The Cancer next to the Masjid

Brother Ibrahim Khan – 1st Ethical

In every Muslim community there are two permanent fixtures wherever you go in the UK. You can go to the London heartlands, the Blackburn hills, the Bolton vales, Manchester, Leicester, Glasgow, Birmingham – everywhere you will find these fixtures. The first one is of course the Masjid. In nearly every street we have a Masjid, thriving and full of people who come to pray and children who come to study. In a way, the flourishing of this Islamic community makes the second fixture all the odder. In nearly every Muslim neighbourhood, sometimes right next to the Masjid, we will find the second fixture, a gambling shop.

Gambling has unfortunately become an acceptable practise in Muslim society due to its wide-scale promotion by the media. A large number of good Muslims are also caught in the web, not realising that they are gambling and that the earnings from the gambling are haraam.

In the early days of Islam the Prophet (PBUH) was questioned regarding the permissibility of gambling and alcohol. The first verse that was revealed regarding this is in Surah Baqarah:

“They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say, ‘In them is great sin and some benefit for men; but the sin is greater than the benefit.” (Qur’aan 2:19)

Nowadays, just like the epidemic of plague, the disease of gambling too has now become so common that it has become virtually a means of trade and commerce.  Thousands and millions of Muslim openly go against the clear order of Allah and his Holy Prophet (PBUH). Thousands and millions of Muslims become involved in this act of gambling with the result that it becomes an unending and everlasting vice.

How bizarre it is to see old men in their topis go to the Maghrib prayer, drop off their grandchildren to the madrasah, and then head next door to bet on the horses. And yet this is happening every single day all over the UK in our communities. People do no bat an eyelid when a Muslim buys lottery tickets in the shop; no one comments when they see a used scratch-card thrown on the pavement. We have become almost immune to the evil of this activity even though we see signs of it daily all around us.

Three things are going wrong here. Firstly, the masjid and the madrasah is failing in its purpose to warn its congregation of the ills of this activity. They may be encouraging people to pray, but they need to go much beyond that. Lut (as) did not go to his nation and preach to them to start praying. No, he tackled the problem of his people head-on.

Secondly, people do not have the basic Islamic education to know that what they are doing is haram. This is because financial Islamic education is nearly always neglected in every community and as a result we have 5-times praying bearded Muslims who deal in interest, sell alcohol, and gamble on the weekend.

Thirdly, our eman is weak. For many of the gambling Muslims out there they do in fact know that what they are doing is wrong. But unfortunately we lack the attachment to our deen that comes from basing our beliefs on firm reasons and logic rather than for cultural and social reasons. All three of these reasons must be remedied through education, the effective delivery of education, and the right kind of education.

And this education is sorely needed as the severity of this sin is such that if one was to suggest another to gamble, he would have to give away some sadaqah. The Prophet (PBUH) said:

“Whoever says to his companion, ‘Come, I will play you for stakes,’ must expiate by giving charity.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Hence we should repents sincerely to Allah if we have played any sort of gambling games such as lottery, scratch cards, roulette and raffles etc. And if we ever made some gains then we would purify our wealth by giving away an equivalent amount in charity.

May Allah Ta’ala bestow the entire mankind with salvation and freedom from this disease!

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