Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi states that: “Competitions that attract many participants through local and international phone calls (such as the famous Win Million TV show and the like) are no more than gambling, which is haram (unlawful).
The reason for this is that beguiled contestants are usually lured in to participate in such contests hoping to become millionaires. Unfortunately, they find themselves at the end of the road no more than sore losers; they lose the money paid in making phone calls. The money will be shared between telecommunication companies and the organizers of such programs.
Also, one of the things that make such contests some sort of gambling is that millions of craving contestants vie with one another for winning prizes. But to their amazement, overwhelming majority of them turn losers, and only one in a million or even one in several millions wins the contest.
The main point here is the actual loss garnered irrespective of whether it is a great or a minor one. Here, gambling exists in the sense that the contestant is put in the circle of speculation, filling his mind with imagination of becoming a millionaire in the twinkling of an eye.
In Islam, gambling is strictly prohibited. In the Glorious Qur’an, we see that gambling is mentioned while being associated with wine (khamr). Wine, games of chance, idols and dividing arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Referring to this, Allah Almighty says: ‘O ye who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside in order that you may succeed.’ (Al-Ma’dah: 90)
So gambling is one of the major prohibitions and it is not a minor sin. The door is wide open before a Muslim to earn money through lawful means. Hence, he should not let others beguile him or deceive him with baseless ideas. Rather, he should be more realistic.
A Muslim is ordered by Allah to leave no stone unturned in seeking his livelihood through the sweat of his labour. In earning his living, a Muslim should employ his thinking, exert physical effort to attain his goal, and burn his midnight oil to make his dreams and high hopes come true.
We cannot expect a Muslim to earn his living by a stroke of luck while wallowing in deep slumber and exerting no effort. Lacking behind and lassitude are not the characteristics of a Muslim and not the norms of Islam.
It stands to reason that the companies that organize such programs amass great amounts of money that far exceed the amounts they pay to the winners because contestants vie with one another and pay huge amounts. In addition, what those companies do is a form of devouring people’s properties illegally, which is prohibited. So, the whole issue is a theft but in a new guise.
Indeed, it’s disgusting to see such prohibited contests being held in our Muslim societies such as jackpot and other forms of lottery.
Our Muslim youth should not be beguiled by such fake and illegal ambitions. Rather, they should live the reality as it is and be down-to-earth.
Referring to this in his sincere advice to his son Al-Hasan, Imam `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) stated, ‘Do not incline to hopes (i.e., while staying idle), because high hopes is the merchandise of the fool.’ This also reminds us with the words of a poet: Never be the slave of hopes as hopes are the capitals of the penniless!”