Many of our Scholars have permitted buying and selling currencies with certain conditions.
Shaikh Ibn ul-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy upon him) was asked:
Question: May Allah be good to you. The questioner Muhammad Abdullah says: What is the ruling on trading in currencies?
Shaikh: There is no harm in trading in currencies. However, it is obligatory that if you trade in currencies that the possession of the currencies occur in a sitting involving both parties. If you want to exchange Saudi dirhams for American dollars, then there is no harm. However, with the condition that the possession of the currencies occur in the sitting before leaving. Yes” [http://binothaimeen.net/content/12560]
Shaikh Fawzan (may Allah preserve him) was asked:
Question: What is the religious ruling on trading in currencies [in what is] called the black market? Trading in currencies with one another is called exchange, whether with the bank or in a free market
Answer: “If the currencies are the same, like gold for gold, silver for silver, Saudi riyals for Saudi riyals, Egyptian for Egyptian, then two things are obligatory: equality in the amount and the possession of the currencies in the contractual sitting. If both conditions are missing or one of the two, then it is riba.
If the two currencies are different, like selling gold for silver, Saudi riyal for Egyptian pound, for example, then one thing is obligatory: that the possession occur in the contractual sitting. It is permissible to have variance in the amount due to the statement of the Prophet:
الذهب بالذهب، والفضة بالفضة، مثلاً بمثل، سواء بسواء، يدًا بيد، فإذا اختلفت هذه الأجناس؛ فبيعوا كيف شئتم، إذا كان يدًا بيد
Gold is to be paid for by gold, silver by silver, wheat by wheat, barley by barley, dates by dates, and salt by salt, like for like and equal for equal, payment being made hand to hand. If these classes differ, then sell as you wish if payment is made hand to hand [Muslim no. 1587]
So trade in currencies requires insight regarding the religious rulings and intense protection from falling into usury” [Muntaqa min Fatawa Shaikh Salih al-Fawzan (pg. 1000)]
Shaikh al-Albani (May Allah have mercy upon him) argued that it is not allowed for two main reasons:
1. That currencies do not have value in and of themselves but only a legal value
2. That the condition of trading hand to hand is lost because the currencies do not have a value in the first place. Also the changes in the currencies strength or value, rising one time and falling another, makes it a type of gambling in which a person does not know if they will profit or lose in the trade [See: Silsilatul-Huda wan-Nur no. 662]
The Permanent Committee passed the verdict that it is permissible with condition that the transaction is done on the spot [See: http://alifta.com/Search/ResultDetails.aspx?languagename=en&lang=en&view=result&fatwaNum=&FatwaNumID=&ID=4954&searchScope=7&SearchScopeLevels1=&SearchScopeLevels2=&highLight=1&SearchType=exact&SearchMoesar=false&bookID=&LeftVal=0&RightVal=0&simple=&SearchCriteria=allwords&PagePath=&siteSection=1&searchkeyword=099117114114101110099105101115#firstKeyWordFound]
Shaikh Sulaymaan ar-Ruhaayli (may Allah be preserve him) was asked:
Question May Allah be good to you, this questioner asks about buying and selling in currencies?
Answer: “This will come-inshallah-it is allowed to buy and selling currencies with different values with the condition that it is exchanged hand to hand. And it is not allowed to delay in it, even for an hour. The intent by that is delaying it from the contractual sitting. So it is allowed to sell dirhams for riyals and riyals for dollars and trade with it with the condition that the possession is completed in the contractual sitting. If a delay occurs, then this is from the door of Riba an-Nasiha. It is not allowed. So like that, it is obligatory to beware of buying currencies by way of the internet. In most cases, possession does not occur. If possession does not occur, then it is riba and not allowed. As for if possession occurs and a person has an account, and if he buys currencies it enters his account directly and he pays for it, and there is assurance that the possession occurs before separation [i.e. of both parties], then it is permissible”[Dawaabit ar-Riba (pg. 149-150)]
And Allah Knows Best
Faisal bin Abdul Qaadir bin Hassan