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Contests & sweepstakes with a participation fee

Published: 22/08/2011 08:37:00 PM GMT
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There is a contest hosted by a newspaper whereby you answer a question using your cellular phone and can win a prize. The cost of the call is about five Saudi Riyals. What is the ruling on participating in such a contest?

Answered by

the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî

After considering the conditions of the contest, it becomes clear that it is unlawful for a Muslim to participate in it. It is a clear case of gambling. The newspaper in question, though it does not make paying a participation fee explicit, has made the fee implicit in the money that is being charged for the call. The normal price for a phone call, 20 cents, is a fraction of the amount being charged for this call. This means that much of the extra cost is going to the newspaper that is conducting the contest. The newspaper, in turn, pays out the prizes from a portion of the receipts from the charges on the calls.

This set-up is the very definition of gambling, whereby the prize money comes directly from the contributions of the participants. Some participants win at the expense of others. Each participant faces the possibility of losing what he spent on the call if he loses or of making a profit on what others have spent if he wins.

This is precisely what the Qur’ân declares forbidden. Allah says: “O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, sacrificing to stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork: eschew such (abomination) that ye may prosper” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 91-92]

And Allah knows best.


Answered by:

Sheikh Sulaymân al-`Isâ, professor of Graduate Studies at al-Imam Islamic University

Sheikh Sâmî al-Suwaylîm, researcherin Islamic Economics

Sheikh Yûsuf b. Ahmad al-Qâsim, professor at the Higher Judicial Institute

Sheikh Râshid Al Hafîz, presiding judge at al-Mikhwât District Courthouse

Sheikh Sâmî al-Mâjid, professor at al-Imam Islamic University

Source: Islam Today

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