Asalaamu alaikum. I asked an alima about whether or not it was gambling if co-workers got together and put money in a pot in a competition to lose weight. At the end of the competition, the person who lost the largest percentage of weight would get the money. The alima told me that that was indeed gambling. So when I told the other members of the group, they asked me for hadith proof. One member proposed that the winner would just get a gift card and certificate. Would that make it halal? Someone also posed the question as to what the difference between this competition and a basketball tournament where the participants have a joining fee and the winner wins a cash prize or trophy.
Wa Alaikum Assalaam,
الجواب و بالله التوفيق
According to the Scholars, whenever there is the possibility of winning or losing and uncertainty of acquiring something paid for, it is considered a gamble. Therefore, every such game, competition etc. which carries this implication will be regarded as a gamble.
In the Competition you have mentioned, money is paid by each person to afford him/her the chance to win. A person who has paid the money can lose his money or win all. This is gambling as mentioned by the Scholars.
As such, instead of doing what you propose, the competition should be held in a manner where there is an understanding among all the members that they will enter a competition of losing weight, and whoever loses the most weight, then the other members (co-workers) will join to purchase a gift/prize for that person. This will be allowed since in this manner, the winner would not be one who has put money to the competition.
And Allah Knows Best.
Mufti Waseem Khan.
This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.