Is Betting Haram or Halal?

Table of Contents

The betting business has undoubtedly soared in the last decade internationally. In 2023, the global value of the sport was pegged at $540 billion and is projected to grow 7.4% this year, to a whopping $580 billion.

Breaking down the numbers reveals a growing segment of largely youthful populations hooked on betting. Statistically, 1 in every 4 people gamble, translating to about 1.6 billion speculators worldwide.

So are the stats the same for Muslims, considering the stringent prescriptions by the Quran regarding gambling?

In short - is betting haram or halal?

In the next couple of paragraphs, we’ll be answering these and more crucial questions to help you understand betting from the Muslim perspective.

For starters, No, betting is NOT HALAL!

According to the holy Quran:

“O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, dedication of stones, and divination by arrows, are an abomination of Satan's handwork. Eschew such abomination, that you may prosper” (Quran 5:90).

“Satan's plan is to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer. Will you not then abstain?” (Quran 5:91).

In the holy book, prophet Muhammed condemns alcohol and gambling in equal measure, terming them addictive social diseases that destroy families.

But then begs the question…

Why is Betting Haram?

The Islamic religion prides itself on promoting fairness and justice while rebuking deceit. Muslims are encouraged to earn an honest living that brings no harm to anyone in society.

At its simplest, betting is engaging in a gambling act whose outcome is unpredictable. With uncertainty comes the aspect of risk and loss, with one side losing as the other gains. At the core of a gambler’s winnings lies the aspect of pain infliction to another human, an act that defies Islamic beliefs. The religion’s teachings portray wealth as something that should be earned through sheer hard work, sweat, and not taking advantage of anyone.

In the Islamic faith, betting is listed among the ‘greater sins’, ranked in the fourteenth place among fifty. According to the holy journal Greater Sins, Muslim gamblers are cautioned against the vice as it separates one from godly ways:

“...And to keep you off from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer....” (Surah al-Ma’ida 5:91).

Not long ago, esteemed Doha-based theologian Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi published his views on gambling matters among Muslims. In his view, there are a ton of reasons why Muslims shouldn’t be gamblers; here are four of his crucial reasons.

Reason#1. Property is sacred. In Islam, property owned by an individual is revered, and it shouldn’t be taken from them unless through charity or lawful channels. Thus, taking an individual’s property through gambling is haram and forbidden.

Reason#2. Muslims are to follow Allah’s teachings on property acquisition. Believers are to obtain property by making a sincere living, employing just and natural laws of the land, and setting clear objectives that lead to the desired outcomes. Betting, including poker, lottery, casino games, etc., translates to reliance on luck to succeed, separating one from laboring for an honest day’s earnings.

Reason#3. Betting is addictive. Counting on mere luck, according to the Sheikh, has its obsession. Even when outrageous losses are recorded, the gambler tends to place successive bets with the hope of redeeming past losses. The winner, on the other hand, gains from every loss, driven by greed for more. 

The loser is left shattered. Anger, frustration, and regrets instantly kick in, all bottled up inside. 

Reason#4. Resentment begets hatred and enmity. In his book The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam, Sheikh Qaradawi reveals how hateful gamblers result in vengeful beings. Gamblers handle losses differently; while others may snap out of it in a day or two, the world hasn’t fallen short of isolated extremes.

Well, betting expert or not, it’s a no-brainer that with each betting loss, society is left fixing one more angry human.

So, is there any punishment for the Muslim betting fraternity?

Punishment for betting in Islam

Depending on your jurisdiction, there could be various forms of fines and punishment for gambling. Betting in Muslim-dominated countries could mean more punitive measures for gamblers as a way of enforcing the Quran’s teachings on its people.

While betting is prohibited both in the Sunnah and the Qur’an, it isn’t one of Hadd’s punishable offenses. This is because gambling is not a Hadd crime - it is, in fact, a Ta’zir offense, indictable under its laws. Ta’zir-related offenses are those not prescribed under the Quran and Sunnah, and they can be viewed from two angles.

Firstly, it comprises omissions and actions relating to violating a principle (ma’siya); secondly, it touches on a fundamental principle (Sharia). As it is, betting happens to be a violation of a principle classified under the Ma’siya, which denotes engaging in inhibited acts and omission of one’s obligations as prescribed in the Shari’ah context. 

Consequently, all forms of prohibitions and violation of legal guidelines that are not punished by atonement or hadd directly fall under ‘ta’zir crimes and punishments.’

Types of Haram Bets

Any form of gambling involving gains or losses owing to unknown outcomes is Haram. A few examples include lottery, sports betting, number games, poker, casino games, etc. According to the Quran, in essence, all games of chance, including Maisie, are “grave sins”.

Can you do Halal Activities with Haram Money?

No, you may not! A Muslim faithful may repent after acquiring any monies through “unclean” means as long as they give away all such earnings to charities, which is considered self-purification.

However, if a Muslim incurs losses from gambling, they ought to repent and seek Allah’s forgiveness. Be that as it may, one is not to repeat past forgiven sins.

Conclusion

There you have it - a complete guide on betting from the Muslim perspective. Gambling and all activities resembling outcomes pegged on chances are Haram. Even as the global gaming realm continues to evolve, Islam’s beliefs remain deep-rooted among its faithful to shepherd believers towards a path of righteousness.

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