The lottery is considered haram in Islam. Islamic scholars unanimously believe the lottery is haram as they consider it a form of gambling, which is explicitly forbidden in the Qur’an and Sunnah.
In this article, we’ll take you through the Islamic evidences that scholars referenced to derive their ruling.
Mentions in The Qura’an or Hadith About Participating in Lotteries
Allah (SWT) explicitly warns us against gambling in the Qura’an in different verses, including those from Surah Al-Mai’dah and Surah Al-Baqarah.
Islamic scholars unanimously consider participating in lotteries to be a form of gambling, and thus the same rulings apply. (source)
He (SWT) says in Surah Al-Mai’dah (93:94):
“O you who believe, truly intoxicants and gambling and divination by arrows are an abomination of Satan’s doing; avoid them in order that you may be successful. Assuredly Satan desires to sow enmity and hatred among you by means of intoxicants and gambling, and to hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you not then desist?”
Surah Al-Mai’dah (93:94) (source)
Here, the surah emphasizes that gambling is an evil action that distracts us from remembering Allah (SWT).
Allah (SWT) also warns us against gambling in Surah Al-Baqarah (2:219):
“They ask you (O Muhammad) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: ‘In them is a great sin, and (some) benefits for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit.’”
Surah Al-Baqarah (2:219) (source)
This surah further clarifies that while gambling may offer material rewards, the action is condemned in Islam and believers receive great sin for participating in it.
Is It Haram to Accept Lottery Money?
Islamic authorities agree that lottery winnings are haram and should be treated according to the Islamic guidelines concerning haram earnings. According to Islamic authority figures, haram income should be given away to charity with no intention of gaining reward. (source)
Many Ahadith warn Muslims against earning haram money and emphasize that we will be questioned about how we earned on the Day of Judgement.
“Man’s feet will not move on the Day of judgment before he will be asked about his life, how did he consume it, his knowledge, what did he do with it, his wealth, how did he earn it and how did he spend it, and about his body, how did he wear it out.”
(Hadith, Attimidhi, 2341.) (source)
The literature review ‘Legal and Illegal in Islam,’ by Islamic researchers interprets the hadith and emphasizes the importance of earning a halal income.
The researchers discussed how every person shall be questioned on the day of judgment about their earnings. And If they fail to provide a satisfactory answer, they shall not enter Paradise according to authentic Islamic sources. (source)
The research paper further discussed how the Prophet conveyed the seriousness of the punishment for unlawful earning. The punishment, as described by the Prophet, is one that is unbearable. (source)
The Prophet Muhammad PBUH emphasized the punishment of earning a haram income in the hadith:
“Every flesh nourished by haram deserves fire”
(Hadith Shu`abul iman,5521) (source)
Islamic authorities agree that lottery money is haram and should be treated as such. According to Islamic authority figures, haram money should be given away to charity with no intention of gaining reward. (source)
Is It Haram to Buy Lottery Tickets?
Islamic scholars unanimously agree that buying lottery tickets is haram. (source)
Islam Q&A clarified that buying lottery tickets falls under the category of gambling, which is explicitly forbidden in Islam (source). The authority site quoted a response by Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen, who was asked about the allowance of participating in the lottery with the intention of using the winnings for Islamic projects.
The Shaykh responded saying:
“What the questioner describes, where a person buys a ticket then if he is lucky – as he says – he gets a lot of money, comes under the heading of gambling, of which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning)”
Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (source)
and he proceeded to cite [Surah al-Baqarah 2:219] as evidence. The scholar further clarified the matter, stating:
“This gambling – which is any transaction in which a person may win or lose, and he does not know whether he will be a winner or a loser – is all haraam. Indeed, it is one of the major sins, and its abhorrent nature is no secret when one realizes that Allaah mentions it in conjunction with idol-worship, alcohol and azlaam (arrows for seeking luck or decision). Whatever benefits may be hoped for from gambling pale into insignificance beside the harm that it causes. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning)”
Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen
Is lucky Draw Haram in Islam
In our research, we found that some Muslims were unclear about lucky draws, such as those conducted at supermarkets.
