Chess forbidden in Islam, rules Saudi mufti, but issue not black and white

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Zia H Shah, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times: “If the Mufti can endorse the killing of innocents in Yemen; he should be able to allow anything on our planet earth.”

Source: The Guardian

By in Beirut

Game likely to take on status of minor vices such as music after Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh says it encourages gambling

Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti has ruled that chess is forbidden in Islam, saying it encourages gambling and is a waste of time.

Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh was answering a question on a television show in which he issues fatwas in response to viewers’ queries on everyday religious matters.

He said chess was “included under gambling” and was “a waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players”.

Sheikh justified the ruling by referring to the verse in the Qur’an banning “intoxicants, gambling, idolatry and divination”. It is not clear when the fatwa was delivered.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s supreme Shia religious authority, has previously issued rulings forbidding chess.

After the 1979 Islamic revolution, playing chess was banned in public in Iran and declared haram, or forbidden, by senior clerics because it was associated with gambling. But in 1988, Iran’s then supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, lifted the ban and said it was permissible as long as it was not a means of gambling. Iran now has an active confederation for playing chess and sends players to international games.

Moves to suppress chess are likely to have come as a surprise to the seventh-century Muslims who conquered Persia and adopted the game before exporting it to Europe.

Muslim scholars tend to place chess, a skill-based game, in a different category from games of chance, such as dice, but frown upon it if it distracts a person from performing the five daily prayers. Placing bets under any circumstances is forbidden.

Nigel Short, the British chess grandmaster, told the BBC that forbidding chess in Saudi Arabia would be a “great tragedy”. “I don’t consider chess to be a threat to society. It is not something that is so depraved as to corrupt morals,” he said. “Even Ayatollah Khomeini came to the conclusion that he’d gone too far and repealed his own ban.”

The region’s clerical establishment figures are no strangers to seemingly strange fatwas, or edicts. In the early 2000s, Saudi and other clerics issued a fatwa against the popular Pokémon franchise, and during football’s 2010 World Cup in South Africa, religious scholars in the United Arab Emirates said that using the widely reviled vuvuzela instrument was forbidden if the sound produced was above 100 decibels.

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4 replies

  1. Islam was born in Saudi Arabia. thousands Muslim go to Meccah for pilgrims every year.

    Most Muslim and non Muslim around the world, what ever FATWA of Muslim scholars from Saudi Arabia believe as Syariah laws. or true Islam. Even not written in Al Quran,

    For example;
    Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti has ruled that chess is forbidden in Islam.

    This mufti uses the name of Islam..
    He claims that chess is forbidden in Islam.–Music also is forbidden–women is forbidden to sing—women is forbidden to use perfume–etc

    Does Muslim Ahmadiyah support this fatwa?

    Was Salam

  2. If the Mufti can endorse the killing of innocents in Yemen; he should be able to allow anything on our planet earth.

    I say paying attention to this Mufti is forbidden in Islam, but, “it is not black and white.”

  3. To claim chess is forbidden in Islam is completely absurd – its a game and does not involve things such as gambling so im pretty sure that its not haram or anything like that.
    However music is pretty much forbidden in Islam – but to be honest with you the music of today is really disgusting – most objectify women and degrade them and also teach people bad manners through the use of vulgur language.
    I dont really know much about the other two things mentioned but i believe their are some restrictions on the last thing mentioned

  4. Most of Muslim and non Muslim around the world have been deceived by Muslim Scholars from Saudi Arabia

    They think that whatever that come from Saudi Arabia is Islamic —-actually not.

    Was salam

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