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is lottery haram

Is the Lottery Haram? What You Need to Know

When thinking about whether something is forbidden or not, it can get complicated. Sometimes the words seem clear, but how religious leaders interpret them can be confusing, especially if they contradict each other. And what about people who participate in something that is supposedly forbidden, does that make them evil?

If you consider the lottery as a type of gambling, then it is haram because Allah forbids Muslims from all forms of addiction. Muslims who play the lottery say that it is not. They also consider it a form of contributing to a charity since some of the winnings go to causes such as education.

If you are interested in learning why the lottery is considered haram, how that affects whether Muslims can play the lottery, and what other religions have to say about gambling, read on.

Why Is a Lottery Considered Haram?

The reason the lottery is haram is that the Koran says so. There is no ambiguity in 5:90-91:

“O you who believe! Wine, gambling, altars, and divining arrows are filth from the work of Satan. Therefore, refrain from it, so that you may be successful. Satan wishes only to plant enmity and malice between you through wine and gambling, and to prevent you from the remembrance of Allah and from Salāh (prayer). Would you, then, abstain?”

Not only does it specially mention gambling, but it also explains why it is a sin. These are three reasons given:

  • Satan uses gambling to cause division and hatred between people.
  • It keeps a Muslim from staying focused on Allah.
  • That time could be spent in prayer.

Gambling is seen as a major problem in Islam, linked with alcohol as something that can become an addiction. Along with seeing it as Satan’s work, the Prophet Muhammad saw that addiction could lead to numerous societal ills.

Not only would a gambling addiction cause an individual to avoid prayer, losing would lead to hard feelings between players. A gambler can lose so much that he cannot feed his family or go into debt.

Is a Lottery Considered Gambling?

Some of us think gambling is something you do with dice, cards, or a roulette wheel. Playing a lottery seems more like making a donation or paying a tax with the hope of getting back more than you paid.

Gambling is generally defined as a game where you risk something of value (money) in the hope of gaining a prize (usually more money). In gambling, the game should contain elements of chance. In 21, the cards are dealt randomly. In Mega Millions, great effort is made to ensure the balls are randomly selected.

Based on any reasonable definition of gambling, the lottery is a game of chance where you hope to win more than you paid to play.

What If the Winnings Go to a Charity?

Some people wonder if the Lottery can be harmful if the proceeds go to charity. However, that cannot be justified based on two principles:

  1. Donate directly. Not all proceeds in a lottery go to a charity. As a matter of fact, at least half of the money taken in goes back to the winners. If you wish to donate to a charity, do so directly.
  2. The ends don’t justify the means. Just because the money is going to a good cause does not mean you are not engaging in sinful behavior.

Can a Muslim Accept Winnings From a Lottery?

Let’s say that you play the lottery, hit the jackpot, and want to give some of your winnings to a practicing Muslim friend. Can your friend accept the money?

If you ask your friend to take the money, you are putting him in a difficult situation. On the one hand, the money could be used to pay bills, provide money for a relative, or put money into a scholarship fund for a child. However, you are asking your friend to take money that came from an activity considered sinful by his religion.

Can a Muslim Sell Lottery Tickets?

A Muslim will often buy a convenience store because the investment is low, and he has the skill set to run a store. So what to do about the fact that convenience stores sell several forbidden items—alcohol and lotteries?

Some owners argue that since both are legal to sell and the sales are only a small portion of total income, they can do so to have a successful store and make enough money to provide for their family.

Even so, they struggle with selling items considered sinful. In some cases, owners opt not to sell them. In other places, such as Chicago, organizations such as the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago are encouraging Muslim-owned stores from selling alcohol and turn to provide something that is often in short supply in neighborhoods that rely on convenience stores—fresh produce.

These are isolated situations, however. Selling lottery tickets is haram, but many owners do so anyway.

Are All Lotteries Haram?

This is another sticky situation. On the one hand, associating with a sinful activity is imitating gamblers, which, according to the Hadith, is sinful. On the other hand, the Hadith is not considered holy by all Muslims. Therefore, many Muslims participate in lotteries that do not involve the exchange of money.

