One needs to look out for Muslims names among winners and runners-up in these promotions to confirm this fact as companies make it easier to participate

through use of SMS codes Nowadays one does not need to go to a casino to gamble. You  can actually do it through the convenience of your mobile phone or by simply through purchasing household items among other marketing gimmicks that have been deviced by companies and businesses for you to get enlisted. To make sure their message gets home, they have deployed sophisticated and innovative marketing techniques to get consumers yearning for more. The catch here is to entice you to spend more of your hard earned money and the bait-prizes! Usually in kind or cash. In other instances, you get bombarded with unsolicited short code messages (SMSs) reminding you of the high chance of winning if you participate and that the more times you play; the more your chances of winning. Although promotions/lotteries and related topics have been captured elsewhere; the Islamic perspective and views on the same have not been exhaustively dealt with; captured or are missing altogether. Marhaba Life and Style picked up on the same and found out that Muslims have indeed embraced it and are part and parcel of such promotions/lotteries either out of ignorance or in total disregard of Islamic Shar’iah. You just need to look out for  Muslims names among winners and runners-up in these promotions to confirm this.

Marhaba Life and Style has also established that a favorite method used by companies for these promotions is through the use of SMS codes. Thus owing to such a convenience, Muslims are innocently participating. But did you also know that all such promotions/lotteries and gambling of any sort in Kenya have to be licensed/governed by the Betting Control and Licensing Board? Meaning that as a Muslim, this should raise a red flag and alert them that they are categorised as a form of games of chance and as such outlawed in Islam. Similarly, different Islamic scholars concur that a Muslim does not need to participate directly for him/her to transgress; abetting such ventures-no matter how minimal your role; is equally a transgression?

Well, Hidaya Nurdin, 22, found out the  hard way. Just fresh from school and after submitting several unsuccessful application letters to prospective
employers, opportunity beckoned when a gaming company handed Hidaya her debut in employment as cashier. Hidaya’s role at the gaming centre
involves striking deals and since it is sports betting, the team that wins naturally goes home victorious with the money depending on amount agreed
upon by the wagers. Recently, while listening to a Friday sermon (Khutbah), Hidaya learnt that her source of livelihood was haram leaving her confused as she pondered her next move. “I honestly did not know it is haram but I cannot leave just yet until I find another job,” says Hidaya. A few years ago, Saidi Almasi participated in a much hyped promotion where the top prizes included several pick up trucks and he ‘invested heavily’. “I had set aside over KSh.15,000 just to participate. During the duration of the promotion, I never won anything let alone a consolation prize,” admits Saidi.
He had hoped that upon winning, the truck would give him a big break at the food transport business.

That’s not all; Saidi confides to Marhaba Life and Style that despite all, he has never given up and is a regular participant of other ‘big prize’ promotions. Actually, Saidi is short of admitting is that he is a fully fledged gambling addict. “One of these days, I shall win…just wait and see!” Additionally, the impact of such promotions/lotteries on the larger Muslim community cannot be gainsaid. Spiritually, the advent of these promotions is also a source of concern to Ustadh Muhammad Abdallah. He is concerned that many Muslims are slowly being brainwashed to think that they can
do everything without the help of Allah (SWT) and fail to realise that He (Allah) is the provider. “Allah is the Ar-Razak,” says Ustadh Muhammad. As for Bakari Ibrahim from Kibera, he blames greed as the driving force. “Lack of contentment is a major factor and people are turning to these sort of
activities with the sole aim of getting rich fast-no matter what.” For those claiming that it is a form of entertainment, Munira Muhammad-The Chairlady of Lotus Welfare Association  in Nairobi, points out that any activities that goes against Islamic Shar’iah and tends to interfere with one’s duty in worshipping Allah is wrong. “It should not compromise your duty towards Allah, iman or the welfare your family,” observes Munira. Even as Marhaba Life and Style was up and about on this topic, common excuses such as unemployment, entertainment among others did not convince us. So what is the position of Islam on games of chance/luck such as promotions/lotteries or gambling?

