Many Muslims play the lottery hoping to win the jackpot, in spite of the clear prohibition against gambling in the Qur’an. For many, it would be a dream come true. A life of luxury in which one does not have to get up early to go to work or plan ahead for rainy days, as everything is taken care of. With a massive amount of wealth, one could pay mortgages, purchase the latest luxury automobiles, take a tour around the world and help the poor and the needy.
This is how it appears from the outside. Winning the lottery is all about happiness, joy and a blissful life – but is it a real happiness, or only a mirage from a distance?
One might ask: why does Islam deny its followers what appears to be a life of joy that never ends, and wealth which can be used for good causes? I struggled with this issue for some time. Then a thought came to my mind, a form of inspiration which gave me clarity and peace of mind about why gambling is not good for me: Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) knows what is best for me. He (swt) does not forbid me from something just to punish me. It is all in my best interests, even though I might not see the benefits.
A believer puts his or her trust in Allah (swt). They know that whatever the Creator forbids them from doing is harmful to them, even if it appears otherwise. Which one would you choose: $100,000,000 that comes with nothing but miseries, or a reasonable amount of money accompanied by happiness and peace of mind? What good would $100M do if it also came with liver cancer? Would you not rather have a small amount of money and be at peace – peace with your Lord, with yourself, with your family, and with everyone around you?
While winning the jackpot appears to bring a life of joy and happiness, the reality is otherwise. People who have won the jackpot have gone on to live a life of hell. Business Insider, an online magazine, carried stories of jackpot winners who lost everything, some of them even facing death threats from their own family members.
Michael Carroll was at his peak when he won Britain’s £9.7 million ($15 million) jackpot in 2002, but a penchant for life in the fast lane — cocaine, parties, prostitutes and cars — put him back at square one in five years. The ex-garbage man ended up hoping to get his old job back.
In 2002, West Virginia building contractor Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. walked away with $114 million from a multi-state Powerball draw – that was just about his last stroke of good fortune. In two separate instances, thieves ran off with $745,000 Whittaker had stashed in his car. Later on, he was sued by Caesar’s Atlantic City for allegedly bouncing $1.5 million in checks. Within four years, his fortune was gone.
Further, the chances of winning the jackpot are almost nil. As indicated by the CBC, the chances of winning are the same as being killed in a terrorist attack while travelling, dying of a flesh-eating disease, or being killed by lightning. Playing the lottery is therefore a waste of money, and that money is a trust for which you will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment.
Know that Allah (swt), the Almighty and the All-knowing, would never order His slave to do something unless the action has benefits for him or her. He, the Most Merciful, also does not forbid His slaves from something unless there is harm in it, even though it might appear otherwise to them.
Instead of pouring your money down the drain by playing the lottery, it is better to invest it in charity, where it will benefit you on the Day of Reckoning. Lottery money has no baraka (blessing) in it. To have little with baraka is better than to have the entire world without baraka.