Is Lottery Haram in Islam?

Syed Bukhari

Updated on:

Is Lottery Haram In Islam

Lotteries and gambling are prohibited according to the Quran and Sunnah. This comprehensive guide examines the Islamic ruling on lotteries in detail and provides clear guidance for Muslims.

A lottery is a form of gambling that involves drawing numbers for a chance to win a prize. People buy lottery tickets and enter the draw with the hope that their numbers will be picked so they can claim a large cash prize.

Lotteries may be organized by the state or private companies. They are extremely popular and are played around the world by millions as an easy way to get rich. However, are lotteries allowed for Muslims?

Basic Islamic Ruling about Lottery

Gambling or maisir is strictly prohibited in Islam based on definitive evidence from the Quran and Sunnah:

  • The Quran clearly prohibits gambling in verse 5:90. It is labeled an “abomination of Satan’s doing” that Muslims must avoid.
  • The Prophet (SAW) cursed the one who takes part in gambling, stating it has both evil and benefit but the evil is greater. (Bukhari)
  • Scholars have condemned gambling as a major sin since it involves getting money through chance, not sincere effort.

Based on this evidence, mainstream scholars unanimously rule conventional lotteries as haram and completely forbidden. Playing the lottery is considered gambling and a major sin.

Is Lottery Haram in Islam

Rationale Behind Prohibition of Lotteries

The Islamic prohibition on lotteries rests on very sound wisdom. Here are some key reasons why lotteries are deemed forbidden gambling:

  • It is a zero-sum game – for someone to win, many others have to lose their money. Loss is guaranteed.
  • Winnings are made purely by chance and fluke without any effort or skill. Unearned easy gains corrupt morals.
  • Most players end up becoming addicted and obsessed, harming their families and responsibilities.
  • The desperation to win leads people into using haram money, scams, theft, etc. to buy more tickets.
  • Lotteries prey on the poor and vulnerable who need money most, making them waste the little they have.
  • They create false hope and pipe dreams detached from reality. Time and money wasted on buying tickets could be better utilized.

This shows why Islam takes a strict no-tolerance approach towards lotteries as a societal ill and dangerous form of gambling.

Participating in State-Run Lotteries

Some Muslims argue that since the state runs large lotteries for public welfare, participating in them is permissible. However, this view is incorrect.

Here is the evidence why state-run lotteries are still haram:

  • Government sponsorship or philanthropy does not change the fact that playing the lottery fulfills the definition of gambling that is haram.
  • Public benefit does not justify the means. Lotteries still involve prohibited games of chance. A haram means cannot become halal because of a good end goal.
  • Statistically, most of the revenue from lotteries comes from the poor while public benefit targets the poor. This is unethical and exploitative.
  • Scholars state that donating the prize money to charity instead of personally taking it does not lift the sin of gambling by playing the lottery.

Therefore, playing state-run lotteries is equally forbidden as playing private lotteries in Islam. There are plenty of lawful means for public welfare.

Ruling on New Forms of Lotteries

Modern lotteries are now available in many innovative forms due to technology. What is the Islamic ruling on new types of lotteries?

The prohibition of lotteries is general and encompasses all forms of maisir (gambling) for money through chance. Hence, contemporary scholars extend the haram ruling to new types of lotteries:

  • Online lotteries are haram as they fulfill the conditions that define gambling.
  • Lottery apps that offer instant wins and mini-games are haram as they are new ways of gambling introduced by technology.
  • Cryptocurrency lotteries where chance to win coins and NFTs are haram as gambling applies to all valuable assets.
  • Raffle sales, lucky draws and other contests involving entry fees for prizes based on random luck are prohibited lotteries, even if for charity.
  • Social media giveaways promoting brands that require commenting, liking, sharing to enter into prize draws are haram.

The means and form may evolve but the underlying ruling does not change. Muslims must avoid participating in any lottery-like gambling, whether old or new formats, offline or online.

Occasional Gambling

Some Muslims argue that only regular gambling is haram while participating occasionally in lotteries just for fun is permissible. But this view is incorrect. Evidence why occasional lottery play is forbidden:

  • The Quranic verse banning gambling is general, covering casual and professional gambling. It makes no distinction.
  • The harms of gambling like wasted money and fueling addiction exist even in occasional play.
  • Sin and prohibition are not determined by frequency. Occasional theft, alcohol consumption or lying remain forbidden in Islam.
  • It opens the door to normalizing and gradually increasing haram acts.

Gambling being haram is categorical and absolute, covering both frequent and one-off cases. There is no acceptable level of engaging in what Allah has made forbidden.

Alternative Halal Options for Lotteries

Given the prohibition of lotteries, what are some halal alternatives Muslims can engage in for financial betterment?

  • Investing in halal mutual funds and stock markets based on shared business risk/returns, not pure chance.
  • Crowdfunding for Islamic social causes like building mosques or interest-free loans.
  • Giving general donations to reputable charities through online platforms.
  • Using skills and talents to start lawful businesses or offer professional services.
  • Entering skill-based contests that recognize talent and effort, not just luck.
  • Taking better care of wealth you already have through smart savings and budgeting.

