Please tell me the status of prize bonds in Islam. Someone told me that the Shari`ah bench has approved them to be halaal. I don’t agree with this.
Unfortunately, I am not aware of the decision of the Shari`ah court of Pakistan relating to prize bonds. If you can arrange to send me a copy of the decision, I would be able to comment on that decision more precisely, after reading the line of reasoning adopted by the court.
In my opinion, due to the resemblance of the mechanism of prize bonds with that of wager (gambling1), I would consider it more prudent and closer to Taqwa to refrain from it. Nevertheless, because the two things (i.e. prize bonds and wager) cannot be termed as exactly similar, and because it is a matter of resemblance between the two, therefore, the prize money received from such prize bonds cannot be termed as clearly prohibited by Islam. On the contrary, I would consider such prize money to be among those items which have been referred as things that lie “in between the two clear limits”, in the following saying ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh):
There are certain things that are clearly Halaal and others that are clearly Haraam. However, in between these two clear limits are things, which are not clear and entail some doubts. Whoever refrains from what lies in between the two clear limits shall be able to exercise extreme restraint in matters that are clearly prohibited [and, thereby succeed in adhering to the limts set by God]; but whoever is careless about things which entail doubts of being a sin or not, is likely to fall a prey to what is clearly a sin [and, thereby, cross the limits set by God]. (Bukhari, Kitaab al-Buyoo`)
I hope this helps.
September 23, 2000
- The Encyclopedia Britannica has very precisely defined ‘gambling’ as:
The betting or staking of something of value, with consciousness of risk and hope of gain, on the outcome of a game, a contest, or an uncertain event whose result may be determined by chance or accident or have an unexpected result by reason of the bettor’s miscalculation. (See note on ‘Gambling’) [↩]