I've heard that all contests and competitions that have prize money are haram.

The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: No contest is allowed except in swordplay or horse or camel racing.[0]

Even though the Prophet(S.A.W) explicitly said that, it's kind of ridicules to my mind that good competitions are not allowed.

Now my problem is that I've participated in a lot of contests, both online and offline; and I want to know the permissibility of such contests. (whether or not cash/gift is involved)

1. Free to enter online contests

These require no money to enter (Hence they can't be considered as a lottery/raffle). They range from contests of luck (not entirely, since most sweepstakes enable contestants of higher social interaction etc to have a higher probability of winning) to contests of skill. What about these two? (contests of luck and contests of skill).

2. Contests (of skill) that require a small registration fee

These variants have very little resemblance to raffles. Unlike raffles, these don't work as "pure chance". So it's clearly not gambling. eg. Technical Fests, Inter-College events, Developer conferences etc. Personally, I think these competitions can be beneficial in developing one's skills (since the competition is usually strong) even if nothing is won.

Citing a fatwa from the same source,

Giving prizes willingly from a participant in the competitions are also allowed but collecting the contribution from the participants to grant the prize to a winner is not allowed.[0]

I could argue that some of these technical fest events simply collect a small registration fee in the form of donation. The prizes are often directly from the sponsors of the events, etc. Would it be halaal then?

  • Are you asking about the permissibly of the competitions or taking part in the them? Your question is rather vague and you may need to reconsider some parts. For example, in the middle of the question you ask "What about these two?" and I wonder which two you are referring to.
    – Noah
    Oct 2, 2012 at 4:44
  • @Noah I'm asking about both the permissibility of the competitions and hence taking part in them. Don't you think both goes hand in hand?
    – user123
    Oct 2, 2012 at 4:48
  • They do. But you have to address them in your question.
    – Noah
    Oct 2, 2012 at 5:22

2 Answers 2


Let us first clarify some points; a competition/contest is a challenge between a group of people. Some (or one) prizes go to the winners.

For a contest to be ``surely'' halal:

  • The activities should be halal
  • Not all competitors pay a prize share. One of them, some of them or a third party may pay. This third party is often referred to as the sponsor.

What if the organizers require some fees -from all- to enter the contest?

  • If the fees are due to administrative, judging and organizational costs, then it's halal as well.
  • If they collect prizes through those fees, then here comes another question regarding the contest purpose:

  • ==> for entertaining: Then it's Haram (Actually this is gambling!)

  • ==> for developing civilization-related fields (military, scientific, .. ): Then it's Halal

The last point can be controversial. The listed allowed fields are those 3 you mentioned (swordplay, horse or camel racing). But Ibn Taymeya (in his Forooseya book) gave a fatwa to broaden this short list to a more general purpose: civilization-related development. This definition was accepted within many "Hanafy" scholars. See this fatwa (arabic)

Other scholars (actually most of them) did not like this definition, and went to another method "Mohallel". Here every one pays except 1; called Mohallel. See this fatwa (arabic)

  • 1
    Thanks. Can you please explain a bit more about Mohallel? Why does he not pay and how does that make it halaal?
    – user123
    Oct 4, 2012 at 14:47
  • 1
    The difference between contests and gambling is not that wide. Gambling is haram; all contributers pay, one win. The mohallel is a method to get out of this definition. If a single one doesn't pay, they the gambling definition does not apply. Hence it could be halal. Remember the issue I pointed before? "Not all competitors pay a prize share" The hadeeth that permits this 'Mohallel' method is not authentic, the whole Mohallel story is controversial. Oct 4, 2012 at 21:24

First of all , not all contests are forbidden . Thus the Hadith correctly goes like this : “ There should be no [ MONEY ] PRIZES for competitions except in archery , camel and horse-racing .”

If contests is done on the basis of paying money which is ultimately taken by the winner , that is Haram except in archery , horse or camel races , and other similar .

Thus , some Scholars added to them everything that helps in Jihad , such as competitions for memorising The Qur’an and the Sunnah , and competitions in airplanes , ships , boats , etc .

For contests that don't come for preparing for war or strengthening for Jihad , accepting prize money is haram .

If the prize comes from competitors then this is gambling which is obviously haram .

If the prize is given by a third person , or by one of them , such as the sponsors , then it's haram, even if it's not gambling . This is because we don't know exactly how the system they are functioning ..the sponsors maybe taking our contest entry fees .

If the participants doesn't pay any money for participating in the contest and this contest has a prize to the winner , then this prize is equivalent to giving a " gift " , which is permissible , as long as this contest does not involve in doing Haram things such as wearing forbidden clothes by the participants , music , singing , dance , clapping , etc .

This free entry contest could be tricky in some cases such as the contests in the newspaper or magazine . Here one would think he doesn't pay anything for the entry , but in reality the price of the newspaper might have raised because of the contest it has .


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