Ruling on playing some electronic games with the intention of winning a prize without spending any money
Praise be to Allah.
The basic principle concerning games is that they are permissible, so long as they do not involve anything haraam, such as causing one to fail to do something obligatory or to do something forbidden such as uncovering the ‘awrah, engaging in foul speech, causing harm to others, and so on.
But if playing these games and contests is done on the basis of paying money that is taken by the winner, that is not permissible except in archery contests, horse or camel races, and similar games.
That is because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “There should be no (money) prizes for competitions except in archery, camel-racing and horse-racing.”
Narrated by at-Tirmidhi, 1700; Abu Dawood, 2574. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani.
In this hadeeth the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) stated that giving money is not permissible for any kinds of competition or games except in these three cases, because perfecting these skills is something that helps in jihad for the sake of Allah.
Hence some of the scholars added to them everything that helps in jihad in material terms and otherwise, such as competitions for memorising the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah, and competitions in airplanes, ships and boats, and so on.
Al-Khattaabi said: Giving prizes is not appropriate except in horse and camel races, and similar contests, and in archery contests. That is because these matters are preparation for fighting the enemy, and offering prizes for them encourages people to prepare for jihad.
As for contests in matters that do not come under the heading of preparing for war or strengthening oneself for jihad, accepting prize money for them is haraam and is not permissible.
End quote from Ma‘aalimas-Sunan, 2/255
If the prize money comes from both competitors then it is gambling, which is haraam.
If the prize money is given by a third person, or by one of them and not the other, then it is haraam, even if it is not called gambling.
An-Nawawi said: rather it is gambling if it is stipulated that money be paid by one of the two parties. But if one of them is offering to give money (to his opponent) if he is defeated, and will keep it if he defeats him, then it is not gambling, but it is an agreement to a contest that does not involve fighting skills, so it is not valid.
End quote from Rawdatat-Taalibeen, 11/225
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: If one of the two players, or an outsider, gives the prize, it is forbidden nevertheless, except in the case of something that is beneficial such as races or archery, as it says in the hadeeth: “There should be no (money) prizes for competitions except in archery, camel-racing and horse-racing”, because spending money on things that are of no benefit in either religious or worldly terms is not allowed, even if it is not gambling.
End quote from Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa, 32/223
To sum up:
It is not permissible for you to play this game in return for money, even if you yourself do not pay anything, because playing games for material compensation is haraam in all cases, except in cases in which Islam makes an exception and cases that are similar to that.
And Allah knows best.