By Edward Rowe
A Dalston mosque made history by raising over £10,000 after accepting donations in crypto-currencies Bitcoin and Ethereum as part of a fundraising campaign during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Masjid Ramadan also known as Shacklewell Lane Mosque is believed to be the first ever mosque in the UK to accept charitable contributions in crypto-currency. Crypto-currencies are digital currencies that allow users to transfer wealth independent of any central banks, there are many different crypto-currencies but the most popular are Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The pioneering mosque, which is also Britain’s first Turkish-owned mosque is run by the UK Turkish Islamic Trust, a small independent charity that receives no outside funding.
The trust launched the ground-breaking campaign in order to raise money from Zakat (annual obligatory alms-giving equal to 2.5% of a Muslim’s wealth) and Sadaqah (voluntary charitable donations) given by Muslim crypto-currency owners during the holy month in which believers are required to give selflessly.
By the end of its 30-day Ramadan campaign, the mosque had raised a total of £17,443, of which £13,983 was given in crypto-currency. Masjid Ramadan received 24 crypto-currency donations in total throughout the month which lasted from 17 May to 14 June. Seventeen of these were made in Bitcoin and a further seven in Ethereum. Crypto-currencies can be worth thousands of pounds sterling and one Bitcoin was equal to £5,658 when the mosque started its campaign in May.
The largest single crypto-currency contribution came in the form of 14.99 Ethereum and was worth over £5,200 — more than the combined value of all cash donations given by local worshippers which came to £3,460.
The charity plans to use the money for crucial repairs to the mosque building, providing food and shelter to needy members of the local community and assisting poor Muslim families with funeral costs, which can also include repatriation to Turkey, North Cyprus and elsewhere alongside burials in Britain.
“We are truly grateful to everyone who donated whether through crypto-currency or by conventional means. Many people at the mosque were initially sceptical about us accepting this new money, but the fact we received four times more in crypto-currency donations shows how important it is to be open to these new digital currencies. These donations will make a huge difference to our mosque and charitable works” said Erkin Guney, chairman of the mosque’s Board of Trustees.
There is debate among Islamic scholars as to whether crypto-currencies are religiously permissible, but Masjid Ramadan took special measures to ensure it did not break any rules while accepting the donations. Shacklewell Lane Mosque leaders hope that other mosques and organisations will follow its lead and also make use of crypto-currency contributions for charitable purposes.