“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” — Quran 1:183
Fasting is one of the special rituals of Islam. It encourages and teaches patience and delaying gratification, both of which are essentials to the Bitcoin philosophy. So, what does Bitcoin have to do with Ramadan?
Arabic Etymology Of Fasting And Ramadan
Ṣawm (Arabic for fasting) means abstention, this includes potentially abstention from food, drink, sexual intercourse and/or speaking. Fasting, in the Islamic sense, is the abstention from food, drink and sexual intercourse during the day. Ramadan is the month in which Muslims are obligated to fast.
The etymology and meaning of Ramaḍan is a disputable matter in the sources. Some say it means “hot weather” and it’s named so because when they chose the name it was hot. Others say it’s “the rain in the end of summer and the beginning of the fall,” or “the rain that finds the land burning when fallen” from the word, “Ramaḍi.” Solving this dispute, however, is beyond this article’s topic.
If you ask Muslims about the moral of Ṣawm, many will say, “It’s about sympathy for the poor and the disadvantaged.” However, many Muslim philosophers and philologists hold that it’s about patience, delaying gratification and self-fulfillment. We read in the old Arabic dictionary Lisan Al-Arab, “Fasting is patience.” This brings us to the next idea: HODLing is Ṣawm.
HODLing As Fasting
The philosophy of HODLing, held mainly by Bitcoin maximalists, has an underlying principle rooted in Austrian economics, namely, time preference. In economics, time preference is the current relative valuation placed on receiving a good or some cash at an earlier date compared with receiving it at a later date. HODLing is a low time preference action because it's an abstention from spending bitcoin on expedient goods, services or products. Trading, on the other hand, is high time preference since it’s focused on making fast gains or interest.
Ṣawm has the same underlying principle as HODLing, that is, delaying gratification. Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and having any sexual intercourse during the day, so that they can receive God’s blessing by being more righteous. Fasting and bitcoin, each in its unique way, incentivize low time preference and delayed gratification, both of which, in turn, usher in self-fulfillment.
You can conceptualize the effect of low time preference as anti-consumerism. Sound money (i.e., bitcoin) is always incompatible with consumerism. How is that?
Bitcoin As Ramadi
As we have said earlier, Ramaḍi means the rain that falls and finds the land burning. The word is cognate to the word Ramaḍan itself.
In our world of hyperinflation, consumerism is incentivized by inflating the money supply (i.e., printing more money). “How is that?” You might ask. Well, if your money purchasing power is always being decreased, then purchasing things now, rather than later, would be the best for you. On the contrary, in a sound money (i.e., bitcoin) system, holding money is incentivized because the purchasing power of each unit is continuously increasing rather than decreasing, thus encouraging HODLing and low time preference.
Bitcoin is the Ramaḍi to our hyperinflated world, it’s the antidote to its inefficient monetary system that is unjustly stealing purchasing power from the poor, making it more and more difficult for them to buy literally anything. Bitcoin extinguishes the fire of hyperinflation, as the Ramaḍi rain extinguishes the burning land. It ushers in a new world of low time preference, high productivity and low consumerism.
From Idea To Expression: The Night Of Power And Sound Money
The Night of Power is the night within which the Quran was sent down. Most Muslims hold that the night was in late Ramadan. However, some scholars believe it can be any day in the year.
In the Night of Power, Ismaili Muslims believe that “the Holy Spirit inspired the Book (kitāb) in a spiritual form into the heart and soul of the Prophet.” Then the Prophet used his soul and imaginal faculty to express divine inspiration. Finally, this expression got recorded and distributed between Muslims.
The process of creating bitcoin was similar to that: First, the idea of sound money with limited supply showed up in Satoshi’s mind, then he used his imaginal faculty to express it in code. Finally, this code was published so that everyone can run Bitcoin and enable the first sound money in the history of man.
An Ismaili commentator said: “In the universal sense, the Night of Power is the spiritual state of receptivity to the Holy Spirit.” Now we might ask, is sound money what God wants for us?
The Only Legitimate Money
“O you who have believed, do not consume one another's wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] trade by mutual consent…” — Quran 4:29
“Inflation, being a fraudulent invasion of property, could not take place on the free market.” — Murray Rothbard
Continuously printed by central banks, fiat money is a system of continuous devouring of other people’s money and time without any consent, and thus, it’s illegitimate. Central banks, and governments in general, are the first and foremost privileged party in this process, in which other people have no choice due to regulations that prevent using other currencies. This control over the free choice in market is also one thing that is not compatible with Islam, even though some Muslim countries have no problem implementing it. Let’s see this hadith: “When prices were high in the Prophet’s time the people asked him to fix prices for them, but he replied, ‘God is the One who fixes prices, who withholds, gives lavishly and provides, and I hope that when I meet my Lord none of you will have any claim on me for an injustice regarding blood or property.’” So fixing prices, which includes setting minimum wages, is an injustice. How is it different for fixing the currency?
Ramadan is also about being pure and focusing on the more meaningful things in life. Opting out from the ungodly fiat system is a moral obligation on each one of us, and we can’t do that without Bitcoin.
Fast and HODL
The Bitcoin Translator
This is a guest post by Bitcoin Translator. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.