What is your price?

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.


7 thoughts on “What is your price?

  1. I don’t have religion, but I used to buy lottery tickets in the States. I had a firm rule. 5 tickets per week only. That was 5 USD. Regardless of the size of the lottery, big or small, my purchase was 5 tickets. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I set a limit and stuck to it. I’ve seen many who didn’t and lost a great deal of money that could’ve been used toward necessities. I’m not giving myself any medals, I’m as prone to excess as the next one. My excesses though, come in different areas. The “sinful” nature of gambling escapes me completely. The variable acceptability of “sinful” acts escapes me even more completely. It’s my opinion that a man’s religious state seems to be based more on convenience than true piety. Your comparison of gambling vs. alcohol is a perfect example, though I could cite quite a few others… I liked this post very much!

    1. Hello Big Jim,
      Glad you found my blog and took time to write your comment. You actually explained it better than me when you said “a man’s religious state seems to be based more on convenience than true piety.” I agree with you on this. We can’t of course generalize this but unfortunately most of us fall under this category. That is why we, speaking of my religion, seek Fatwas on different issues from different Islamic scholars hoping to find one the suits us.

  2. I know many Muslims who drink wine often because it has been proven that red wine with meals helps against hardening of the arteries and buildup of bad cholesterol. The French drink wine with their meals and their diet is very heavy with cream and butter yet suffer a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease. And I did not buy a lottery ticket

    1. I believe many of Islam’s commands are preventive. ِThere is no harm in drinking a little bit of alcohol, or buying a $1 lottery ticket every month or even every year but because the Creator knows such things will lead us to over indulge in we may end up harming ourselves. But of course true Muslims don’t need a reason to obey Allah’s commands. I don’t know why pork meat is haram or why I need to pray five times a day but I obey because I believe Allah’s words. That is the Quran.
      I didn’t buy a lottery ticket and Alhamdulilah I never had.

  3. Many in my religious circles wouldn’t buy lottery tickets. I’ve heard the gambling argument many times over the years. There is no mandate “thou shalt not buy lottery tickets,” however, many people warn against get-rich-quick schemes or being unwise stewards of the money God allowed you to earn.

    That being said, I think some people – like Jim above – can set a certain limit, play and be fine with it. It’s really not that different from the money many people will spend on coffee or entertainment. If they choose a certain amount of money to go towards LOTTERY TICKETS and can abide in that budget, no problem. It’s their entertainment, their “coffee” so to speak. I think it’s all about moderation. If you are prone to gambling, then refrain by all means! If your children are going hungry or you can’t pay your bills don’t buy lottery tickets (or your fancy coffee or latest tech gadgets for that matter!)

    I’ve never bought a lottery ticket, but if the odds were 1 in 2, I think I’d be foolish NOT to invest $1 with those kinds of odds. That’s less risky than the stock market.

    1. Thanks for the insight. Indeed, moderation is the key for a happy life.
      Anyway, I know if you win couple of millions you will share it with the poor and not just spend it all buying a jet and an island 🙂

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