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This Omani imam won $640,000, and turned it down Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

This Omani imam won $640,000, and turned it down

The Omani imam returned the prize citing religious reasons [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 April, 2017

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A 70-year-old Muslim imam in Oman won a prize of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a raffle but returned the money to the bank, due to religious obligations.

For most people lucky enough to win a cash prize the first point of action would usually be to book a long and expensive holiday abroad, or perhaps a new sports car.

The first thing this Omani imam did after finding out he had won over half a million dollars when his account was selected in a bank raffle was to return the prize money.

Sheikh Ali al-Ghaithi, who holds an account with the National Bank of Oman, was entered into an annual raffle where a lucky customer is picked at random to win a 250,000 Omani rial (more than $640,000) cash prize.

The 70-year-old received a call from the bank notifying him of his "good fortune" on Tuesday, however the imam of the local mosque said he rejected the prize due to religious reasons.

"They told me I was fortunate but it is not 'fortune' to win money I have not earned. Islamic laws say I cannot keep such money, so I told my bank to keep it. It is that simple," Sheikh al-Ghaithi told UAE daily The National.

The bank confirmed the rejection, stating it is not the first time a customer in Oman had won a raffle draw and returned the money.

Last year, another bank customer won 100,000 Omani rials (more than $260,000) in the annual raffle but rejected the money on religious grounds, the spokesman said.

According to some interpretations of Islamic law, raffles and lotteries are impermissible and are regularly likened to gambling - an action strictly prohibited in Islam.

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