see also: Interest (financial) in Islam
Gambling has unfortunately become an acceptable practise in Muslim Society due to its wide scale promotion by the media. A large number of good Muslims are also caught in the web, not realising that they are gambling and that the earnings from the gambling are haraam.
The following is a translation of a scholarly article by the late Mufti Muhammad Shafi rahmatullahi alaihe which is being published to make Muslims aware of the different forms of transactions and other items which are classified in Shar'iah as gambling.
Every transaction in which gain and loss is obscure is known as Qimaar' and 'Maisar' in the Shar'iah terminology, and as 'Juwa' in the Urdu language. For instance, if two people compete in a race with the following conditions, that if you surpass me, then I will give you a thousand pounds and if I surpass you then you will have to give me a thousand pounds. Or if someone says, 'If it rains today you will have to give me a thousand pounds and if it does not rain then I will give you a thousand pounds.'
Likewise if some packed boxes are being sold for a fixed price, for example four pounds per box and some of the boxes have contents with a value of five pounds with others containing a value of two pounds, then the purchase of these boxes will be Qimaar. Because of the obscurity of the gain and loss. There are numerous methods of gambling and in every age and region, gambling has been played in different forms and methods.
There was a certain procedure amongst the Arabs for gambling. There would be ten arrows, each with a special name, all having different shares allocated to them, for example, one share, two shares, three shares, etc. There would also be some without a share at all. They would then jumble the arrows and ask someone to pick an arrow for each person. Whichever arrow was picked out for a person, that would be his allocated share and thereafter would be considered the owner of it. On the other hand, whosoever happened to acquire a share-less arrow he would receive nothing at all. The custom, which went hand in hand with this, was that a camel would be slaughtered and distributed according to the shares entitled to them by the arrows. A person who was unlucky would not only be deprived of the camel meat but he would also have to pay for that camel. This kind of gambling has been labelled Maisar and Azlaam by the Qur'aan. Maisar is that particular camel which is slaughtered and distributed because of gambling and Azlaam are the arrows that are used to define the amount of the shares in gambling. Apart from this, gambling was prevalent in trade in different forms. They were known as Mulamasa and Munabaza, etc., the prohibition of which is present in the Ahaadith of the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam.
Before the advent of Islam, gambling was not only customary but also taken to be a cause of pride, nobility and honour. For excessive show of pride, these people would distribute their share of the winnings amongst the poor.
(Tafseer-ul-Kabeer Lir-Razi vol 2 p231)
As Islam plays a moderate role in worship, similarly it plays a role in economics and social orders. How can Islam, the moderate way of life, cope with a state where one can take possession of somebody else's property without any valid reason, due to which, the latter gets poorer and his state diminishes and the former, without working, gathers the wealth equivalent to that of Qaroon (Korah, a kaafir whom Allah bestowed with great wealth at the time of Musa alaihis salaam)? Alternatively, without any religious excuse, a great amount of wealth is taken from the poor people's pocket and a single person is made to own it. Therefore, it was vital for Islam to prohibit these unfair ways of taking possessions. For this reason the open mindedness of the all-encompassing religion, Islam, took consideration and concern of the human passions. When alcoholic drinks and gambling were intended to be banned, their prohibition was not revealed immediately, but firstly all the disadvantages concerning them were made clear. Once these were totally engraved into their hearts, then the laws of prohibition were revealed.
In the early days of Islam the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam was questioned regarding the permissibility of gambling and alcohol. The first verse that was revealed regarding this, is in Surah Baqarah which is as follows:
"They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say, 'In them is great sin and some benefit for men; but the sin is greater than the benefit."
"O believers! Intoxicants and gambling, worshipping stones and divination by arrows are impure, of shaytan's handiwork: refrain from such abomination that ye may prosper. "
"Firstly, the Arabic word 'innama' has been placed in the beginning of the verse. In Arabic, this creates emphasis on what is mentioned afterwards. Secondly, these prohibited things have been classified as being 'rijs' (impure), from which natural disposition abstains. Thirdly, they have been branded as satanic acts. Fourthly, their severity has been categorised in the same level as idol worshipping (shirk) in the sense that they all are links of a single chain."
After mentioning that these all are 'rijs' (impure), Allah Ta'ala orders:
"Keep away from them."
Allah Ta'ala does not terminate the subject here, but He carries on mentioning their religious and worldly harm in the following aayah. Allah, the Almighty states conclusively that shaytaan wants to ruin our worldly life and the life of the Hereafter. These forbidden things, (alcohol and gambling), lay the seeds of hatred and hostility between human beings. These evil outcomes are innumerable. Their habit distracts a man from obligatory duties such as salaah and the remembrance of Allah.
May Allah protect all the Muslims from their evil.
Generally, habits and old customs that become part of a person's temperament are almost second to human nature. This was a time of great trial when, up to now, these sinful acts were part of their life and nobility, but today, they became expressly prohibited. This period is of a great importance for the Muslim Ummah in Islamic history.
It is amazing that, on one hand, there was the concern of human feelings and habits in the Shari'ah, and on the other hand, there was a great desire in the Ummah to obey the revealed commandments.