In the holy Qur’an in Sura Al- Ma’idah 5;90, Allah warns against gambling: “O you who believe intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks) gambling, al-ansab and al-azlam (arrows of seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful.” “Satan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you and intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and
hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from Salat (prayer) so will you not then abstain?(5:91)” Further, games of chance mentioned in many verses in the holy Qur’an include all types of gambling. The Arabic equivalent to Maisir’ is derived from the root word ‘Yusur’ which means ‘ease’. Since a gambler does not perform a laborious work and is able to easily get the money belonging to others, gambling is called ‘Maesir’. Therefore, in his book ‘The Lawful and Prohibited’, Sheikh Yusuf Al- Qaradawi outlines sound and noble objectives behind the strict prohibition of gambling:

1. The Islamic teachings urge the Muslim to follow Allah’s directives for earning a living, to use natural laws and direct means for the attainment of his objectives, and to employ such causes to produce the desired effects. Gambling, which includes raffling or the lottery, on the other hand, makes a person dependent on chance, ‘luck’ and empty wishes, taking him away from honest labor, serious work and productive effort. The person who depends on gambling loses respect for the laws of causation which Allah has established and commanded people to use.

2. In Islam, an individual’s property is sacred; it may not be taken from him except through lawful exchange or unless he gives it freely as a gift or in charity. Accordingly, taking it from him by gambling is unlawful. 3. It is therefore not surprising that gamblers develop hatred and enmity towards one another, although they may claim that losing does not trouble them. There is always a winner and a loser. The loser may seem composed but behind his composure is frustration, anger, and regret: frustration due to disappointment, anger at the loss of money, and regret for not having  played a winning game.

4. Gambling has its own compulsion. The loser plays again in hope of winning the next game in order to regain his earlier losses, while the winner plays again to enjoy the pleasure of winning, impelled by greed for more. Naturally, luck changes hands, the loser becomes the winner and the winner the loser, and the joy of winning changes into the bitterness of loss. Thus the gamblers may persist at playing the game, unable to bring themselves to leave it; this is the secret of the addiction to gambling.

5. Because of this addiction, gambling is a danger to the society as well as to the individual. This habit consumes gamblers’ time and energy, making them non-productive idlers and parasites on society, who take but do not give, who consume but do not produce. Moreover, due to his absorption
with gambling, the gambler neglects his obligations towards his Creator and his duties towards his community. It often happens that a gambling addict sells his honor, religion, and country for the sake of the gaming table, since his devotion to this table dulls his sense of values and kills all other devotions. Incidentally, what is the ruling on the likes of Hidaya who ‘aid’ in the gambling process? According to Ustadh Muhammad Abdallah, all parties involved in abetting the process are held accountable. “From the security officer manning the gates, drivers to cashiers are all liable. Further, it is a sin not only to the owner of the casino and the gambler but also to the surrounding community,” says Ustadh Muhammad. “As a community, we are told to stop fisad (corruption), if not by action-but even mere word. So, as Muslims, we ought to speak out strongly against such.”

Additionally, Shiekh Muhammad Idd Muhammad in his audio darsa (lesson) aired frequently on Muslim radio station Iqra 95.0 FM; talks extensively on this topic of gambling in its various manifestation. In fact according to Sheikh Muhammad Idd, simple handouts of free items like detergents upon filling up on fuel at petrol stations also qualify as gambling. As such Muslims ought to decline such freebies. So what then is the punishment for those involved in games of chances? It is related from Imam Ja’far as- Sadiq that Allah pardons all the sinners in the month of Ramadhan except three kinds of people. “Those who drink wine, those who gamble and those who harbor enmity and avarice towards a fellow Muslim.” Further, since consuming money derived from gambling is haram, Allah (SWT) will not accept your Salat (prayer) for fourty days. As at the time of going to press, it was still not clear on the ruling as far as Islamic religious based quizzes reply via SMSs? Do they also form part of gambling?

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