Chess and Islam

Some people claim that the game of chess increases ones wit and intelligence, and it assists one in learning the ways of battles. This claim is unreasonable. Chess has nothing to do with wit or intelligence; on the contrary intelligence suffers a derangement by this game. The player of chess becomes so absorbed in this game that he has no care or concern for anything else. Yes there is no surprise in the fact that by constant playing, ones ability to manoeuvre the various ways and moves of the game improves. But then what is the benefit of this gain? Similarly this game has no relationship with the strategies of battle or war. The act of the game is limited to its technical or ordinary manoeuvres e.g. the knight moves so and the elephant moves so. In true and real battles these are not the moves to be found. The manoeuvres of war are totally distinct and separate. In short both these claims are absurd.

Some claim that according to the Mazhab (school of thoughts) of Imam Shafi’ee R A the playing of chess is permissible but it must be stated that this was the first view of the great imam but even then he fixed certain conditions for its permissibility, e.g. involvement in the game must not be to the extent that the performance of Salaat is delayed from its fixed time; the game must not be played abundantly; absorption in it must not be so much that the answer to someone’s salaam is not given, etc. These conditions are not to be found these days when this game is being played. It is also a fact that Imam Shafiee later withdrew of chess being permissible.

Many of the great Muslim scholars have clearly stated the prohibition and non-permissibility of chess. Imam Malik RA said that it is worse than the game of nard (backgammon, which is also haram) and more destructive than gambling.

Hadhrat Ali May Allah be pleased with him also said:
“Chess is gambling of the Ajam people (non Arabs)”

The prophet Peace and Blessings be upon himj said:
He who plays Backgammon has disobeyed Allah Ta’ala and His (Rasool) Peace and Blessings be upon himj.”

The playing of chess is Haraam. If the playing of chess is accompanied by gambling than its prohibition is unanimous. If it is played without gambling then there is a difference of opinion in its prohibition. Where Allah Ta’aala declared alcohol and gambling as forbidden, he explained the reason for this prohibition. Allah says in the Holy Quran that Shaytan desires to create an ill feeling amongst you. He desires to create hatred among you, and to direct your attention from Salaat and Allah Taa’las remembrance. So wherever this is present, the prohibition will come into force, and that practice will become Haraam. All are aware of the degree of absorption in these games.

Absorption in this game (chess) is so much, that we seek the protection of Allah Ta’ala. The truth of the matter is that when someone becomes rooted in some practice and this practice penetrates his very blood and veins, then until death it remains overpowering, and in this very practice a man finally dies.

Other Links:
Imitating the Disbelievers
The Evils of Gambling
Inter-Islam: AudioEvils of Music - Maulana Mahmood Chandia
Inter-Islam: AudioDope! - Intoxicants - Shaykh Ahmad Ali

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