After the revelation of the above mentioned verse, Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam sent out a caller to proclaim:
"Behold, alcoholic drinks (intoxicants) have been made haraam."
It was the cry of the caller or perhaps a lightning which immediately changed their habits and feelings.
Intoxicants were very popular among the Arabs. They were manufactured and imbedded almost in every home and to drink had, so to speak, become a mark of advancement in culture. As soon as the announcement was made, the people who were greatly addicted to it and who regarded it a virtue and sign of social and cultural eminence and who would spend lavishly in the state of drunkenness from which the poor and needy profited. These very same people now in a short span of time were ready to forsake and sever any ties they may have had in regards to alcohol which had, for years played a major role in their lives. Those who held goblets in their hands immediately threw them on the ground. Many others who were in the act of drinking, spat the contents out. Sounds of pitchers and jars being smashed up were soon audible from neighbouring houses. Wine was running to such an extent that the streets of Madinah were overflowing.
Hazrat Anas radiyallahu anhu, an eminent companion of the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam narrates that some friends including Abu Ubayda ibn Jarrah, Abu Dujahna, Mu'az ibn Jabal and Sahl ibn Bayzah radiyallahu anhum had gathered at the house of Abu Talha. Alcohol was flowing and I was acting as the cup-bearer when suddenly the cry of the announcer reached our ears. None of us considered it necessary to go out and investigate the matter. Instead, the containers and jars were smashed to the ground and the wine thrown onto the streets of Madinah. After performing wudhu and ghusl we proceeded towards the Masjid where upon our arrival we found the blessed Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam reciting the aforesaid verse.
Hazrat Buraidah radiyallahu anhu also narrates a similar account wherein a group of Sahaabah were busy consuming liquor when the announcement was made. The words no sooner reached their ears that the cups were thrown to the ground. Others who were about to swallow the alcohol immediately spat it out, numerous barrels were also destroyed in the process.
(Ibn Kathir vol2 p95)
It is a disgrace that today's Muslims, despite the fact that severe and grave warnings have been given in the Qur'aan and Ahaadith relating to gambling and alcohol, lead a life of complete ignorance and unconcern. It seems that they no longer have faith in the Qur'aan and Ahaadith, Allah save us! It is not only the illiterate who are involved, but the sad fact is that those who hold lofty positions in society and who are regarded as religious, because they perform their fasts and salaah, have also fallen prey to its evil clutches. Hence for the benefit of those who are unaware or not acquainted, a few forms of gambling are being mentioned that are currently prevalent.
Nowadays, just like the epidemic of plague, the art of gambling too has now become so common that it has become virtually a means of trade and commerce. Under such headlines as "Solve this Puzzle", or "Win this Lottery" of innumerable newspapers and monthly journals that are on an ever-increase. They offer prizes for solving puzzles subject to the submitting of a fee. The participants are lured into false belief that they can win substantial sums of money. Some organisers fix huge prizes for the winners due to which the poor public think that the fees is only a small amount and will not bring no harm and therefore enter trying to win a substantial amount.
Because people have fallen prey to this disease, thousands of individuals are entering the lottery.
It is crystal clear that when a person enters into playing this game he submits his fee on the understanding that he either loses a small amount or wins a fortune; according to the divine law of Islam this act is classified as 'gambling'.
In some monthly magazines this form of gambling has expanded very widely and the income runs into millions from which the businesspersons gain overall benefit. Even if the company tries not to indulge in any form of cheating, and distributes the prize money justly, a substantial amount of money is left over which is the blood and sweat of the poor people.
The outcome of all this, is that it is the public who ends up in poverty whilst the organisers benefit from the expenses of the poor. In confirmation of the prohibition of gambling, the above mentioned evidence is sufficient; the democratic rules and curriculum of lslam and its fundamental principles forebears the public money to go in the possession of few individuals. Gambling in the form of crosswords which are prevalent today, are to be reprimanded furthermore severely since they are an aggregation of vices and sins.
The sole reason for this is that the public is being urged and exhorted to go against the commandments of Allah Ta'ala and His disobedience and the Holy Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam'.
Each and every person that takes part in this vice is disobeying the commandments which are stated by Allah Ta'ala very clearly in the Holy Qur'aan. The participator becomes a doer of major sins, most of which falls upon the organisers. The people who help them in any form also become guilty of this particular major vice.
Likewise, thousands and millions of Muslim brethren openly go against the clear order of Allah Ta'ala and his Holy Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam. In addition, thousands and millions of Muslims become involved in this act of gambling with the result that it becomes an unending and everlasting vice. May Allah Ta'ala bestow the entire mankind with salvation and freedom from this disease, Aameen.
It has been observed throughout the years in Karachi, Lahore and many other places that various types of tickets are being sold to enter exhibitions. The organisers issue tickets with lucky numbers and then prizes are allocated to the lucky persons whose numbers appear.
