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Q 13: What is the ruling on the National Lottery in which millions of Francs can be won as a prize?

A: Lotteries and the like are luck games which Shaykh Muhammad Rashid Rida (may Allah be merciful to him) described saying: "A lottery consists of a large amount of money being collected by a government, an association, or a company from thousands of people, for example, 100,000 pounds, and then a large portion of it, such as 10,000 for example, is given to a small number of those who gave the money, 100 for example, divided among them by means of gambling, and the rest is then kept by the body that collected it. Small tickets, like banknotes, known as lottery tickets are printed, each of them priced at 1.00 pound, for example. The 10,000 pounds that is given out as a profit for the lottery ticket buyers, is distributed in shares according the winning ticket numbers. (Part No. 15; Page No. 201) A number is printed on each lottery ticket and the amount of money that each of the top 10 winners are expected to win. The rest of the prize money is divided evenly among the remaining 90 from the 100, and their numbers are arranged in order, in the same manner that was practiced in the pre-Islamic practice of Azlam (divining arrows). They are chosen through a process known as Sahb (drawing), in which small pieces of metal on which lottery numbers from 1 to 100,000 are inscribed - if that is the number of the lottery tickets - are put into a round metal container, which is like the pre-Islamic Qadah (a container in which the Arabs used to put the arrows when practicing divining). Each time the container is shaken, one of the numbers is drawn out. On the day of the draw, the container is shaken as many times as the number of the winners. The first number to be drawn, no matter what the number is, is that of the winner of the first prize and gets the biggest share of the lottery prize money. The second number is the second prize winner and wins a lesser share than the first. This process is repeated until all the prize winning numbers have been drawn, at which point the draw ends and all the other participants have lost." It is clear from this picture that the ruling on this is that it is Haram (prohibited), as it is included under wrongful consumption of people’s wealth and is a form of gambling. Allah (Exalted be He) says (what means): Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly except it be a trade amongst you, by mutual consent. (Part No. 15; Page No. 202) The word "trade" mentioned in the above Ayah (Qur’anic verse) includes all transactions that are conducted on the basis of lawful contracts. This is not the case in the game of lottery, as it only consumes wealth unlawfully and there is no real compensation or benefit provided through such a game. Stressing the prohibition of gambling, Allah (Exalted be He) says: O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), and gambling, and Al-Ansâb, and Al-Azlâm (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaitan’s (Satan) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful. Shaitân (Satan) wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allâh and from As-Salât (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain? Among the prohibited things that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) mentions in the above Ayah is gambling, which is linked with Khamr (intoxicants), which is also Haram. Allah thus commands that it should be avoided. The imperative mode in the Ayah denotes that it is Wajib (obligatory). Allah is therefore stating that gambling is an abomination of Satan’s handiwork and He reminds the believers that prosperity lies in avoiding it, and provides evidence that those who practice it incur His Wrath. Anything that incurs Allah’s Wrath is Haram. He explains that it can cause enmity and hatred among people and turn them away from Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah) and Salah (Prayer). The Ayah ends with a rhetorical question implying a request that encourages people to refrain from gambling: So, will you not then abstain? `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) understood the Ayah, because after hearing it, (Part No. 15; Page No. 203) he said, "We abstain. We abstain." It is known that lotteries are a form of gambling, and the Ayah above is evidence of its prohibition. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.