Raffle tickets for prizes
Fatwa No: 81510


If a shop distributes raffle tickets based on the amount purchased and then makes a ceremony of the drawing for various gift items, is it permissible in Islam?


Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.

The purpose of the lucky draws made by shops or companies is to advertise or circulate their objects or products on a large scale. This is the main aim and all other standards are neglected.
If this kind of prize is made to urge people to achieve better knowledge or to do better deeds then it is permissible, otherwise it is not.
But the prizes announced by the business shops and such are of two kinds.
First, A person can purchase a coupon at a certain price without receiving anything for it, only to subscribe in the lucky draw. This is forbidden since it is nothing but gambling. Allah has forbidden it and it is among the grave sins. Allah Says (interpretation of meaning): {O ye 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.} [5: 90].
"Maiser" (gambling) means one party gains profits while the other party loses. In this case a million of people lose whereas only one-person profits. No doubt, this practice is forbidden in Islam.
Second, A person can purchase some goods and take a coupon, in the end the draw is made for a prize. This kind is between gambling and legal transaction. From one side it is like gambling since the subscriber gains something based on his luck only, without any reasonable payment for the prize. On the other hand, it is similar to a legal transaction since the purchaser takes something against a given payment. It is not the same as gambling where one party is the winner and the other is the loser.
It seems - Allah knows best - that the second form of draw is more similar to transactions than to gambling, especially if the purchaser does not intend to subscribe in the draw only. It is a general rule in Shariah that if a branch resembles two origins it takes the rules of the origin, which is stronger in resemblance. Moreover, the general rule concerning the transactions is that all kinds of transactions are permissible except those which contradict Islamic law. Allah Says (interpretation of meaning): {But Allah has permitted trade and forbidden usury} [2:275].
Thus the transactions that are forbidden are only those made illegal according to Qur'an and Hadith. Some contemporary scholars made this kind of transaction illegal, but we think the factors they considered are not sufficient to support their conclusion. Some of them are as below:
A. It is similar to gambling. One may know this is no more than a doubt. In addition, this doubt is weak because the transaction's similarity to a legal transaction is more preponderant than its similarity to gambling as we mentioned earlier.
B. Some people might purchase goods when they are not in need of those goods. They purchase only to get a coupon to subscribe to the draw. After investigating the Islamic rules we conclude that Sharia does not take into consideration such reasons. But the Sharia considers the reasons that have very strong effects, or if a seller knows of a person who buys only to subscribe to the draw; then he stops selling to that person from purchasing in particular. Otherwise he should not prevent other people from purchasing. A good example for this practice is the case of grapes. Every one knows that grapes are a main source for many kinds of wine, and that wine is a source of evil. In spite of this fact, growing grapes and selling them is permissible except for the one who uses them to make wine.
C. This practice may cause unhealthy competition among businessmen. Every one tries to circulate his goods, not based on its quality but on something external which does not relate to the quality of the goods. This practice causes stagnation for others. The Prophet said: "No one should cause any harm to himself or any other person".
This reason is not sufficient to make it Haram and the Hadith does not apply on it. If the Hadith applies to this practice it can also be applied to the advertisement and it can be applied to opening a shop beside a shop, since it may cause stagnation for the shop which is already there. All Muslim scholars agree that opening a shop beside another one or advertising ones goods is not forbidden.
In spite of all the mentioned details the conditions must be met to make it lawful.
1. A purchaser should purchase only what he actually needs. If he purchases what he does not need this means that his intention is to subscribe to the draw rather than to purchase the goods. Such practice is considered as a trick to gain the draw, so, it is illegal.
2. One should purchase the goods for a price similar to one which they are being sold at in market. If one purchases in a higher price when he knows their actual cost, this means that he intended to subscribe to the draw rather than to purchase. The same rule applies to the one who purchases the low-grade goods at the rate of high-grade goods only to subscribe to the draw.
3. One should purchase the permissible goods. If he purchases forbidden goods to subscribe in the draw, then it is unlawful from the both sides.
If one purchases something permissible he actually needs at the normal rate or less, and receives a coupon then it is permissible, since there is nothing objection able to it.
Third, The Muslim Scholars differ in the third form of the draw. It seems that it is permissible. The method of this draw is that a person purchases some goods which he needs at the same time he receives a coupon or more, and he gets something for that coupon/or coupons without any draw. So every one receives something against his coupon. Probably this practice is permissible especially for the one who needs the goods and does not choosing to purchase from certain shops. For example one says: "Whoever collect certain numbers of (benzene) coupons he will be given a free car servicing or he can be given certain numbers of liters of benzene free or the like".

Allah knows best.      

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