Pun­ters keep fin­gers crossed:

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Brian Chitemba Act­ing Re­li­gious Af­fairs Edi­tor

IN RE­CENT years, soc­cer bet­ting shops have sprouted across the coun­try.

From early morn­ing till late into the night, the bet­ting out­lets are al­ways a hive of ac­tiv­ity.

In­deed, bet­ting has be­come a big thing, not just in Zim­babwe but across the whole world. Al­though pun­ters risk their hard earned money on var­i­ous sport­ing games, the dom­i­nat­ing gam­bling bait is soc­cer, es­pe­cially when the English Pre­mier League and Span­ish La Liga are un­der­way. Only a few bet on the lo­cal soc­cer league. How­ever, some sea­soned bet­ting ad­dicts even place their money on horse and dog rac­ing.

The busi­ness seems lu­cra­tive and one lo­cal se­nior cler­gy­man and prom­i­nent busi­ness­man once op­er­ated a chain of bet­ting houses in Harare.

As more and more peo­ple are drawn by the al­lure of gam­bling, this has ig­nited de­bate on whether the prac­tice is ap­proved by re­li­gious scrip­tures. So­cial com­men­ta­tors say bet­ting is ad­dic­tive and of­ten leads to lazi­ness as those prac­tis­ing it of­ten spend a lot of time holed up in gam­bling houses.

Hos­pi­tals and Pris­ons Care Min­istries In­ter­na­tional chair Rev­erend Isaac Silumbu said the Bi­ble con­demns gam­bling.

He said, “Riches got­ten in van­ity will fly away and never come back. Ac­cord­ing to Proverbs 13 verse 11, ‘Wealth got­ten by van­ity shall be di­min­ished: but he that gath­ereth by labour shall in­crease.”

“Proverbs 23 verse 5 goes on to say, ‘Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches cer­tainly make them­selves wings; they fly away as an ea­gle to­ward heaven.”

Rev Silumbu said Chris- tians should shun bet­ting. “The wealth you gather eas­ily will have wings to fly away. Those who set their eyes on lot­tery and bet­ting as a way of earn­ing a liv­ing will even­tu­ally be dis­ap­pointed.

“Many young peo­ple, in­clud­ing uni­ver­sity grad­u­ates, have re­sorted to gam­bling as they ar­gue that there no jobs. Many ser­vants of God have also fallen prey to this un­con­trolled lust but let us re­pent and come be­fore the Lord to wor­ship Him with a clean heart,” he said.

Methodist Church in Zim­babwe cler­gy­man Rev­erend Give­more Svesve also said bet­ting is against bi­b­li­cal prin­ci­ples. He said those who be­lieve in Je­sus Christ must de­sist from gam­bling and re­sort to work­ing hard to earn their liv­ing.

“Chris­tians should not take part in gam­bling be­cause it’s against the teach­ings in the Word of God. Gam­bling breaks sev­eral bi­b­li­cal prin­ci­ples which are cen­tral to a Chris­tian’s way of life.

“A Chris­tian life­style ex­presses faith in the lov­ing care and pro­vi­sion of Almighty God, not in chance or luck (Mathew 6:33).

“A Chris­tian seeks to love his neigh­bour, not to profit from some­one else’s loss. A Chris­tian seeks to avoid every form of greed and cov­etous­ness; and to be con­tent with what he or she has (He­brews 13:5).”

Rev Svesve said be­liev­ers ought to trust in God and un­der­stand that earthly bless­ings are given by the Lord.

Cler­gy­man Apos­tle Sibiya said the love of money is the root of all evil. He pointed out that this can be seen in bet­ting be­hav­iours, which lead to bank­ruptcy in most in­stances.

He said God teaches Chris­tians to gather wealth step by step in line with Proverbs 13 verse 11.

“The Bi­ble doesn’t talk of luck but prefers that all man­ner of hu­man pros­per­ity comes from the grace and power of God, ac­cord­ing to Deuteron­omy 8 verse 18,” said Apos­tle Sibiya.

Bet­ting is also not con­doned in Is­lam. The Holy Qu­ran de­scribes such ac­tiv­i­ties as “van­ity”. Supreme Coun­cil of Is­lamic Af­fairs in Africa chair­per­son Sheikh Is­mail Duwa said bet­ting is pro­hib­ited in Is­lam as it is con­sid­ered as “haram”.

“Mus­lims are guided by God’s Word in the Holy Qur’an. Chap­ter 2 verse 188 says, “O ye who be­lieve! Eat not up your prop­erty among your­selves in van­i­ties.

“Chap­ter 5:90-91 goes on to say, “O ye who be­lieve! In­tox­i­cants and gam­bling, (ded­i­ca­tion of) stones, and (div­ina­tion by) ar­rows, are an abom­i­na­tion of Satan’s hand­i­work: es­chew such (abom­i­na­tion), that ye may pros­per. Satan’s plan is (but) to ex­cite en­mity and ha­tred be­tween you, with in­tox­i­cants and gam­bling, and hin­der you from the re­mem­brance of Al­lah, and from prayer.”

Sheikh Duwa said gam­bling in­volves giv­ing or tak­ing money de­pend­ing on some­thing whose out­come is known, which is known in the Holy Qur’an as “maysir” which is de­rived from the word “yusr”, mean­ing “ease”.

“Gam­bling is a way of ob­tain­ing un­de­served money. This makes man for­get his Cre­ator, pre­vents him from con­duct­ing pray­ers, leads him to lazi­ness, elim­i­nates his strength to work and causes grudge and en­mity among peo­ple. All kinds of gam­bling, which causes ir­repara­ble wounds in in­di­vid­ual and so­cial life, are haram in the re­li­gion of Is­lam.”

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