Cairo: Egypt's top imam has endorsed a ban on trading in Bitcoin by declaring it 'unlawful' and 'forbidden' by Islam.
Sheikh Shawki Allam, the Grand Mutfi, on Monday said the digital crypto-currency carried risks of 'fraudulence, lack of knowledge and cheating,' Al Ahram online reported.
In an official fatwa, Allam said that trading such a 'virtual currency' was not permissible as it was not considered by legitimate bodies an 'acceptable interface of exchange'.
Bitcoin began last year below $1,000 but reached nearly $20,000 before the end of the year, the BBC reported.
Then it lost more than 25 per cent of its value inside a week, sparking warnings of a dangerous bubble.
The Grand Mufti said risks could arise because Bitcoin was not subject to surveillance by any centralized authority.
"Bitcoin is forbidden in Sharia as it causes harm to individuals, groups and institutions," the fatwa said.
In August 2017, Egypt's first bitcoin exchange was opened. The crypto-currency was declared illegitimate by the authorities last month.
An adviser to the Grand Mufti, Magdy Ashour, told Egypt Today that Bitcoin was 'used directly to fund terrorists'.
Last month, a New York-based woman was charged with laundering Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies and wiring the money to help the Islamic State terror group.
Allam said that the crypto-currency trade exchange was similar to 'gambling', which is forbidden in Islam, 'due to its direct responsibility in financial ruin of individuals'.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley had on Tuesday said that bitcoin was not legal tender in India.