Religious Ban on Cryptocurrencies Provokes Social Media Reproach in Ingushetia
A decision by a prominent religious body in Ingushetia to prohibit dealings with cryptocurrency has sparked controversy in the predominantly Muslim Russian republic. Critics have taken to social media to express their disagreements with the ban, pointing out that the treatment of bitcoin in Islamic jurisdictions is not one-sided.
Islamic Cleric Explains Reasoning Behind Crypto Prohibition
At a meeting in mid-April, the Ingush Council of Alims adopted a ban on the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies by Muslims in the country. The Islamic clergymen said at the time that they took the decision after studying Islamic sources and reaching a conclusion that the religion prohibits the trading of electronic money.
Deputy Chief Mufti Magomed Hashtyrov has since been compelled to explain the council’s position. This week, he told the local newspaper Ingushetia that cryptocurrencies, as a means of payment, have no physical representation and their exchange differs from the trading of goods in a physical marketplace. The latter is not prohibited for Muslims. The theologian revealed that the council had already intervened to resolve disputes over cryptocurrency, even between clerics in one case, and stated:
Only honest labor brings people together, and virtual easy money quarrels them.
Hashtyrov then insisted that “cryptocurrency, for now, is neither money, nor it is a commodity. When it becomes publicly available, legally accepted means of payment, with a state guarantee, then we can talk about money, but not today,” Ingushetia quoted him saying.
Instagram Users React to Unfounded Ban on Crypto Trading in Ingushetia
The newspaper shared the article with Hashtyrov’s comments on Instagram and judging by the reactions, not everyone agrees with his interpretations. As reported by the Caucasian Knot portal, Ingushetians have commented that their country has more pressing issues to deal with than banning crypto transactions. “There are a lot of problems in the republic. But the clergy and authorities are ‘fixated’ on cryptocurrency,” wrote a user with the handle ‘tumgoev_111_06.’
“Ban the sale of alcohol, condemn corrupt officials,” suggested someone named ‘kaddafi.’ “They just found something to talk about and sort out,” added a user called ‘eva_mango.’ Others have challenged the validity of the imposed ban: “I have been trading cryptocurrency for two years! Before I started, I read a couple of articles on Islamic forums, where it was clearly stated that there is nothing forbidden in this, if you don’t trade futures,” noted ‘tsoro.1.’ Then ‘dzurdzuk666’ wrote:
Not money, not commodity, in what sense??? If at any time you can exchange it for money and commodity… Paper money is trash too. But we use it.
“I wouldn’t say that’s exactly ‘easy’ money. Knowledge and ability are needed to use it. It seems to me that this issue has not been fully studied by theologians,” suggests a female commenter with the Instagram handle ‘angry_hare_4,’ quoted by Caucasian Knot. The portal has also published another, better qualified opinion on the matter, that of Gapur Oziev, associate professor of economics at the International Islamic University in Kuala Lumpur. Oziev, who has been teaching Islamic banking and finance since 2008, was surprised by the Ingush clergy’s decision on the matter.
“They have announced a very old version of the fatwa. At the moment, there are a lot of scholars who do not directly prohibit it, although they condemn everything related to cryptocurrency,” he told the online edition. “There are more questions than answers. There are many dubious things, and the hadiths say to avoid the dubious. However, since there is no explicit text in the Sharia under which it would be possible to prohibit cryptocurrency, it’s not worth saying that it is haram,” Oziev emphasized.