In Islam, people are encouraged to earn a living and support their families. Exploitation and corruption cause harm to individuals and the community, and they weaken an economy based on honest, hard work. Out of concern for the moral and economic welfare of society, certain financial practices are forbidden.
In the Qur'an, gambling is discussed in the same verses as alcohol. Both are described as having some “profit for men,” but “the sin is greater than the profit” (Qur'an 2:219). The Qur'an refers to gambling as a “game of chance,” and scholars have interpreted that to include lotteries, casino gambling, or even betting on the outcomes of races or sports events.
In all cases, one does not control the outcome and has a slim chance of winning something. Usually the poorest in society are affected the most, suffering bankruptcy and broken families. Muslims are encouraged to use their resources to seek honorable work instead and realize that one does not gain money without effort.
Lending with Interest
Islam absolutely prohibits the lending of money for a price or with a fixed rate of interest. Interest-based lending creates an atmosphere where the wealthy exploit the weak, creating greed and hatred in people's hearts.
Muslims are forbidden from collecting interest, paying interest, or having anything to do with it. “Those who devour usury [interest] will not stand, except as the one whom the devil by his touch has driven to madness. That is because they say, ‘Trade is like usury.’ But Allah has permitted trade, and forbidden usury” (Qur'an 2:274).
How can Muslims buy real estate if interest-based mortgages are forbidden?
Many Muslim families rent their homes, while some finance home purchases through Islamic organizations. Muslims may use other financial tools that do not depend on interest, such as installment sales or equity participation. Indeed, in many countries, banks offer interest-free alternatives.
Muhammad emphasized the prohibition when he told his followers, “Allah has cursed the one who takes interest, the one who pays it, the one who writes it, and the one who witnesses the contract.”
This guideline, like all of the others in Islam, is in place to help people engage in fair, trusting relationships with each other, and to help them avoid potential exploitation and abuse.