Why is Gambling Prohibited?
Economic Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

Why is gambling prohibited by Islam? Is betting on a horse in a horse race a form of gambling? Why can’t betting or gambling on horse racing be looked upon as an investment? You trade your inside knowledge and ability to predict results into reasonable winnings and if you can’t make it, then you simply quit.


The basic objective of all Islamic directives is to cleanse the human soul from excesses. Economic activities, it is a common observation, have tremendous effects on a person’s character. Therefore, all such activities which produce negative or evil traits in a person are prohibited by Islam, since they tarnish the mirror of the soul. Let us take a look at some of the typical traits of a gambler:

i. He bases his economic activity on chance rather than his own technical ability which of course leads to cowardice and superstition.

ii. He loses the initiative to work hard, which can create severe financial problems for him and his family.

iii. He becomes selfish and mean since his life inevitably becomes caught in a vicious circle of gaining more and more.

iv. He is generally distracted from the higher ideals of life.

Such traits and other similar ones are generally the outcome of gambling. It is not necessary that they are produced in their ultimate form whenever a person indulges in gambling. The temperament of Islam is to bolt all pathways which lead to some evil. The line of prohibition is marked much before the evil starts itself so that a person is discouraged much before.

Yes, betting on a horse in a horse race is a form of gambling. Also, there is a world of difference between betting and investment. Betting or gambling in a horse race cannot be called an investment in any sense of the word since in this case the money involved is not brought in the market as a means of providing service to the society which is necessary. Besides however much you may be able to predict the ‘skill of a horse’ the uncertainty factor is still tremendous.

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