Gambling in Islam is not specifically prohibited, but it is also not welcomed in most Islamic societies. This is mostly because Islam was born in a cultural context where gambling was unheard of, and therefore no specific guidance was needed for this subject.
However, what has made the Muslim community more cautious about gambling than other religions is that one cannot dismiss its addictive potentials. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “O you group of people who believe with your tongues whilst disbelieving with your hearts! Do not gamble even with something insignificant, because among you there are some who take away others’ money by cheating; games of chance should not enter into any person’s home.” [Tirmidhi]
Since many Muslims associate lotteries and casinos as forms of gambling that should be avoided to protect against their potentially addictive nature, it can cause problems if one wishes to participate in them strictly for charity purposes only. Many scholars advise Muslims intending on donating to charities through such activities or companies that deal with them (like lottery tickets) to first seek advice from an imam or scholar before participating to avoid giving anything haram without realizing it since there may be hidden elements within these activities which make them impermissible according to shariah law.
Although gambling is considered a grey area, it is widely accepted among Muslims. The government allows it to take place, but only in casinos. It is not allowed at home or for individuals. However, it’s also considered a basic human right that the state must respect, protect and fulfill. The UN Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to enjoy himself in any way that does not harm others.” Many forms have been practiced throughout history – dice games, card games such as online blackjack, lotteries, etc., which have all served as means of entertainment and recreation before being legalized for various purposes such as raising revenue for the state treasury or funding science projects, etc.
Gambling can be seen as part of man’s desire for stimulation and excitement – however, due to its potential risks. Islam emphasizes moderation even in seemingly harmless activities. Wherever negative aspects are associated with something, Islam encourages us to avoid them altogether instead of taking a moderate approach, thus creating more harm than good (i.e., playing golf during Ramadan). It should also be mentioned that Islam prohibits betting on anything involving chance because this involves pure speculation (which is haraam according to Muslim scholars). In contrast, other forms like horse racing involve some skill which makes it allowable under Islamic law despite money transactions.
It’s important to remember that although Muslims gamble, it is different from the Western concept. So, if you go to a casino or a race track in a Muslim country, you will see people buying lottery tickets and placing bets on horse racing with cash. But at most casinos, they won’t have roulette tables or slot machines for obvious reasons – these are seen as games of pure chance where the odds aren’t fixed by skill or knowledge. In many Muslim countries, playing cards have been banned too because it’s seen as morally inappropriate, although people still play them privately. So there isn’t that much compared to what we would regard as ‘the casino experience’ in Islamic culture.
But even so, some Muslims gamble. I think this has changed over time: traditionally, Islam was very hostile to gambling but nowadays, especially among younger people who may not be religious themselves but whose parents are observant Muslims, attitudes towards it seem more relaxed than ever before. And those younger generations growing up with their eyes more open to other cultures and societies around the world might well feel less constrained than previous ones about such topics.
In conclusion, if you’re a Muslim and plan on gambling, make sure you do it on a casino that follows Islamic rules. Do not gamble more than the amount of money you can afford to lose, and make sure to pay zakat (one of the five pillars) for your winnings.
Muslims for Bush was created during the 2004 presidential campaign and has since turned into a blog about the Islamic faith. We discuss Islam and various topics related to the religion. Sign up for our newsletter for weekly updates!
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