Gambling is one of the fastest growing addictions in western countries like the UK and USA. We are starting to see bookies, gambling shops, opening later at night. Bookies have become hang out joints for men of young and old. We have also seen internet based gambling sites soar meaning easy access for people to carry out their addiction without even leaving the the comfort of their own homes. Scratch cards, the lottery, slot machines, bingo, the horses, the dogs, bets on football, the list goes on and on.
Studies on brain activity while a person is gambling has been likened to the effects of crack cocaine. The compulsive gambler goes through cravings, raised heart beats, sweats and anxiety just like the one craving a drug their body is dependent upon. Families are torn apart, houses are repossessed, marriages are broken, children are practically orphaned, not from heroin or crack, but from the buzz of chasing the next win. Meanwhile, large bookies like William Hill are profiting around £1.5 billion per year.
Men and women are spending their last pennies on the next bet and then turning to illegal means to raise more money, just like the drug addict up for their next hit. The pull of gambling is as destructive as the addiction of substance misuse. This is why it is forbidden in Islam. Allah clearly outlaws gambling for Muslims because of the destruction it leaves behind. There are no winners in this gambling world. The companies get richer and the gamblers fall into holes of destruction and poverty. Allah says;
“O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling…are but the handiwork of Shaitan, so avoid it that you may be successful” (Quran, 05:90)
Allah mentions gambling alongside intoxicants to demonstrate the similarity between the two addictions. A gambler may find it hard to associate themselves with the likes of a heroin addict but they need to rid themselves of this denial and realise that their behaviour is just as destructive. Allah mentions in the next Verse;
“Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?” (Quran, 05: 91)
Families and relationships are torn apart due to the actions of the gambler. Arguments about money, lack of responsibility and selfishness cause hatred between family members. In some cases, gamblers steal from family or sell their belongings. Family feel let down by the actions of the gambler and feel second best, often going without, financially and feeling lonely. The gambler becomes preoccupied with his or her next ‘hit’, finding excuses to leave the home, often missing out on time with loved-ones. And if this is how the family feel, then what about the One Who is Most Worthy of Worship. As Allah says in the Verse above, gambling takes us away from the remembrance of Allah, especially our prayers. The one who lost in the world of gambling becomes so immersed that they enter into a transfixed zone. Slot machines have been especially designed to captivate the user. The lights, the music, the ‘almost there’ opportunity to win that causes the user to keep on slotting in those coins.
If you walk past any gambling shop on the high road, you will notice they often have a smashed window in just the right place for an angry foot. As the last coin leaves the user a loser, the anger and aggression fuels him or her. Guilt and shame set in, frustration and then the urge to try and win back everything they have lost. A person who has become lost in an addiction of this kind needs professional help and support to overcome this. Just as you would help the heroin addict or the crack cocaine user, a gambler is in need of help.