Islam Q&A clarified that scholars have different opinions on this matter, and that it is not generally considered gambling, provided certain conditions are met (source).
They outlined two conditions for the lucky draw to be halal, as per the understanding of some scholars:
- The lucky draw should not cause an increase in the cost of goods sold.
- The buyer purchases products out of need, and not with the sole intention of joining the lucky draw.
Is Selling Lottery Haram?
Islamweb.net, an Islamic authority site, clarified that selling lottery tickets is “helping in sin and propagating it” and is therefore considered Haram. However, the authority discussed particular conditions under which a Muslim may accept work as a lottery cashier. (source)
In their explanation of selling lottery tickets being haram, Islamweb.net quoted the following verse from Surah Al-Ma’idah:
“Help you one another in virtue, righteousness and piety but do not help one another in sin and transgression” (5:2)
Surah Al-Ma’idah (source)
According to the authority figure, since gambling is haram, any action that directly propagates it is also Haram.
However, the site further clarified that the prohibition is reconsidered if selling lottery tickets fulfills an individual’s financial responsibility to their dependents. Particularly, if without such an income, the dependents and the person’s living conditions are worsened. (source)
The Fatwa further emphasizes the need for the believer to continue his search for a legal income. Muslims should desire to earn a halal income, and Allah (SWT) will make your path easier. (source)
Renowned Islamic scholar Dr. Zakir Naik elaborates on the discussion of working at a company that sells lottery tickets. This question was not about selling lottery tickets yourself.
Dr. Naik clarified that if only a small percentage of the organizations’ profits are derived from selling lotteries, then it is permitted to work there. However, the scholar emphasized that you can’t sell lottery tickets yourself or engage in activities that propagate the lottery. (source)
What to Do with Money Won from The Lottery?
The unanimous opinion amongst Islamic scholars stands that the money earned from a lottery is Haram.
Islam Q&A sheds clarified that you should first try to return the haram income to its rightful owners, and if that isn’t possible, you should donate it to the needy with no intention of receiving reward. (source)
The site mentions that lottery money is haram even if one entered the lottery with the intention of donating the winnings to charity. Islam Q&A clarified that the ends do not justify the means where a clearly stated prohibited action is concerned.
However, the authority site continued to explain that if a believer did enter the lottery and win, one must return the income to its rightful owners. In the case of public lotteries, this is not possible. Therefore, the authority site advises donating the entire amount to the needy. (source)
The site clarifies that, as the money is haram, the believer does not receive the rewards for charity. Here, the money is given away simply to rid oneself of unlawful earnings. (source)
The Islamic authority further clarified that the unlawful earning can’t be used to build a mosque or place of worship. They quote the statement by Hanafi jurist, Imam Ibn Abidin:
“Taj al-Shariah said: “If one spends filthy wealth on the Mosque, or wealth which was gained through both unlawful and lawful means, then this will be disliked (m: makruh tahriman), because Allah Most High does not accept apart from that which is pure, hence it will be Makruh to pollute the Mosque with wealth that Allah does not accept.”
Imam Ibn Abidin
(Radd al-Muhtar, 1/658) (source) Islam Q&A emphasized that Muslims should steer clear of haram income. But, if one does acquire halal earnings, the site stressed the need to dispose of the income by giving the winnings to the poor and needy. (source)
The Bottom Line
In our research, we found that Islamic scholars unanimously agree the following actions are all haram:
- Participating in the lottery
- Buying or selling lottery tickets
- Receiving money from the lottery
- Engaging in actions that propogate the lottery
Some scholars discussed conditions under which working at an establishment that sells lottery tickets may be permissible. Additionally, scholars differ in their opinion of lucky draws. However, the lottery is clearly haram accordingly to Islamic authority figures.