Is it permissible for an Islamic institute to apply for a grant from the big lottery fund?

Q: Can you clarify whether its permissible for an Islamic institution to apply for a grant from the big lottery fund, either to

  1. Build a community centre operated by the Masjid
  2. Any other community building
  3. To build a masjid

I understand buying a lottery ticket is impermissable, however is it permissable apply for a grant from the funds collected.

According to the website “About 28 pence of every pound spent on a lottery ticket goes to good causes”. My understanding is that the grant money will be from the 28pence.

“If your organisation is not a statutory body and we award you a capital grant of more than £250,000, you will need to give us a legal charge on the land and buildings, before we can pay you a capital grant. The legal charge must be completed on the form in Appendix D ( page 60) of these guidance notes.”

Which means the big lottery fund will have a legal charge over the building if the Biglottery fund rules are not followed.

الجواب حامدا ومصليا ومنه الصدق والصواب

A: Despite the clear prohibition of playing the National Lottery it is permissible to apply for funding from the Big Lottery Fund.   The reason for this is explained below:


There are four main parties that contribute to the running of the UK National Lottery:

  • the UK Government (Department for Culture, Media and Sport);
  • the National Lottery Commission;
  • the Operator (currently Camelot Group);
  • and the Distributing Bodies for National Lottery grants.


The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has responsibility within Government for National Lottery policy. It also sets the policy and financial framework that the distributing bodies for National Lottery grants operate within.


The National Lottery Commission is responsible for the regulation and licensing of the National Lottery, and runs the competition to award the licence to a commercial operator. It is a non-departmental public body (NDPB), and is sponsored by DCMS.

The proceeds of the National Lottery support the arts, heritage, sport, charities and community and voluntary groups as well as supporting projects concerned with health, education and the environment.


These funds are awarded by Lottery distributers, of which there are currently 12:

  1. Arts Council England
  2. Arts Council of Northern Ireland
  3. Arts Council of Wales
  4. The British Film Institute
  5. Big Lottery Fund
  6. Creative Scotland
  7. Heritage Lottery Fund
  8. Legacy Trust UK
  9. Sport England
  10. Sport Northern Ireland
  11. Sports Wales
  12. Sport Scotland
  13. UK Sport


For every £1 that the public spends on Lottery tickets 28 pence goes to the Lottery good causes. Out of the 12 Lottery distributers the Big Lottery Fund is the largest Lottery distributor and is responsible for giving out about 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery for good causes: 14 pence of every pound spent on a Lottery ticket. Camelot, the National Lottery operator, manages the National Lottery infrastructure, designs new games, develops the marketing support for Lottery products, provides services for players and winners, and runs the network that sells tickets to players in partnership with 35,000 retailers UK-wide.


The Lottery distributers operate on behalf of governmental departments and once the funds are received by the distributers they become the property of the state, albeit with prescribed avenues of expenditure. Whilst, the National Lottery is a form of gambling and without doubt prohibited in Islam, according to the principles of Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Mohammed, non-Muslim are not obligated by Shariah in their own lands. Therefore, the appropriation by the state of the 28 pence from every £1 spent in the purchase of Lottery tickets is not subject to the dictates of Shariah. When this is then distributed in what are referred to as ‘good causes’ the prohibitive nature of the Lottery is not carried through to the award of Lottery funding. Therefore, it is not prohibited in principle for an Islamic institution to apply for Lottery funding to build:


  1. a) a community centre operated by the masjid;
  2. b) any other community building; or
  3. c) a masjid


Notwithstanding, as the origin of the funding is the National Lottery it is arguably bereft of any spiritual dimension and as such should be avoided by religious institutions and should not be actively sought out. Only when it is unavoidable, such as if one is employed in a community project that is wholly or partially funded by the National Lottery and one has no control over how the role is funded, should it be tolerated.


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