Highest Islamic cleric says game spreads ‘enmity and hatred’
Saudi Arabia calls ‘checkmate on chess’
Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh has declared chess to be forbidden in Islam when he was asked about the game on a TV show.
The Guardian reported that the top religious official said chess was ‘included under gambling’ and was a ‘waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players’.
The Qur’an bans ‘intoxicants, gambling, idolatry and divination’.
Placing bets under any circumstances is forbidden.
The holy book also states: “Allah's Messenger said: 'He who played chess is like one who dyed his hand with the flesh and blood of swine.' (Sahih Muslim Hadith 5612, Narrated by Buraydah ibn al-Hasib).”
Some Muslim scholars tend to frown upon the game because it may distract a person from performing the five daily prayers. However, they recognise that it is a skill-based game and that it is in a different category to games of chance like dice.
British chess grandmaster, Nigel Short, told the BBC that Mr Sheikh’s views means that members of the Saudi Chess Associations could be put at risk for playing the game.
“I don’t consider chess to be a threat to society. It’s not something that is so depraved as to corrupt morals,” Short said.
Tom Holland, a historian on Twitter said: “The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia sounds as though he's the most tremendous fun...”
Saudi Arabian clerics have previously issued fatwas attempting to ban the building of snowmen, Pokemon and all-you-can-eat buffets and football during the 2010 World Cup.