Players of free lotteries don’t consider them gambling because you might win, but there is no price to enter. Most of these lotteries can be found on the internet. Sites like these will list a variety of free lotteries. These contests typically require you to give your email and then watch advertisements for an opportunity to “win” a jackpot.

What Do Other Religions Say About the Lottery?

In the United States, southern states were among the last to adopt the lottery, and many of them argued that a lottery would sanction gambling. So what does the Christian Bible say about gambling?

The Bible has plenty to say about money. In Matthew 19:24, Jesus famously said that it would be easier “for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Other verses speak about “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10), and in Exodus 20:17, we are told, “you shall not covet your neighbor’s house.”

However, the Bible never specifically says that gambling is wrong or sinful. Still, some Christian leaders caution against gambling because it could lead people to covet material possessions or commit other sins. Others argue that one should not gamble because people should trust God to take care of them. If you wish, you can follow a discussion about this on this YouTube video from Cornerstone Television Network.

Jewish religious leaders take a similar view. The Talmud does not forbid it, but it does say that a gambler (”someone who plays with dice”) cannot give testimony in a trial. However, lotteries and similar endeavors are not forbidden in the Jewish religion.

Buddhism also has no specific precepts against gambling. It is discouraged mainly because winning large sums of money that you have not earned negatively affects your karma.

Bottom Line

Although none of the other major religions forbid gambling, they do not encourage it. In Islam, however, gambling is considered haram, or a sin. Playing a lottery where one has to pay to play is forbidden, even if some of the proceeds will go toward a charitable cause, such as education.

When thinking about whether something is forbidden or not, it can get complicated. Sometimes the words seem clear, but how religious leaders interpret them can be confusing, especially if they contradict each other. And what about people who participate in something that is supposedly forbidden, does that make them evil?

Is lottery haram

Is playing lotto haram?

Mu’ meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah’s Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)

One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

Assala o Alaikum Brother,

May Allah bless you with wisdom and guidance.

1. Is playing lotto haram? Can you support with Qur`an and Sunnah?

2. Recently a pakistani cab driver was in news for his generosity after winning over 32 million dollars in USA . He became a better person after winning this lotto. Many muslim friends are of the view that you are not harming anybody nor yourself. If it is haram because it is a game of chance then all the games like football, cricket etc. are also somewhat a game of chance, will they be haram based on the above mentioned principle?

Jazakulallah khairun.

(There may be some grammatical and spelling errors in the above statement. The forum does not change anything from questions, comments and statements received from our readers for circulation in confidentiality.)

Is lotto lawful

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.

Q-1: Is playing lotto haram? Can you support with Qur`an and Sunnah?

Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 5 Surah Maidah verses 90-91:

O you who have believed! Khamr (all types of intoxicants), Maisir (all forms of gambling), idols, and divining arrows are all abominable works of Shaitaan; therefore, stay (far) away from these so that you may attain success. Indeed, Shaitaan seeks to sow enmity and hatred among you by means of khamr (intoxicants) and maisir (gambling), and to prevent you from the Remembrance of Allah and from Salaah. Will you not, then, abstain from these things?

The scholars of Islam are absolutely unanimous in their opinion that lotto is a clear manifestation of maisir or gambling, and absolutely all forms and manifestations of gambling are prohibited in Islam. If one reads the above Command of the Lord Most High, one will realize that the All-Wise Lord has not used the term Haraam (prohibited) for intoxicants and gambling, but the term used in the Quran to signify prohibition is fajtanebu meaning stay far far away from it; which in the opinion of the good scholars implies the absolute hatred and detest of the Lord of these two abominable works of the Shaytaan!

The flesh of swine, blood, carrion, etc. are declared haraam by the Lord in His Divine Revelations, but if a believer happens to be near or pass by these haraam products, there is no harm and no sin. But for intoxicants and gambling, the Lord Most High has Commanded the believers to stay far-far away from these, which clearly signifies and implies that not only is it absolutely forbidden for the believers to indulge in these two abominations, it is a grave sin in the Sight of Allah to even approach or be near them!

Q-2: Recently a pakistani cab driver was in news for his generosity after winning over 32 million dollars in USA . He became a better person after winning this lotto. Many muslim friends are of the view that you are not harming anybody nor yourself. If it is haram because it is a game of chance then all the games like football, cricket etc. are also somewhat a game of chance, will they be haram based on the above mentioned principle?

