Azizi Khalid

February 14, 2022

Cost Benefit Analysis

Quran & Cost Benefit Analysis

On our way back from Qaswa Hifz class 2 years ago we passed by a lottery advertisement and Sumayyah was interested to know about the mechanism behind it. How could people win so much money. When I explained to her how it worked she said, “That’s gambling, isn’t it?”

“Yes, darling. And can Muslims gamble?” I asked her.


“Why not?” I prodded.

“Some people go bankrupt from gambling,” Sumayyah replied.

“But don’t you think there is some good in gambling? You spend $10 and stand the chance to win $10 million?”

“Yeah, but...”

I can sense her brain is going on full steam trying to compute the benefit of gambling.

“Do you know that the Quran tells us that there is some benefit from gambling. There can even be some benefit from liquor,” I said.

“Really?” Sumayyah was baffled.

“In surah al-Baqarah aya 219 Allah said that Rasulullah was once asked about the ruling on liquor and gambling. Allah told Rasulullah to tell the people that there is great harm in those two activities and some benefit from it. But the harm is greater.

“Yes, you can earn lots of money from gambling if you win. But how many people get to win the lottery? You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than winning a lottery. And many people get addicted to gambling because it give you a sense of false hope. That’s how people go bankrupt. And if the gambler is a dad or a mom, even the children will suffer. As the family will not have enough money for important stuffs like food and education.”

“But how is drinking liquor beneficial?” Sumayyah asked.

“Well to some people that is a way they relax. Some research claim that in small doses wine can be good for the heart. But the harm from drinking liquor is much greater. When humans lose their intellect, they can behave worse then animals. Many lives have been lost from car accidents due to drunk driving. Many children abused because of drunk parents.

“The Quran admits that there may be some benefit in it, but the harm is greater. So what can we learn from this?”

“That somethings are just so bad that it is not worth doing?” Sumayyah answered.

“Yes. One important lesson from this aya is about Cost Benefit Analysis,” I added to her answer.

“Cost what?”

“Cost Benefit Analysis. What are the cost and benefits of every action that we want to do. For every decision that we take in live, there is a cost and benefit to it. So we should analyse it and weigh, is the cost more than the benefit, or the benefit is more than the cost.

“For example, when you want to cross a busy street. You can either just cross or wait for the pedestrian light to turn green.”

“You should wait, of course,” said Sumayyah.

“Yes, the answer is obvious. But let’s analyse the cost and benefit. If you don’t wait, the cost may be your life. You may get into a car accident and get seriously injured. Or maybe die. What is the benefit? You get to cross the road 3 minutes earlier than people who waited for the light to turn green.

“Now is your life worth the 3 minutes?”

“Of course not.” 

“Now that is Cost Benefit Analysis. Sometimes the benefit is so trivial, like it makes me feel good or it is fun or it makes me happy. But the cost is high, like it may ruin families, children abused, going bankrupt like the cases of gambling and liquor.”

“So every time before I make a decision, I should analyse the pros and cons?” she asked.

“Yes. And more importantly we should analyse, is our action going to bring us closer to Allah or further away from Him. No benefit can be greater than getting the pleasure of Allah.

“Okay, we are home. Let’s eat dinner.”

Azizi Khalid
Making Islamic education fun at Qaswa House
Towards the Middle Path