Deception through Ignorance and Uncertainty (Gharar)
A contract that is based on uncertainty and ignorance (gharar) is one which involves a certain amount of risk or deception which is bound to lead to disagreements and disputes between the parties to the contract or cause one of them to wrong the other.
Islam has strictly forbidden this type of contract in order to block the means to disputes and all forms of injustice. In fact, it declares it prohibited even if it may be an acceptable practice amongst people, for the Prophet r has forbidden sales which involve deception through ignorance. (Saheeh Muslim: 1513)
Examples of sales contracts that involve deception through ignorance
- Selling fruits before they ripen and become ready for picking. Indeed, the Prophet r has forbidden the sale of dates until their benefit becomes evident and suitable for eating, for there is a chance that they may become decayed and never ripen.
- Paying a certain amount of money to purchase a box without knowing whether its contents are valuable or worthless.
Circumstances under which gharar (ignorance and uncertainty) may affect the contract
Ignorance and uncertainty (gharar) may only affect the contract and render it impermissible if the contract involves a great deal of it and if it relates to the object of the contract
Therefore, a Muslim may purchase a house even if he is not aware of such things as the type of building materials used in the construction of the house and the type of paint used in painting it, for such ignorance is rather trivial and does not affect the object of the contract.
Injustice and Wrongfully Taking Other People’s Property
Taking other people’s property wrongfully, no matter how small it may be, is one of the most heinous sins in Islam.
Injustice is one of the most heinous deeds against which Islam has vehemently warned. The Prophet r said in this connection, “Beware of injustice, for indeed injustice will be darkness on the Day of Judegment.”(Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 2315; Saheeh Muslim: 2579)
Indeed, Islam considers the act of taking other people’s property wrongfully, no matter how small it this property may be, one of the most odious sins and warns those who commit it against severe punishment in the hereafter. As the Prophet r said, “If anyone takes a span of land unjustly, its extent taken from seven earths will be tied round his neck on the Day of Resurrection.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 2321; Saheeh Muslim: 1610)
Examples of forms of injustice committed in business transactions
- Coercion: A transaction that is conducted under coercion in any form whatsoever invalidates the contract. Indeed, mutual consent between the parties to the contract is a necessary condition for the validity of a business transaction, as the Prophet r once observed, “A sale is a sale only if it is made through mutual consent. (Sunan Ibn Maajah: 2185)
- Dishonesty: deceiving other people to take their property wrongfully is one of the major sins, as the Prophet r said, “Whoever cheats us is not one of us.” (Saheeh Muslim: 101). Once, while the Prophet r was walking in the market, he passed by a pile of food and put his hands inside it. Feeling water on his fingers, he turned to the seller of the food and said, “What is this?” “It was left out in the rain, Messenger of Allah,” he replied. “Why don’t you put the wet food on top of the pile so that people can see it?” the Prophet r disapprovingly said, “Whoever deceives us is not one of us.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhee: 1315)
Allah’s Messenger r has cursed those who give bribes and those who take them.
- Manipulating the Law: Some cunning people, when presenting their cases in court, speak in honeyed tones and in a convincing manner in order to take other people’s property wrongfully, not realising that even if the judge rules in their favour he cannot possibly turn falsehood into truth. Addressing some of his companions once, the Prophet r said, “I am only a human being, and litigants come to me to settle their disputes. It may be that one of you may present his case more eloquently and in a more convincing way than his opponent, whereby I may consider him to be in the right and thus pass a judgement in his favour based on what I have heard. Therefore, if I ever give the right of a Muslim to another by mistake [while he knows that he is in the wrong], then the one in the wrong must not take, for I will actually be giving him only a piece of Fire.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 6748; Saheeh Muslim: 1713)
- Bribery: Bribery is a sum of money given or a service rendered in order to influence the judgement or conduct of a person in a position of trust and thus get something illegally. Islam considers bribery one of the most atrocious forms of injustice and the most heinous sins. The Prophet r went as far as to curse those who give bribes and those who accept them.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhee: 1337)
When bribery becomes widespread, it destroys the very fabric of society and affects its development and prosperity.
