Gambling is a major sin in Islam, however it is not always apparent whether certain games and competitions constitute gambling. This article will examine the Islamic perspective on gambling.
If we take a closer look at the word used for gambling in these verses, ٱلْمَيْسِرُ, it literally means ‘games of chance.’ This is akin to the English word ‘gamble’. In the hadith, when the Prophet ﷺ speaks of gambling, the word al-Qimaar used. AbdAllāh ibn Umar says: “al-Maysir is the al-Qimar.” The same has been narrated from Mujahid, Sa’id ibn al-Musayyib, Hasan al-Basri, Muhammad ibn Sirin, Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah and others (Tafsir Ibn Jarir, 2/358).
Ibn Abbas defined gambling as “The risk of losing on both sides (or putting something at stake from both sides) (mukhatarah) is gambling.” He also says in the commentary of verse 219 of Surah al-Baqarah: “al-Maysir is al-Qimar. In the days of ignorance (jahiliyyah), an individual would stake/risk his wife and wealth whilst gambling with another person. Then whosoever defeated his opponent would take away his (the defeated person’s) wife and wealth.” (See: Tafsir Ibn Jarir, 2/358).