This form is not regarded as open gambling because the ticket owner receives the returns by entering the exhibition but now it is all depending on the intention. The person who purchases this ticket on the basis of winning a prize will be indulging in gambling. On the other hand if his intention is solely to enter the exhibition with no desire of winning a prize, and wins the prize then it will not be classified as gambling according to the rules pertaining to gambling.
The present day horse racing where one stakes a certain amount on a particular horse is in fact gambling. It is exactly that form where loss and gain is based on something indistinct, where one person loses his initial amount and the other wins a substantial amount.
In this present day each and every kind of lottery is included within gambling and is prohibited. It is found in bazaars and factories and out of which, a few well-known forms are mentioned.
The lottery business of this category has now reached an international level. The purchaser of this ticket does not buy the ticket solely with the intention of just buying it but he buys it on the basis of it being a possible winning dice by which he can win the amount of money he has aimed for. That is the reason why this is not merely trade or business venture but rather it is an act of sin to buy these or even to sell them. Because he is not merely committing a sin and transgressing but is also promoting it.
Islam gives peace to the mind, body and soul, keeping the human in perfect harmony. Every iota balanced and scaled to perfection. A serene picture of bliss and joy but when a shattering and destructive vice strikes through the heart it leaves it in a weak and downtrodden state. The National Lottery, a new religion, has hit Britain. A moneymaking, exciting, nail-biting game of chance, preying on the human soul and wealth.
This modern lottery system of gambling came from the crusades. The crusaders during a siege of the Islamic citadel of Azhar were forced to pass their time by developing new pass-times. One of those was called hazard and today this is the usual French word used for games of chance.
Hazard developed into a state enterprise and since then it has been upgraded and reformed constantly, without any feeling of guilt. Now it has, ultimately, hit Britain with a vengeance. It seems it is here to stay for a long time to come.
The saddening thing however is that from the constant onslaught of the Modernity on Islam, the National Lottery will contribute a great deal towards their ultimate goal, the total assimilation of the Muslims into the British society.
Coming towards the main aspect of our argument that in no manner can it be justified that it is permissible to play the lottery or to take part in any form of gambling whatsoever will follow. Gambling developed and turned into a money-maker, all in the name of charity. The Qur'aan has commanded the prohibition and total ban of any form of gambling and in no way whatsoever can it be proven permissible. Thus, any person who denies the prohibition of any form of gambling such as lottery etc. will be committing an act of kufr.
Gambling is prohibited with absolute proof as the Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qur'aan, "O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds ofalcoholic drinks), gambling, Al-Ansab, and Al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination ofsatan, handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful."
There are sound and noble objectives behind this strict prohibition of gambling.
1. Islamic teachings urge the Muslims to follow Allah's directives, for earning a living, which is direct means for the attainment of His objectives. On the other hand gambling, which involves raffling or the lottery makes a person dependant on chance, luck and empty wishes taking him away from honest labour, serious work and productive effort. The gambler loses respect for the laws of caution that Allah has established for the people.
2. In Islam an individual's property is sacred; it may not be taken unless given willingly or by lawful exchange. The Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam has said, "A person's wealth is not halal but with his good pleasure. "
3. Gamblers develop hatred and enmity towards one another, although they may claim that losing does not trouble them. However, I would seriously question this, a loser may seem composed but behind his composure is frustration, due to disappointment, anger at the loss of money and regret for not winning the game. The Holy Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam has said, "Do not harbour envy or ill-will; and neither spy nor be inquisitive for other persons 'faults nor make bogus offers of prices to spoil a bargain, and O Allah's servants! Be brethren to each other."
5. The person engaged in gambling does not stop at a point. Satan the accursed, who is our grave enemy, conquers the mind to such an extent that the gambler does not realise as to how much he has spent. If he were to sit down and think of the amount he has lost, he would then surely understand the situation.
We read in the papers that a charity firm who greatly in need of cash for renovating their premises gathered a few thousand pounds and were quiet happy to take the chance and gamble it in the lottery. Had this amount been rightly used, it would have at least given some benefit.
6. Because of this addiction, gambling takes a person away from the remembrance of Allah resulting in negligence of his duties towards his Creator. How correct is the Holy Qur'aan in mentioning drinking and gambling together in its verse, since their harmful effects are so similar. That is why usually one is not found without the other.
To sum up on the filth of gambling, the saying of Almighty Allah is enough for a fearing Muslim:-
"O' you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, Al-A nsab, and Al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Satan's handiwork So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful. Satan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayers. So will you not then abstain? And obey Allah and the Messenger, and beware (of even coming near to drinking, or gambling, or Al-Ansab, or Al-Azlam, etc.) and be afraid of Allah. Then if you turn away, you should know that it is Our Messenger's duty to convey (the Message) in the clearest way.
The non-permissibility will encompass everyone taking any part, whether it be selling, buying, playing or keeping a vending machine. Muslims should refrain from it as much as possible. Because gambling is a process in which a small sum of money is deposited with the greed of possibly attaining a much greater sum, it is very much appealing to the heart and soul, hence it becomes very hard to even want to believe that it is haraam.
May Almighty Allah give us all the ability to act upon His commandments and abstain from His prohibitions, Aameen.