Question: Is there any reference that shows playing chess is Haram in islam? And in which cases it will be Haram?
- Is Playing Chess Haram in Islam if we play for Entertainment without Gambling or betting?
- 1. The Group of Scholars who says Playing Chess is Haram:
- 2. The Group of Scholars who says Playing Chess is not Haram If we follow certain Conditions:
- Fatawa on Playing Chess:
- Companions’ views on playing Chess:
All the Scholars agrees on one thing that Playing Chess which involves Gambling, betting or any type of haram activity for example missing Salah or Ibadah, disobeying Parents etc. is prohibited in Islam.
Is Playing Chess Haram in Islam if we play for Entertainment without Gambling or betting?
As for as Playing Chess for entertainment which does not involve any haram activity is Haram in Islam or not there are difference of opinions amongst the scholars that playing chess is haram or not, there are two groups of Scholars one who says Playing chess is Haram and other one says we can play chess but with certain conditions.
So, we will explain the points of both groups of scholars in detail.
1. The Group of Scholars who says Playing Chess is Haram:
Scholars who say playing Chess is Haram in Islam is based upon the Hadith which is mentioned in Sunan al Qubra in which
Hazrat Ali R.A. says when he sees People Playing Chess that What are you doing? Are you worshipping Idols? (Sunan al Qubra (Al Bayhaqi) - 20929)
Based upon the above hadith one group of Scholars says that chess consists of miniature idols (pawns, bishops, queen, etc.) Chess requires a lot of thinking and pondering. When players sit and ponder their next move, it is as if they are meditating over these idols. It thus resembles idol-worship. The idolaters of the past used to sit in deep meditation in front of their idols and since Hazrat Ali R.A. was against it so even if the chess is played for Entertainment purpose (without gambling or betting or any Haram activity) it is prohibited in Islam.
Chess takes up a lot of time and makes the player oblivious of his surroundings. This causes him to miss Salah, and to neglect important religious and social duties. Experience has shown that this always happens.
The evidence of the Quran is the words (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), and gambling, and Al-Ansab [stone altars set up for sacrifices to idols etc], and Al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaytan’s (Satan’s) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful.
Shaytan (Satan) wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from As-Salah (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain?” [Al-Maidah 5:90-91]
Al-Qurtubi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“This verse indicates that it is haram to play dice or chess , whether that involves gambling or not, because when Allah forbade alcohol He explained the reason for that, which is ‘Shaytan (Satan) wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from the prayer.’
So every kind of game in which a little leads to a lot and stirs up enmity and hatred between those who are devoted to it and prevents them from remembering Allah and praying, is like drinking alcohol, which implies that it must be haram like alcohol.” (Al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Quran, 6/291)
2. The Group of Scholars who says Playing Chess is not Haram If we follow certain Conditions:
The Second group of Scholars says that if we play Chess for Entertainment purpose which does not includes gambling or betting, missing Salah or Ibadah, or any Haram activity then you can play the Chess as Entertainment game but,
When we play chess there are various elements like King, Queen, bishops etc. but there is an element which has problem as image is concerned is Knight (Horse) because the Knight which is also known as Horse is have head of Horse and all other elements does not contain any Images so as far as Horse element if the details of horse head is visible then it is not allowed and if the details of horse head like eyes, ears etc. are not visible then it is permissible to play Chess.
So, make sure you remove the Horse element or put helmet on horse elements or just replace the horse element with another elements.
So, if you do not include gambling or betting or any Haram activity and you also replaces the Horse elements then you can Play the Chess.
Fatawa on Playing Chess:
Imam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“When chess distracts us from what we are obliged to do both inwardly and outwardly, it is haram according to the consensus of the scholars – such as when it distracts from an obligatory duty such as prayer or anything that is necessary in the interests of oneself or one’s family, or enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, or upholding ties of kinship or honouring one’s parents, or any obligations connected to positions of authority or leadership, etc.
In this case it is haram according to the consensus of the scholars. Similarly, if it involves anything that is haram such as telling lies, swearing false oaths, cheating, wrongdoing or helping in wrongdoing, or other forbidden things, then it is haram according to the consensus of the Muslims.” (Adapted from Majmu’ al-Fatawa, 32/218, 240)
Companions’ views on playing Chess:
- Hazrat Ali R.A. says when he sees People Playing Chess that What are you doing? Are you worshipping Idols? (Sunan al Qubra (Al Bayhaqi) – 20929).
- Abu Dawud (4938) narrated from Abu Musa al-Ash’ari that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever plays dice has disobeyed Allah and His Messenger.” (Classed as sahih by al-Albani in Sahih Abi Dawud, 4129).
- Muslim (2260) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever plays dice is like one who has dipped his hand in the flesh and blood of a pig.” Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “This hadith is quoted as evidence by al-Shafi`i and the majority of scholars to prove that playing dice is haram. The phrase ‘dipped his hand in the flesh and blood of a pig’ refers to eating it, and this simile is used to show that this is haram because it is haram to eat that.”
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