What is considered Gambling in Islam?
Gambling is the engagement in a game of chance or bets that has uncertain outcomes for financial gains. It became a norm in society to gamble in many type of games for entertainment purposes even if there is a risk at stake. This risk can be minor or major but in both cases they’re considered a sin according to the teachings of Islam. Gambling can include casino games, lottery tickets, card games, buy or donate to enter contests (if buying/donating with the intentions of winning), raffle tickets, betting on sports, personal bets, etc. Sadly, there are many Muslims who get involved in this sinful act either carelessly or unknowingly.
Harms of Gambling
Allah has forbidden gambling and has clearly stated how harmful it is: “O believers! Al Khamra (intoxicants) and Al Mayser (gambling) and Al Ansab (animals sacrificed for idols) and Al Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork. So avoid them in order that you might be successful. Satan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants and gambling and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So, will you not then abstain?” (Chapter Al-Maidah, 90-91). I am sure that if you experienced gambling at its highest levels you will admit to the fact that it leads to animosity and hatred between the people involved. And this will lead to loss of family/friends, violence and possibly even suicide or murder. Also, the amount of homeless people (especially in the Las Vegas strip) is increasing every year due to money/wealth loss in casino gambling.
Destiny in Islam
Gambling or betting is a waste of time and money which is the opposite of Islamic teachings that advise us to use our time and money wisely. If people put more time and small amounts of their personal savings into helping the poor, orphans and needy, then we wouldn’t have this high percentage of poverty around the world. You know the phrase “what goes around comes around”; this is actually true and it is part of the Islamic teachings, so when you help others (instead of wasting on selfish desires) then Allah will help you and offer you the means to fulfill your needs. This is why I feel sad when I see a person purchasing a lottery ticket hoping that he/she becomes rich one day. If people understood that wealth (fortunes and misfortunes) was written for them since birth then they would not have consumed their precious time and money on something that would not get them anywhere. Qadar (Allah’s destiny chosen for you) is not just a concept but a true law that exists for all people and it is part of the 6 pillars of eman (belief). The prophet Mohammed (prayers and peace be upon him) said: “Verily your creation is on this wise. The constituents of one of you are collected for forty days in his mother’s womb in the form of blood, after which it becomes a clot of blood in another period of forty days. Then it becomes a lump of flesh and forty days later Allah sends His angel to it with instructions about four things, so the angel writes down his livelihood, his death, his deeds, his fortune and misfortune” (Sahih Muslim). Applying this hadith (saying of the Prophet) to the case of a gambler, if he/she is predestined to earn ten million dollars in his/her life time, then he/she will surely earn that amount through a good and halal (non-prohibited) method. Unfortunately, gamblers choose to earn that same amount in a way that does not please Allah and will bring a curse on their wealth and family (and Allah knows best).