Islam & the Lottery

Although the lottery is visible in some Muslim countries, the Quran is explicit in its beliefs about the sinfulness of the lottery.
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In some societies, the lottery is seen as a get-rich-quick scheme that allows lucky individuals to acquire fast money. Countries such as the United States embrace the lottery as a way to bring wealth to individuals along with revenue for the state; however, other countries forbid it. With regards to the lottery, Islam has its own rules on whether or not participation is allowed.

1 Can Muslims Participate in the Lottery?

According to the Quran, the lottery is a form of gambling that Muslims are forbidden from participating in. Surat 2:219 states: "They ask you about intoxicants and gambling: say, "In them there is a gross sin, and some benefits for the people. But their sinfulness far outweighs their benefit." Although the lottery can provide a chance for one to increase their wealth by either winning a small or large jackpot, Muslims are not allowed to purchase any type of lottery ticket. Stores run by Muslims are also not allowed to sell lottery tickets. Selling lottery tickets is seen as making a contribution toward gambling and is frowned upon just as much as buying tickets.

2 Why Is Participation Forbidden?

The Quran is very explicit in stating why followers are not permitted to participate in the lottery. If a person wants to achieve wealth, they should use their knowledge or skills to work a legitimate job and make an honest living. Money should not be seen as the key to a better life, but instead should be seen as a way to support one's family. The lottery is seen as Satan's way of tempting a person with a form of gambling that is considered to be sinful. People often engage in sinful activities while they are gambling, which can lead to dangerous results such as death and murder. People can also risk losing their family and belongings if gambling becomes too much of an obsession. Other problems arise when people spend too much time gambling; they forget about worshiping Allah and living according to his word.

3 A Test From Allah

According to the Quran, Allah knows the past, present and the future. Therefore, he is already aware of who will win the lottery and when they will win it. Although Allah has this knowledge, he does not push anyone to participate in forbidden activities, even if he knows that they will win in the future. Having the lottery is Allah's way of testing individuals to see if they are willing to live a peaceful life that is true to his word.

4 The Lottery in Islamic Countries

Although the Quran teaches that gambling is a sin, Islamic countries such as Pakistan and Egypt still allow their citizens to participate in the lottery. Although Islam asserts that Muslim countries should follow the word of the Quran, it has no jurisdiction to mandate that countries follow all of the teachings from the Quran. Muslim countries are allowed to set their own rules. However, their decision to go against the Quran is still not considered right in the eyes of Allah.

Jessica Seals graduated from The University of Memphis where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in English. A former intern at, she wrote numerous articles about the culture of college life from an African-American viewpoint during her senior year of college.