Certain dealings or actions are often attractive and even promising, whereas in appearance they are deceptive. Like the mirage in the desert, its look and its image promise to the most cunning of men, water, fruits and shade. But, coming near it, one discovers that it was only a deception. The Qur’an cites the example of the mirage to explain the false hope of the unbelievers: “But the unbelievers-their deeds are like a mirage in sandy deserts, which the man parched with thirst mistakes for water; until when he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing: but he finds Allah (ever) with him, and Allah will pay him his account.” (Surah 24 An-Noor verse 39).
Satan’s promises for usurious transactions and games of chance are mirages which lead us to the tunnels of darkness. All decisions or actions are judged according to their conclusion: the final result of the initiative taken. The instability of the system of usury and the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases only confirm the Qur’an’s warnings. As regards games of chance, the Qur’an sets itself up as a truthful and concrete benchmark. The consequences of the development of games of chance in our country or elsewhere only increase our faith in our Sacred Book. Having said that, the Muslim Holy Book stands fast once more and shows that its miracle is very much alive. God manifests Himself through such miracle.
The prohibition of Games of Chance
As regards the prohibition of games of chance, one does not have to go far to seek. Allah Ta’ala has stated: “O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows are an abomination-of Satan’s handiwork. Eschew such (abomination) that he may prosper.” (Surah 5 Al Maïdah verse 90). In actual fact, the Qur’an mentions games of chance along with wine (Khamr). According to hadiths, wine, by definition, encompasses all kinds of drugs and narcotic substances. The Prophet of Allah (PBUH) has said: “All drunkenness is called wine (Khamr)” (Nasai). The analogy of mentioning games of chance in the whole set up is the fact that they have the same effect as drugs. Once a person starts playing, he becomes accustomed to it and thereafter cannot do without it. Only Allah Ta’ala knows how many men have sacrificed their married life and ruined their way of living because of debts incurred in games of chance. In another instance, Allah Ta’ala has stated: “They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: In them is great sin, and some benefit, for men, but the sin is greater than the benefit” (Surah 2 Al Baqarah verse 219).
The pros and cons of wine and gambling
In all justice, the Qur’an clearly explains that there are well and truly advantages and benefits as regards wine and gambling. In this way, the Qur’an does not exclude the fact that narcotic products can help medical treatment and facilitate operations. Games of chance may alleviate the property of many families. State revenue can increase by way of taxes on wine and games of chance. However, in actual fact, all this speculation is but a mirage.
Allah Ta’ala has decided to create the good and the bad. In the art of His Creation, we find fish in water as well as sea urchins and venomous creatures. He has established angelic standards on the one hand and satanic behavior on the other. It is the divine decree that man must choose between two parts: “And shown him the two highways?” (Surah 90 Al Balad Verse 10). Allah Ta’ala has established two ways whereby man can satisfy his needs: the halaal way and the haraam way. A game of chance is the illicit (haram) way of satisfying one’s needs.
Advantages v/s Disadvantages
Although the Shariah holds the absolute legislative power, God being wise, His legislation is full of wisdom. Sometimes, he tells us and explains His wisdom. But the Supreme Master wants something that we submit ourselves to Him without any explanation. With respect to wine and gambling, Allah Ta’ala has very clearly explained that there are benefits but that the ill-effects are more harmful. Jobs created in that industry and taxes levied thereon are no doubt beneficial but the evils of games of chance far exceed the advantages. The negative effects on the savings of the people are enormous. The big prize is a lure or very simply an illusion. Let us have together a look at the figures in order to better understand the Qur’anic injunction.
Two years ago, there was no lotto. So, the state chose to introduce the lotto with livable tax. Young and old are tempted to play. Worse, the lotto is more accessible than the other games of chance. Every shop around the street corners is ready to become a free game access. But the state is aware of the evil and has therefore limited its access to 18-year olds and above. Pool money of up to 15 or 25 million rupees attracts many people. People even queue up at the shops. Our brethren and colleagues also queue up. Some are already dreaming of striking a pose with their cheque before the press. And all this does not make us bat an eyelid?
Value of tickets sold less the pool money = profit for the Lotto Company = loss of people’s money.
The people are therefore conscious of the fact that the lotto company receives a very high profit. The state, on its part, pockets an increase in the games tax. So much of the additional tax is received that the State is even proposing an increase in the number of laureates to more than fifty! Those who queue up at the ships entertain the hope that someday they will win the lottery. Wallahi, they have already lost and are themselves lost in an illusion. It is the lotto company and the state who are always the winners. As regards the company, it receives more than it pays in the pool money and the state is happy with cash revenue. The people lose what the company draws as profit and also what the State has levied tax upon.
The loss is really very considerable compared to what some people have pocketed by winning. Now read this verse of the Qur’an, a statement which is more truthful than ever: “In them (both) is great sin, and some benefit, for men, but the sin is greater than the benefit” (Surah 2 Al Baqarah Verse 219). We testify to the truthfulness of Allah’s statement as well as that of His Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Let us not allow ourselves to be carried away by the mirage of games of chance!
One must also be aware that the Lotto is not the only games of chance. We discuss below the various types of monetary games which are also classified as games of chance. Since man’s descent on earth, the heir to Paradise has the bitterness to realize that here below one must toil in order to obtain anything. As opposed to Paradise, Allah Ta’ala has made us understand that on earth, one must plough in order to harvest. Efforts must be made before bread can be obtained. But the final outcome will always remain in the will of Allah. But Allah Ta’ala does not like laziness. The proof of it is that the whole universe is in perpetual motion. “Each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit” (Surah 36 Ya Sin Verse 40).
Allah Ta’ala has decreed trade, service, agriculture and farming as halaal. And He has prohibited usury, gambling, theft and narcotic substances. In a word, authorized sources of income arise from exchanges of risk, effort and hard work. Illicit sources of income relate to easy money obtained without effort. Such sources of income take place at the detriment of others and bring about dissension in society. That is why it is compulsory to seek halaal food. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has stated: “It is obligatory for every Muslim to seek halaal ways in order to obtain his bread-and-butter” (Tabrani).
Rise in crime: A result of gambling
Allah Ta’ala has explained the reason behind resentment and enmity among men. “The devil’s (Satan’s) plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer” (Surah 5 Al Maïdah Verse 91). Not only does the money obtained from gambling not last but it also spreads discord and animosity. Is this not the cause in the rise of criminality in our country and elsewhere?
Various types of games of chance
Every stake or bet which has a market value with a probable gain or loss is considered to be like a game of chance. For example, a bet of Rs10 with a probable return of Rs10 million is illicit. A bet of Rs10 with the objective of obtaining gifts or toys is also considered as a game of chance.
The act of producing three Stoppers of a particular drink and a few rupees and in return obtaining a ticket for drawing lots is still illicit. But if it is only producing three Stoppers in order to obtain the right to draw lots, then, in theory, it is licit. However, one must take into consideration the conditions of participation in this type of event, particularly if it has acquired by itself a market value; in that case, this is precisely what is defined as a game of chance.
On the other hand, gifts received in the course of a completion which has not given rise to monetary approaches are acceptable. Drawing lots among people who are equitable in right of property is also authorized provided the right of no one in particular is hindered.
If games of chance give rise to so many evils in society, it is high time to discourage them wherever they appear.