Imam Q&A – What about Gambling?

Muslim American’s Imam Q&A

Our Question this month came via one of our Facebook users. If you have a question for one of our Imams please send a message via Facebook or send an email via our CONTACT US form We pledge that your anonymity will be preserved!

“Salaam Alaikum, I was wondering about the prohibition of gambling in Islam and my question has two parts. Firstly, games of chance like card and dice games where there is money involved are clearly haraam but what about games of skill. Is it still considered gambling and haraam for a Muslim to pay to play a carnival game where one must use skill to hit targets or knock over pins in order to win a prize?

Second part of the question is regarding lottery. Some brothers and sisters have said that lottery is not haraam because it benefits the school system and would be considered charity. Is it haraam to participate in a lottery like this?”

In the name of Allah the Compassionate the Merciful

Praise is to Allah and the prayer and peace are upon Sayyedina Muhammad the Messenger of Allah.

gambling chips are stacked next to some playing cards
Gambling is a clear haraam issue.

First Question:

The two cases mentioned in the question are considered gambling, whether it is a chance gambling or a skill gambling. The reason lies in the money used by the player who employs his skill in getting a prize. If he uses his skill to get a prize without paying certain amount of money, this is acceptable because the prize in this case is like a donation, a gift, and a reward. In this respect, scholars say: {It is prohibited, by consensus, to play any game that involves gambling, in which someone gains and the other one loses because it is gambling that Allah ordered us to avoid in the following ayah:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالأَنصَابُ وَالأَزْلاَمُ رِجْسٌ مِّنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

(المائدة: 90)

O ye who believe! wine and the game of hazard and idols and divining arrows are only an abomination of Satan’s handiwork. So shun each one of them that you may prosper.

He who repeats doing this will be considered unjust and his testimony will not be accepted}.

Second Question:

It is not acceptable to gamble and spend gambling gains on charitable causes such as

Gambling is a clear haraam and the like because for us the end does not justify the means. Allah SWT asked this ummah to worship Him by the “end” and worship Him by the “means;” this is based on the Ayah:

ادْعُ إِلِى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ (النحل: 125)

Call to the Path of your Lord

This is the “end” worship, but it must not be as we like; therefore, Allah SWT said about the “means”:

بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ

with wisdom and fine admonition

So, we worship Allah by the “means” as well.

The direct answer for this question is that Allah SWT said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَنفِقُواْ مِن طَيِّبَاتِ مَا كَسَبْتُمْ وَمِمَّا أَخْرَجْنَا لَكُم مِّنَ الأَرْضِ وَلاَ تَيَمَّمُواْ الْخَبِيثَ مِنْهُ تُنفِقُونَ وَلَسْتُم بِآخِذِيهِ إِلاَّ أَن تُغْمِضُواْ فِيهِ (البقرة: 267)

O believers, spend of the good you have earned and of that which We have brought out of the earth for you. And do not intend the bad of it for your spending; while you would never take it yourselves, except you closed an eye on it.

On the other hand, the Messenger of Allah (SAAS) said in the agreed upon hadith: “Whoever donates the worth of a date out of good (halal) earning – and Allah does not accept but the good (halal) – Allah will accept it and invest it for him in the same way as you take care of a pony until it becomes like a mountain” (narrated by Al Bukhari and Muslim).

And Allah is most knowledgeable.

Sheikh Bassam Obeid

Charlotte, NC

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