Short Answer: Because gambling is an “abomination, of Satan’s handiwork”, according to God’s words in the Quran. It is a violation of justice, a waste of God’s blessings, it’s addictive, it incites hatred & envy, it often goes hand-in-hand with alcohol, it leads to laziness, it feeds greed, and it makes one never satisfied with his portion in life.
Salam (Peace) Andy, Thank you for your question.
It is true that gambling is prohibited in Islam.
Quran: Gambling Is An Abomination
The Noble Quran, which Muslims believe to be God’s Book of Guidance for mankind, states:
O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan’s handwork: eschew such (abomination), that you may prosper. Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will you not then abstain? (Quran 5:90-91)
Islam permits all kinds of recreational activities – including sports and games – but clearly prohibits any game which involves gambling.
The Quran calls gambling “an abomination of Satan’s handwork”.
That is to say, it is a pernicious habit that can have disastrous consequences in a person’s individual and social life.
Gambling is Unjust
Indeed if we make a serious study of it, we can see the reasons why gambling is so objectionable:
First of all, gambling violates the principle of justice.
From the point of view of Islam, justice is highly valued:
O you who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. (Quran 5:8)
Through gambling, people wish to win money or property to which they have no right.
The gambler does not work for his reward, nor does he merit it; he gets it by sheer chance, by fluke.
Gambling Serves Greed & Encourages Laziness
Secondly, gambling serves to feed one’s greed; the gambler goes on playing for an unmerited prize.
Once he gets it, he is eager to get more of it, so he does not want to stop playing.
He may think he is having “a winning streak” and is loath to leave, but plays on forgetting the passage of time, or his more important duties.
Gambling makes a person averse to serious work and fruitful labor.
Such a person gradually loses his respect for actual human efforts that bring in real rewards in life.
He becomes an addict to games of chance.
If he happens to lose, he thinks his luck eludes him for a while; and eager to come by it, he is bent on pursuing it further and further.
Gambling Makes Us Forget God
Thirdly, a person who indulges in gambling ignores his duties to his Creator: he postpones his prayer, or altogether abandons it.
He becomes a victim of his own greed for money. Such a person ceases to be religious.
If a person is not able to keep his baser passions, such as avarice and lust under control, religion has no meaning for him in his day to day activities.
Islam – or any religion worth the name – should enable a person to rise above his material and physical environment in order to empower his spiritual self.
Gambling is an evil like drinking, that upsets one’s emotional balance and undermines one’s intellectual capability.
It is noteworthy that the Quran mentions these two evils together.
Gambling Incites Hatred and Envy
Islam teaches that right to property is established through well-acknowledged norms of society approved by religion.
It is a sacred right and no one’s property can be taken from him or her except through lawful exchange, sale, or charity.
Gambling breaches these norms; and consequently, gambling incites enmity and hatred among people.
Gambling Is Addictive
One may think: What is wrong with betting just for the fun of it or as a pastime, whereby much money is not risked or won.
But from the Islamic point of view, anything that is evil on a big scale is evil on a smaller scale too.
Every wickedness grows into uncontrollable form and size from a small seed.
Moreover, gambling has an addictive side, too, as indicated above. It does exert its own compulsion.
For this reason, gambling is a danger to the individual as well as to the society at large.
The gambler’s energies and intellectual capacities, as well as his sense of values are gradually consumed by this habit.
Such a person becomes a parasite on society, as he consumes undeserving resources while ignoring his duties to the community.
The foregoing makes it clear why gambling is an abominable practice and therefore cannot be encouraged in any society as mere “fun”.
(From AboutIslam’s archives)