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I have heard that chess is haram, I would like to know if it is? if its, than why is it haram? I have thought about it's possibilities of why it might be haram, and I came up with that you are wasting your time playing, but than I realized that you are not really wasting time because in learning chess you are learning strategy and that is good to learn. So my questions are, is chess haram? if so than why is it haram?

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    A friend of mine mentioned this. I was amazed that they could even consider that it could possibly be Haram. I'd guessed the association was, as it is in bangladesh, where card-playing is frowned on; even when no gambling is not involved: that is no risk to property or money. The association between the two had caused social disapproval. – Mozibur Ullah Dec 7 '12 at 14:52
  • IslamQA – servant-of-Wiser Mar 31 '15 at 10:22
  • I had a good Muslim friend who denied to play chess with me although he said that he used to play earlier. So I thought it is haram – Santanu Debnath Jul 19 '17 at 14:24
  • The Islamic Republic of Iran hosted the Women's World Chess Championship in February 2017. If chess were haram, then why did they host? – BCLC Apr 2 at 14:07

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In short, it seems not:

Imam al-Shafi'i - Allah be well-pleased with him - who said: "It is disliked and not forbidden, for a number of the Companions played it and countless of the Tabi'in and those after them" - such as Sa'id ibn al-Musayyib, Sa'id ibn Jubayr, Muhammad ibn Sirin, Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir, 'Urwa ibn al-Zubayr and his son Hisham, Sulayman ibn Yasar, Abu Wa'il, al-Sha`bi, al-Hasan al-Basri, 'Ali ibn al-Hasan ibn 'Ali, Ja'far ibn Muhammad, Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, Rabi'a, 'Ata'... [Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, al-Tamhid (13:181)]

Full text below:

Q: Why was chess forbidden? (Muslim vol. IV,no. 5612)

'Ali and Ibn 'Umar - Allah be well-pleased with them - detested it because of those who neglected worship due to it and because of the gambling and betting involved. The Faqih of Madina, al-Qasim ibn Muhammad - Allah be well-pleased with him - said: "All that distracts from remembrance of Allah and Salat is dice (maysar)."

Otherwise, al-Nawawi said "In our school it is makruh, not haram, and this is the position reported from a number of the Tabi'in" while al-Qurtubi said in his Tafsir, it is permitted once in a while without being disliked according to the vast majority of the Fuqaha' and despite the misleading words of Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir, "Malik, Abu Hanifa, and Ahmad stipulated that chess is haram while al-Shafi`i disliked it" and the even more misleading prohibition in the unverified editions of al-Dhahabi's al-Kaba'ir presently in circulation.

It is established that Abu Hurayra (who entered Islam in the year 7 after the Hijra) and others of the pious Salaf played chess - but not as an all-consuming activity. In the final analysis the correct position in the matter seems that of Imam al-Shafi'i - Allah be well-pleased with him - who said: "It is disliked and not forbidden, for a number of the Companions played it and countless of the Tabi'in and those after them" - such as Sa'id ibn al-Musayyib, Sa'id ibn Jubayr, Muhammad ibn Sirin, Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir, 'Urwa ibn al-Zubayr and his son Hisham, Sulayman ibn Yasar, Abu Wa'il, al-Sha`bi, al-Hasan al-Basri, 'Ali ibn al-Hasan ibn 'Ali, Ja'far ibn Muhammad, Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, Rabi'a, 'Ata'... [Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, al-Tamhid (13:181)] - while the Hafiz Ibn Hajar said: "There is not one firmly-established narration to prohibit chess, neither sahih nor hasan." [Fayd al-Qadir.]

Note: The hadith "Whoever plays chess and dice is as one who dipped his hand in swine's blood" is inauthentic. The correct wording does not mention chess but only dice, narrated from Burayda by Imam Muslim in his Sahih.

Source

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    gambling and betting in chess!!! i never knew of that... – Ashu Jul 30 '12 at 19:44
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    related information: some precursors of modern chess used dice to decide which pieces could be moved each turn; i don't know if the "chess" played during the time of the prophet was the same as the chess played nowadays, or if it was one of these dicey (and thus more gambley) variants. – goldPseudo Jul 31 '12 at 16:53
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    @goldPseudo - Chess as we know it today (the variant played by most people) only appeared about 600 years or so ago. – System Down Aug 28 '13 at 18:58
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    Is it possible where to locate where al-Qurtobi made this statement in his tafsir? – Medi1Saif Jul 3 '17 at 8:06
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    @Medi1Saif I think it refers to his statement in the tafsir of verse 10:32, under point 6. – UmH Feb 22 at 6:06
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There's a difference of opinion:

  • Sunni Islam: Only the Shafi'i fiqh permits playing chess, and even then it's discouraged.

  • Shia Islam: Ayatollahs Sistani, Shirazi and Subhani say chess is forbidden, whereas Ayatollahs Khamenei and Fadlullah say it's permitted under certain conditions.

(Details below.)

The usual reasons for declaring chess haram are:

  1. it's a waste of time and has no benefit,
  2. it distracts from religious duties,
  3. it's a form of gambling, and
  4. it resembles idol worship.

Sunni Islam

Al-Azhar University prepared The Response (pdf, URL), which responds to a fatwa by Shaykh Ibn al-‘Uthaymin (Hanbali fiqh; Salafi movement), Important Questions, p. 18 which declares chess haram. They write:

Chess is not haram according to Al-Shafi‘i on three conditions: that it is played without any gambling; that it does not distract a person from performing his/her prayers [or other religious obligations]; and that there is no worthless talk during the game.

