Mon 21 Jm2 1435 - 21 April 2014
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Buying lottery tickets

Does buying lottery tickets fall into the category of gambling which is haram?  What response would you give to people who claim to be only occassional gamblers?

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked:  

“Are the lotteries or raffles which some charities organize to raise funds for their activities in the educational, medical or social work fields, permissible according to sharee’ah?”

 He answered:

 Lotteries and raffles are other names for gambling, which is haraam according to the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and the consensus of the scholars. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), and gambling, and Al Ansaab (stone altars for sacrifices to idols, etc.), and Al Azlaam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaytaan’s (Satan’s) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful.

Shaytaan (Satan) wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allaah and from As Salaah (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain?” [al-Maa’idah 5:90-91]

 It is not permissible for the Muslims to engage in any kind of gambling at all, whether the money collected from gambling is to spent on charitable projects or otherwise, because it is evil and forbidden, as indicated by the general meaning of the evidence (daleel), and because the earnings derived from gambling are among the kinds of earnings which we must avoid and beware of. And Allaah is the Source of strength.   (Fataawa Islamiyyah, 4/442)  

Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen was asked: 

What is the ruling on taking part in lotteries, which means that a person buys a ticket and if he is lucky he gets a lot of money, knowing that this person intends to use that money for Islamic projects and to help the mujaahideen so that they will benefit from that? 

He answered: 

What the questioner describes, where a person buys a ticket then if he is lucky – as he says – he gets a lot of money, comes under the heading of gambling, of which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), and gambling, and Al Ansaab (stone altars for sacrifices to idols, etc.), and Al Azlaam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaytaan’s (Satan’s) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful.

Shaytaan (Satan) wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allaah and from As-Salaah (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain?

And obey Allaah and the Messenger (Muhammad), and beware (of even coming near to drinking or gambling or Al Ansaab, or Al Azlaam) and fear Allaah. Then if you turn away, you should know that it is Our Messenger’s duty to convey (the Message) in the clearest way” [al-Maa’idah 5:90-91] 

This gambling – which is any transaction in which a person may win or lose, and he does not know whether he will be a winner or a loser – is all haraam. Indeed, it is one of the major sins, and its abhorrent nature is no secret when one realizes that Allaah mentions it in conjunction with idol-worship, alcohol and azlaam (arrows for seeking luck or decision). Whatever benefits may be hoped for from gambling pale into insignificance beside the harm that it causes. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“They ask you (O Muhammad) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: ‘In them is a great sin, and (some) benefits for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit.’”

[al-Baqarah 2:219]

 Think about this aayah, where benefits (manaafi’) are mentioned in the plural, and sin (ithm) is mentioned in the singular. Allaah did not say, “In it are many sins and (some) benefits for men”, rather He said (interpretation of the meaning): “a great sin”. This is an indication that the benefits, no matter how numerous they may be, are insignificant when compared with this great sin; the great sin far outweighs them. So its sin is greater than its benefits, no matter what they are.  (Fataawa Islamiyyah, 4/441)

 With regard to a person’s saying that he only gambles occasionally, this is like one who says that he only commits adultery occasionally, or he only steals occasionally, or he only lies occasionally. Does the fact that he commits that haraam action only rarely means that it is not a sin and that he is not exposed to the wrath of Allaah? How does he know that this rare action will not develop into something that is done more frequently, until it becomes a habit? In fact this is what usually happens, especially in the case of those who are afflicted by gambling. He should fear Allaah and abstain from that which Allaah has forbidden to him.

 And Allaah knows best.

Islam Q&A
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
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