Assalamu alaikum, what is the ruling on participating in a draw to win money (ex. scholarship)? Does this fall under gambling?
Wa ‘Alaykum us-Salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. The concept of casting lots or draws (القرعة) is allowed in Islam based on the Qur’an, Sunnah, and consensus. Doing draws is different from gambling. Allah allowed casting lots in the Qur’an in the story of Prophet Yunus (may peace be upon him) and the Prophet Zakariyyah (may peace be upon him). And Allah says,
“And, verily, Yunus (Jonah) was one of the Messengers. When he ran to the laden ship, He (agreed to) cast lots, and he was among the losers” [37:139-141]
“This is a part of the news of the Ghaib (unseen, i.e. the news of the past nations of which you have no knowledge) which We inspire you with (O Muhammad). You were not with them, when they cast lots with their pens as to which of them should be charged with the care of Maryam (Mary); nor were you with them when they disputed” [3:44]
`Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said, “Whenever the Prophet (ﷺ) intended to proceed on a journey, he used to draw lots among his wives and would take the one upon whom the lot fell. Once, before setting out for Jihad, he drew lots among us and the lot came to me; so I went with the Prophet; and that happened after the revelation of the Verse Hijab (i.e. veiling)”. End. [al-Bukhari no. 2879]
And there is a consensus of the Jurists on the matter [See: al-Mowsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah (33/137)]
There is a difference between casting lots and gambling. Gambling as defined by the scholars is every dealing which wavers between gain and loss and a person does not know if he will gain or lose. This is different from drawing lots which involves determining which of the two parties is deserving of something and neither of the parties loses anything in the process.
With that being said, participating in draws which do not require someone to pay to enter into it is permissible.
Shaikh Sulaymaan ar-Ruhayli (may Allah preserve him) said:
“The fifth form is that there is a draw for a prize in which everyone who wants to enter does so without any action. For example, it is announced in such and such a market that there is a draw for a prize and at the doors there are tickets in which you write your name and your phone number. There is no condition to buy something, nor get rid of something, or write anything [else]. Then they choose someone for the prize through a draw, then this prize is permissible and there is no harm in it because there is no preventative against it”
End. As for draws in which someone has to pay to enter, then it is considered gambling because a person is between gain and loss. They pay to possibly win a prize without the guarantee of receiving anything in exchange for their money. As for draws in which someone buys a product and then they enter into the draw, then these types of draws are permissible with conditions. One can read about such competitions here.
Returning to the question at hand, entering a free draw to win a prize or scholarship is permissible in shaa Allah and it is not considered gambling
And Allah knows best
Faisal bin Abdul Qaadir bin Hassan