Many of us today shop at various malls and superstores. These include but are not limited to Imtiaz Store, Chase Up etc. One of the marketing schemes companies have come up with is to allure customers with a coupon or some other form of a “win” product. This is not a new marketing strategy and even in the past, local stores were approached by many companies to keep their products as a supplement to various purchases.
Similarly, various stores may advertise such “schemes” as a marketing gimmick. An example of this is: ‘Spend Rs. 10,000 at our store and win an Umrah ticket in a lottery.’ The question that arises here is: Is this allowed in Islam? What is the ruling on such marketing strategies?
Let’s analyze the detriments of suchlike.
- We will try to understand it using the language of the Islamic Jurisprudence to make it an authentic understanding. In the Arabic language there is a word that is used which is called qimar قمار. The same word is used in Urdu. Both translate to mean ‘gambling.’ Gambling is when two parties get involved in an exchange or become a part of a contract where neither party is aware of which of the two parties will benefit from the profit or bear a loss. Additionally, neither party is aware of what the outcome will be.
Such schemes are a form of gambling for which scholars have called it: mastoor alaqibah – مستورالعاقبة. What this means “is any act where it is not known at the end who will benefit and who will be at loss”.
- Another similar manifestation of this is when superstores introduce such schemes where a shopper must spend a certain amount of money in order to become a part of them. For example: ‘spend Rs 5000 or Rs.10000 at our store and be a part of so and so plan and win such and such only if your name is drawn in a lottery’. The reasoning here should be that if a person spends and x amount of money then he ought to be eligible for the reward, yet the lottery makes the win conditional to the drawing of your name. This is a form of gambling.
An everyday example is: You are familiar with the Pakistani product ‘Everyday Nestle Milk Powder, which is a powered milk and is used as a tea whitener. So, if the Nestle company couples a cup with its product, this is an acceptable marketing strategy as the cup as a gift and is certainly yours to keep. On the other hand, if Nestle says that: if you buy five or six of these cups and then we are going to put your name in a lottery; If your name is drawn only then you will get to keep the gift. The latter example becomes a form of gambling.
Another example is of ‘Ufon’ or ‘Jazz’ where the user is told that if for example, he uses up a balance of Rs. 200 in three days, then the company will put his name in a lucky draw to win an Umrah ticket. This is an uncertain outcome and falls under the definition of gambling.
Similarly, if Jazz says that all our customers can win the ticket by purchasing any amount for the cards becomes and approved way. Or if Imtiaz Superstore says that we are including all our shoppers in a draw to win a car, regardless of the fact that a customer spends Rs. 5 or Rs. 5000, this becomes acceptable.
If people are encouraged to pay a certain sum of money to be in with a chance of winning in a scheme where the outcome of your winning still uncertain falls under the category of gambling. This is haram (forbidden in Islam).
Whereas, if a person becomes a part of a scheme where there is no conditional spending involved in order to participate in it makes it halal and acceptable.
May Allah (SWT) guide us to the halal and acceptable means of spending and protect us from the haram. Aameen