RAFFLES AND LOTTERIES

When people buy lottery tickets, what is the aim behind this purchase? It is clearly to win the jackpot or a high prize. In other words, a person may be willing to pay one hundred currency notes just to have a chance of winning a prize of, say, one hundred thousand currency notes. If he wins it, then he is actually getting one thousand currency notes for each note he had spent. That is a great gain by human standards. It is certainly to make such gains, or to win such prizes, that people buy lottery tickets. Little do they think of the cause for which a lottery is organized.

On the other hand, governments organize national lotteries in order to raise funds, which they may use for financing public sector projects or some other government business. Governments certainly raise large amounts of money in this way. They normally allocate about 30% for prices and around 25% for the administration and expenditure, while the remainder goes to finance its projects. People part with their money knowing that they have little or no chance of landing a major prize or hitting the jackpot. But it is to satisfy their dreams of sudden wealth that they are prepared to buy such worthless tickets.

There is no doubt that such an exercise is forbidden in Islam. The reason is that, for the major part, this exercise lures people and offers them next to nothing. If raffles are organized on the same lines, then the same verdict of prohibition applies.

FORTUNE TELLING

People attach some importance to the time of birth, which act can at times be very much exaggerated. Astrologers tell us that if they knew the exact time of someone’s birth, they can set up his or her horoscope and that they can tell that person a great deal about his or her personality and future. They claim that by knowing the exact time of birth, they can calculate which star was rising and which was descending, and these movements indicate certain things for human beings. Besides, newspapers and magazines in most countries have a horoscope column which tell people, who are born between certain dates, what to expect in the period immediately after the publication of that issue of the paper or magazine. Although many read these for fun, some of them take them seriously.

From the Islamic point of view, we accept nothing of these claims. Indeed, the Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) warns us against consulting any fortune-teller, regardless of the method he or she uses to tell us our fortunes. Moreover, the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) describes fortune-tellers as liars, even when they happen to say the truth (i.e. foretell correctly). That means that if a fortune-teller tells us something and it turns out to be as he had said, he still is a liar because when he told it to us, he did not know it for certain. He was simply guessing. When a person tells us something, which is only guess work, he must be a liar. Indeed the prohibition to fortune-tellers, including astrologers, is very strict. To believe that someone may know the future is tantamount to disbelief in Almighty Allah, because it suggests that these people know something, which in fact is known only to Almighty Allah Himself.

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