What is the Islamic ruling regarding a person who has taken people’s property before embracing Islam?
If a person embraces Islam while he is still in possession of money which he has acquired as a result deceiving or assaulting others through theft or embezzlement, for instance, then he must return it to its legal owners as long as he knows them and can do so without incurring any harm whatsoever upon himself.
Even if he has committed such an injustice before embracing Islam, the money he has taken from other people wrongfully is still in his possession and he must thus return it to is legitimate owners, as the Qur’an states, “Allah commands you to deliver trusts back to their owners.” (Soorat An-Nisaa’, 4:58)
If, however, he does not know its rightful owners after exhausting all possible ways to find out who they are, he can get rid of it by giving it away to charity.
Gambling gets gamblers caught in the grip of addiction.
What is Gambling?
Gambling is the act of risking money upon the outcome of a contest of chance. In this way, a person risks money upon an agreement that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome. Put simply, gambling involves betting that must result either in a gain or a loss, and the gambler profits solely at another person’s loss.
The Islamic Ruling on Gambling
Gambling is strictly forbidden, as supported by textual evidence from the Qur’an and the Prophet’s traditions, including the following:
- Allah I considers the sin of engaging in gambling to be far greater than the profit gained from it, as the Qur’an states, “They will ask you about alcoholic drinks and gambling. Say, ‘There is great wrong in both of them and also certain benefits for mankind. But the wrong in them is greater than the benefit.’”(Soorat Al-Baqarah, 2: 219)
- Allah I considers it to be a type of filth and abomination due to its detrimental effects on the individual and society and commands the faithful to avoid it as it sows enmity and hatred amongst them and turns them away from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer, as the Qur’an states, “O you who believe, intoxicants, gambling, stone altars and divining arrows are abominations devised by Satan. Avoid them so that you may be successful. Satan only seeks to sow enmity and hatred among you by means of wine and gambling, and to keep you from the remembrance of God and from your prayers. Will you not then abstain?” (Soorat Al-Maa’idah,5:90-1)
Detrimental Effects of Gambling on the Individual and Society
Gambling has numerous adverse effects on the individual and society including the following:
- It precipitates enmity and hatred among gamblers, for when friends gamble and one of them wins and takes their money they will undoubtedly feel hatred towards him and hold grudges against him and even plot against him and harm him. This is a known fact that is based upon observation. The Qur’an states in this context, “Satan only seeks to sow enmity and hatred among you by means of wine and gambling.” Besides, it distracts from the obligatory prayers and the remembrance of Allah, as the Qur’an states in the context of mentioning Satan’s tireless effort to make gambling look good to man, “and to keep you from the remembrance of Allah and from your prayers. Will you not then abstain?” (Soorat Al-Maa’idah,5:90-1)
- It destroys wealth and causes gamblers to suffer heavy financial losses and personal or legal problems.
- The thrill of gambling and the possibility of winning becomes addictive. If the gambler wins, he becomes greedier and gets carried away, hopeful to acquire more ill-gotten gains. If he loses, he does not give up easily and carries on gambling in the hope of getting back what he has lost. Both gain and loss stand in the way of productive work and constitute a creeping evil that destroys society.
Islam forbids all types of gambling without exception and considers gambling a major sin. .
Types of Gambling
Types of gambling, past and present, are many, and modern forms of gambling include the following:
- Playing a game in which players stipulate that the winner will take some money. For instance, a group of people have a game of cards, each one of them setting aside a certain amount of money, and the winner takes all of it.
- Betting, which is the act of risking money on the unknown result of an event. For instance, each gambler places a bet on a certain team in, say, a football match, and one can only win the bet if the team on which the bet is placed wins, otherwise the bet is lost, which meansloss of money.
- Lottery, which is a type of gambling that has the element of chance. In a lottery, lots, usually in the form of tickets, are purchased and a lot is randomly selected to win a prize, usually a large sum of money. For instance, one purchases a ticket for £1 in the hope of winning £1000.
- All types of gambling without exception, casino or non-casino gambling games, such as electronic and online gambling, involve money that gamblers can either win or lose.