Today, many Americans waited in long queues hoping to be 1 out of 175 million to win the $640 million mega lottery prize. The prize money is so big it made me ponder. In movies, the bad guy sometimes asks the good guy “what is your price?” This typical statement indicates that every man has a price that will make him deviate from whatever he stands for.
In Islam, lottery is considered one form of gambling and therefore it is haram (unlawful). As far as I know, without exceptions, all Muslim scholars agreed that gambling is a sin regardless of the way it is executed.
If no one wins Friday night, the jackpot will grow to $975 million. Lottery officials are considering moving the next drawing after Friday to Times Square in New York City as the anticipation and jackpot build, DeFrancisco said.
It is very easy for us to keep away from something when we don’t like it. For example, eating pork in Islam is haram and since Muslims grow up not eating pork meat it is very easy for them to not crave it. So, I don’t think Muslims struggle by not eating pork meat. There are Muslims though who drink alcohol and refuse to eat pork. They claim they don’t eat pork because it is haram but they can’t answer why they drink alcohol although drinking is a bigger sin than eating pork. My answer is because not eating pork is much easier thing to do than not drinking alcohol. There are many such examples. My idea is that we very often follow our religion’s command when it is easy to do or falls under our habits, cultures or traditions.
Now, going back to the $640 million lottery. How about buying a lottery ticket for a chance to win $600 million? I am sure many Muslims including myself will say “NEVER.” But let us make it a more challenging thing to test our belief, integrity, honesty or whatever makes us good followers of the religion*. What if the chance of winning the lottery is not 1 in 175 million but is 1 in 2. Assume no one won the lottery and only two tickets left. You got a chance to buy one ticket. You know for sure that one of the two tickets will make you $600 million richer. Would you buy this $1 ticket?**
If you answered no then you are not honest. Unless we are in the same situation we can’t answer this question. If you are a religious person you would hope to still say no and not disobey God no matter what but you don’t know yourself unless you are in the same situation. I don’t know whether every man has a price or not but I think our values are not unbreakable as we love to believe.
* Do you know of other religion, beside Islam, that considers gambling or lottery to be a sin?
** This question is for people who don’t buy lottery tickets because of their religion.