Q335 :Is it permissible for a Muslim to take part in the big lotteries which offer very high prizes, amounting to millions of dollars?

A335 : When you look at Islamic legislation, you realize that the ways in which one person can take the money of another are very limited indeed. They include trade, employment, gifts and inheritance. Beyond this there is not any ground for a person to take someone else's money. When you consider how lotteries are operated, you find that a company or a government offers tickets and numbers for sale. What is sold in this way is neither tangible nor of any value. Because it comes with a chance to be included in the draw, people are willing to exchange these valueless tickets for a considerable amount of money. A ticket in the Canadian or West German lotteries costs hundreds of dollars. This amount of money is exchanged for an entry in the draw, which again remains of no value, unless a prize is won. There is an important principle in Islam which states that it is not permissible to sell something which has no benefit to man. This rule applies to lottery tickets, hence it is not permissible to sell them. What is unlawful to sell is unlawful to buy. Furthermore, a lottery is a method of gambling. All gambling is forbidden in Islam. The prohibition is clearly stated in the Qur'an in the same verse which prohibits all intoxicants. The Qur'anic verse describes intoxicants and gambling as "an impurity of Satan's work." It commands all believers not to come near them and explains that through them Satan tries to create enmity and hatred among the believers. In lotteries, this is clearly apparent. When it is announced that someone has won the jackpot, all those who have spent some of their money to buy tickets to enter the lottery are full of envy. They declare that the winner has taken their money. When you ask them how they tell you that if it was not for the money of those who have participated in the lottery, no prize would have been offered. In addition, the company or the government which runs the lottery does not engage in it for fun, it stands to win large sums of money. What it offers in return is nothing. It is all a gimmick which takes money from a very large number of people and put it in the hands of a few. As such, lotteries are forbidden to run and forbidden to enter.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )