For Religion News Service:
ISTANBUL (RNS) — Mustafa Ergin, a shopkeeper, sits in the back of a crowded audience in Istanbul listening to a panel of economists speaking about cryptocurrencies.
Ergin, 42, who owns a corner store nearby, has spent the last few months agonizing over whether he should invest in bitcoin. “I have not bought anything yet, but I want to because it looks like someone could really make money this way,” Ergin said. “But first, I want to figure out if it’s permissible in Islam.”
With prohibitions on gambling and earning interest, Islamic teaching has a lot to say on what Muslims can do with their money.
Turkey, like much of the world, has witnessed a dizzying rise in interest in bitcoin and the hundreds of other cryptocurrencies that have been modeled on it, driven by stories of working-class people striking it rich with a new technology that few seem to understand.
And while Turkey accounts for a sliver of the global bitcoin trade, it is among the top 10 countries invested in the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin trade here has gone from about 9,000 transactions a month in May 2017 to 42,000 in December 2017. A handful of companies in construction, education and the food industry have begun accepting cryptocurrencies for payment, and there are daily seminars in cities such as Istanbul where financial experts appear before enamored audiences to explain how one can cash in.
Continue reading here.