit Singh attended a press briefing at Masjid Ramadan on Monday to help launch a ground-breaking campaign. The mosque is believed to be the first in Britain to accept crypto-currencies.
Mosque officials announced they are now accepting Zakat and Sadaqah donations in Bitcoin and Ethereum. It hopes to benefit from Muslim crypto-currency users who are obliged to give away 2.5% of their wealth to charity during Ramadan as Zakat, a compulsory annual donation that must be made by all but the very poorest Muslims.
Combo Innovation advised and assisted the mosque on how to receive, store and sell crypto-currency safely. Talking at the press briefing Mr Singh explained that Bitcoin holds 36% market share, followed by Ethereum on 17%. He stated that:
"According to [crypto data site] CoinGecko, the total market cap on crypto-currencies is £290bn, with Bitcoin accounting for £104bn. If Muslims, who make up a quarter of the world's population, hold just 1% of Bitcoins - or £1.04bn - then £26 million in Zakat contributions is due."
"It's likely the actual figure is much higher. Currently hardly any mosques or Islamic charities accept Zakat in crypto-currency. They are potentially losing out on millions of pounds that can be used for many worthy causes."
The mosque, a registered charity, hopes to raise £10,000 from crypto-currency over Ramadan. Erkin Guney, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, stated this year's Zakat is earmarked for three principal areas: essential repairs at the mosque, assisting poor Muslim families with funeral costs, and feeding and offering shelter to those in need in the local area.
"We are a small independent mosque, which does not receive funding from anywhere. We are constantly trying to serve the local community, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and all support is most welcome. Muslims can now give Zakat or Sadaqah [voluntary year-round donation for Muslims] as Bitcoins and Ethereum via our website."
During the hour-long briefing, Zayd al Khair, a religious advisor at Masjid Ramadan, stated that, "Zakat is a gift, to help purify our wealth. Crypto-currency is new, but its usage is growing. In these circumstances, someone needs to lead. We've started this ground-breaking campaign. If it's successful, I am sure many more mosques and [Islamic] charities will embrace crypto-currencies too."
He added that the usage of crypto-currency continues to generate much debate across all society, noting that for Muslims following Islamic [Sharia] law, the picture is even more complicated: "Some Islamic scholars have spoken in favour of crypto-currency, stressing that similar concerns existed when people swapped from gold to fiat currency [paper money]. Others, such as the Mufti of Egypt, have spoken out against, fearing a lack of regulation and the anonymity of users makes crypto-currency an 'open gate' for criminal activity."
Mr al Khair explained the core principles governing financial transactions for Muslims, including that Islam forbids interest, ambiguity, speculation, and the acceptance of payments known to be 'haram'.
He said that Masjid Ramadan's imams, trustees and advisors had examined the case on both sides carefully before taking a decision to accept crypto-currency donations, because: "Any money or currency is neither halal - permissible - nor haram - impermissible. Guidance is about the value which it represents. If money is transacted in a lawful manner then it is halal. We do not always know the source of cash donations, but we take these in good faith too."
Those wishing to make a crypto-currency Zakat or Sadaqah can visit the Donation section of the mosque's website, www.MasjidRamadan.org . Donors can use the relevant QR code to make their donation in either Bitcoin or Ethereum, which will be safely and securely transferred to the bank's crypto-currency hard wallet. Its ledger is visible for all to see.
Once received, the mosque will promptly liquidate the donation, so it does not fall foul of Islam's speculation rule that concerns some given the volatile valuation of Bitcoin in particular. Using a reputable currency exchange like LocalBitcoin UK, the mosque will trade with those wanting to buy Bitcoins in exchange for Sterling. The transaction takes about 30 minutes, after which the amount in Sterling will be deposited directly into the mosque's bank account.