These alternatives allow achieving financial goals and dreams without falling into haram. Patience, hard work and faith are key, not quick fixes like gambling.

Giving Lottery Prizes to Charity

If someone has already won the lottery, what should they do with the prize money according to Islam?

Scholars advise that if a Muslim gains money through a lottery or any other haram means:

  • It is compulsory to give away the full amount in voluntary charity without the intention of reward.
  • The charity given cannot be to close relatives to avoid benefiting from the haram.
  • Cannot use it for masjid or Quran donations specifically, rather general charity.
  • Best to give it discreetly to avoid misleading others into thinking lotteries are allowed.

This removes the ill effects of the haram money and avoids further disobedience. The sin of gambling may have occurred but donating the proceeds purifies one’s wealth.

Working for Lottery Companies

Some Muslims work in lottery companies as ticket sellers, agents, or in other roles that enable gambling. What is the Islamic ruling on this?

Scholars state that directly working to facilitate or promote lotteries, conventional and online, is unlawful prohibited cooperation in sin:

  • Selling lottery tickets enables gambling so the income is haram, even if sales targets are met.
  • Administrative jobs that run and organize the lottery are also haram.
  • Marketing, advertising and promoting lotteries online or offline is haram.
  • Working in lotto shops as cashiers selling tickets is not permissible.
  • Manufacturing and printing lottery tickets is prohibited facilitation.

Any occupation that aids the gambling process is unlawful according to Islamic rulings. One should avoid such jobs and seek righteous halal income. Enabling sin spreads harm in society.

Ruling on Free Lottery Tickets

Sometimes lotteries give free tickets to attract new players. Is it permissible to accept and use such free tickets?

Claiming free tickets is still haram as it involves directly participating in gambling, even if no money was spent.

  • The lure of free tickets aims to initiate people into becoming regular gamblers. Accepting them supports this manipulation.
  • Prize money from a free ticket will still be haram since the means of acquisition was forbidden gambling.
  • If forced or unable to avoid, discard the ticket discreetly without claiming any winnings from it.

Free tickets provide a gateway into full gambling addiction. Using something free of charge does not justify partaking in haram where the sin is equallyforbidden.

Ruling on Attending Lottery Draws

Some lotteries organize public draws where the winning numbers are selected and announced. Is it permissible to attend these just as spectators?

Simply attending lottery draws as an observer without buying any tickets is still judged as haram by scholars due to the following reasons:

  • It normalized and endorses gambling which is strictly prohibited in Islam.
  • Spectators get drawn into the hype and temptation to participate. Merely watching may lead one to play later on.
  • It wastes precious time to engage in a frivolous activity prohibited by Allah.
  • Creates the false perception that playing the lottery is exciting entertainment.

Attending lottery events fuels a culture that is against Islamic teachings. One should avoid going even if no participation, as the environment damages one’s faith and morals.

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Advising Family Against Lotteries

If a family member plays the lottery, how should they be advised gently to stop this practice?

Highlight the Quranic verse prohibiting gambling and remind that scholars state lotteries are included.

  • Kindly share stories, statistics and news reflecting the harms and dangers of lottery gambling.
  • Suggest more rewarding halal goals and projects the money wasted on tickets could be used for instead.
  • Offer to collaborate on halal business ideas and investments.
  • Inspire with verses of Quran and hadiths on having tawakkul trusting Allah’s bounty.
  • Avoid scolding or arguments. Gently persuade them out of concern for their wellbeing.
  • Make sincere dua for their guidance.

With wisdom and patience, family members playing lotteries can be guided to give up this practice for the sake of Allah.

You can also read about DISOBEDIENCE TO PARENTS

FAQs

Q: Is it permissible to accept lottery winnings from a non-Muslim relative?

It is not permissible to accept or use any wealth or gift that originated from haram gambling winnings, regardless of whether the person is Muslim or non-Muslim. The money should be disposed of discreetly.

Q: Can Muslims work in computerized lottery companies since they don’t directly handle the lottery process?

Directly facilitating the haram lottery operations in any capacity, including computerized roles like software development and systems support, is not permissible in Islam.

Q: Are sweepstake contests allowed where an organizer rewards special prize draws for purchasing products?

Any sweepstakes or contests that require a purchase for chance to win random prizes are a form of lottery gambling and haram. The product price should not include entry into any gambling.

Q: If someone has already bought a lottery ticket, must they destroy it without checking if they won?

Scholars advise that if one has already fallen into the sin of purchasing a lottery ticket, they must not claim any prize won. The ticket should be destroyed or disposed of discreetly.

Q: Can Muslims work in lottery retail shops as cashiers or clerks?

Working directly in lottery retail outlets selling tickets over the counter is not permissible, as this facilitates the haram. One should find lawful employment instead that does not enable sin.

Conclusion

In conclusion, mainstream Islamic scholarship conclusively rules conventional lottery and all its modern forms as haram gambling. Muslims must avoid playing the lottery, facilitating lotteries or benefiting from lottery proceeds in any way to avoid Allah’s displeasure. There are plenty of halal alternatives one can engage in for financial success with patience and hard work. The harms of lottery gambling are evident, and wise believers should heed Allah’s prohibition for their own good.