First and foremost, it is not as if cricket or football are acts of worship or highly recommended activities in Islam; but if one occasionally plays them as a sport, or amusement, or with the intention to improve ones physical healththere is no harm and there is enough room in the approved way of life for occasional lawful entertainment and amusement.

Secondly, if one earns or wins something from a source which is clearly declared as unlawful in Islam, regardless of how generously one spends or distributes this unlawfully earned wealth, he will have no reward for his generosity in the Just Court of Allah Subhanah; for Allah Subhanah is indeed Good and Pure and He only accepts that which is good and pure. But without an iota of a doubt, the person will have to give a full account of how exactly he earned his wealth in the Majestic and Supreme Presence of the Lord Most High on an Inevitable and Tumultuous Day of Judgment!

Fiqh-us-Sunnah Fiqh 3.101a

Sub: Giving What is Unlawful as Sadaqah

Allah does not accept Sadaqah if it is from what is unlawful: The Messenger of Allah (saws) said: “O people! Allah is Good and accepts only good, and He has instructed the believers through the Messengers. Allah, the Mighty and the Majestic, says: ‘O Messengers! Consume what is good and work righteously. I am well-acquainted with what you do’ [Surah 23 al-Mu’minum 51].” The Lord also Declares: ‘O you who believe! Consume of the good that We have provided for you’ [Surah 2 al-Baqarah 172]. Then [the Messenger of Allah (saws)] mentioned a man who had traveled for a long time, unkempt and covered in dust, he raised his hands to the heavens (and cried): ‘O my Lord! O my Lord!’ His food was unlawful, his drink was unlawful, his clothing was unlawful, and what he had provided to sustain himself with was also unlawful. How could his invocation be accepted?” (Related by Muslim).

The Messenger of Allah (saws) said: “If one gives a date bought from honestly earned money (and Allah accepts only good), Allah accepts it in His Right Hand and enlarges [its rewards] for its owner until it becomes as big as a mountain!”

Related by al-Bukhari.

Thirdly, your statement: He became a better person after winning this lotto. Many muslim friends are of the view that you are not harming anybody nor yourself.

Beloved brother, apart from all the implications of earning wealth from unlawful and haraam means, the natural emotion of greed dictates that a person who earns such obnoxious amounts of unlawful wealth will spend the rest of his life trying to hit just one more jackpot! With absolute and utter disregard to what is lawful and unlawful in the Sight of Allah, this person will approach every manifestation and depot of gambling to double and re-double his wealth! Such a person may or not bring harm upon himself or his loved ones in the short and transient life of this world, but Allah is our witness, without an iota of a doubt he will definitely bring harm upon himself in the Hereafter!

The above is simply the case of one who has won the lotto or earned wealth from unlawful means; but one who desires or wishes to make his $1.00 into a million dollars through unlawful means like gambling will gamble a proportion of his hard-earned money on every lotto game, lottery tickets, casinos, etc. in the hope of one day striking a jackpot; money which would be better spent on the upkeep of his family. Such a person not only harms himself, but undoubtedly also harms his loved ones!

My dear and beloved brother, I could go on and on relating not only the Divine Guidance from the Quran and Sunnah which declares gambling unlawful, but also relate through logic that nothing good can be derived from anything which has been so specifically declared as absolutely unlawful and prohibited by Allah and His Messenger (saws). Regardless of how fair-seeming and attractive a proposition of what has been clearly declared as unlawful by Allah and His Messenger (saws) might seem to the untrained and unguided eye in the short-term, Allah is our witness brother, it will bring nothing but ruin and penury to those who indulge in it in the long-term!; and it is only for our protection that the Lord Most Merciful has Commanded the believers to stay far far away from such abominations of the Shaytaan as intoxicants and gambling.

If one trusts, obeys, and follows the guidance and commands of Allah and His Messenger (saws), one can be assured of never ever being misled; but if one believes, obeys and follows any other guidance, other than that of Allah and His Messenger (saws), one can be assured of being led astray.

Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me alone. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.

Your brother and well wisher in Islam,

Is playing lotto haram? – Encyclopedia of searchable Islamic Questions & Answers – Islamhelpline