The first two of these conditions are raised at Islam Q&A (Hanbali fiqh; Salafi movement), along with generating enmity. The Response continues:

... [Echoing the view of his Imam] al-Nawawi remarks that: “according to our school of law [i.e. the Shafi‘is], chess is disliked; but it is not outlawed (haram). [In contrast to this] One group of scholars is of the opinion that chess is prohibited (haram); but, there is no hadith in support of this.

Gibril Haddad at Eshaykh.com (Shafi'i fiqh) also declares chess halal under certain conditions.

AskMufti.co.za and AskImam (Hanafi fiqh) declare it haram, and also includes the problem of resembling idol worship. A MuftiSays.com fatwa writes:

Many of the great Muslim scholars including Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad (ra) 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.

Shia Islam

Ayatollah Sistani's website currently prohibits chess:

... Playing it (chess) is absolutely forbidden even without placing a bet. And there is no difference in this, whether it is (played) with customary pieces or by computer.

Ayatollahs Shirazi and Subhani through Al Islam write:

In the view of our scholars it is a decided matter that playing with the instruments of gambling is not permitted even if there is no betting. It is possible that in the background of this decree is the philosophy that contact with those instruments needlessly make man attracted to gambling and especially regarding chess numerous traditions of Imam (a.s) have reached us that the use of the instruments of this game is prohibited in every way and by giving it the title of mental exercise it does not affect the prohibition of chess.

However Ayatollah Khamenei's website writes:

If the mukallaf recognizes that nowadays chess is no longer a gambling instrument, there is no problem in playing it without betting.

And Ayatollah Fadlullah writes:

The issue of determining if the games of amusement are prohibited or allowed doesn't depend on their nature but rather on the way every person makes use of them. For instance, once these games facilitate the way to deviation, and once the person becomes so addicted to them that he forgets his religious duties, social obligations and family responsibilities, then such games become doubtlessly prohibited. However, if they are taken for entertainment, and if no gambling or betting is associated, then chess or any other invented game is allowed.

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  • i think the more relevant question here is: what's the difference with chess and any other game/sport? re 'it's a waste of time and has no benefit, it distracts from religious duties, it's a form of gambling, and it resembles idol worship.' --> so sports are a waste of time or resemble idol worship? academia.stackexchange.com/questions/16367/… – BCLC Apr 2 at 14:04
  • The Islamic Republic of Iran hosted the Women's World Chess Championship in February 2017. If chess were haram, then why did they host? – BCLC Apr 2 at 14:11
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Islamqa quotes and cites that Most of the scholars consider it to be haram irrespective of it involving components of gambling, The hadith and sayings of Sahaba did make a distinction between gambling and Chess, yet ruled it haram

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  • i think the more relevant question here is: what's the difference with chess and any other game/sport? so all sports are all haram/gambling? academia.stackexchange.com/questions/16367/… – BCLC Apr 2 at 14:04
  • The Islamic Republic of Iran hosted the Women's World Chess Championship in February 2017. If chess were haram, then why did they host? – BCLC Apr 2 at 14:07
  • @BCLC Iran is not considered to be Islamic country by majority muslims. What they do does not demonstrate Islam. – Islam Apr 3 at 8:11
  • does islam se have or not have the same policy as christianity stackexchange in that X is christian iff X self-identifies as christian? see christianity.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/132/… or christianity.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/880/… i.e. for this site X is muslim/islamic if and only if X self-identifies as muslim/islamic? – BCLC Apr 4 at 3:57
  • Yes, its the same policy. However, the argument that because some X country does it, hence, should make it halal is a fallacy. – Islam Apr 4 at 4:23
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I think that chess is not haram. Its how the person takes it like if he or she that chess is my life and forgets his religion and all important things it is haram on him. But if he plays it just for fun and entertainment it is not haram. Whereas it is a game which brings patience to the person playing it and god always would like a patient person rather than a impatient one. So its clear that chess Is not haram .

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  • Welcome to Islam SE. Answers should be elaborate and focused on addressing the question. Claims should be supported by evidence. Please visit our tour in the help center, and refer to How to Answer. – III-AK-III Jan 4 '18 at 0:06
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Chess is haram by consensus if it involves gambling or some other haram act, such as neglecting prayer or causing harm.

If it is free from other haram, then there are at least three schools of thought on its ruling:

  1. It is still haram. This is the madhab of the Malikis and Hanbalis, and the view of al-Halimi and al-Rawyani from the Shafi'is. Their evidence includes:

    • Its prohibition has been narrated from some of the sahaba including Ali ibn Abi Talib, Ibn Umar, Ibn Abbas; and the tabi'in such as Saeed bin Musayib, Qasim, Salim, Urwah, Muhammad bin Hussain and Matr al-Waraq. See Sunan al-Bayhaqi page 357-359

    • Analogy with Nard. Nard is a game of dice on which there is mostly consensus that it is haram as there are texts which relate to that:

      من لعب بالنردشير، فكأنما صبغ يده في لحم خنزير ودمه

      Whoever plays Nardashir, it is as if he were dipping his hand in the flesh and blood of a swine.

      Sahih Muslim

      Chess is similar to if not worse than Nard because it typically involves the same vices. The players get deeply entangled in the game and become neglectful of worship and other duties. And it causes enmity and wastes a lot of time.

  2. It is makruh. This is the madhab of the Hanafis and Shafi'is, and one of the sayings of the Malikis. Their evidence is that it is an idle pastime which is included in the ahadith such as:

    كل ما يلهو به الرجل المسلم باطل إلا رميه بقوسه وتأديبه فرسه وملاعبته أهله

    All idle pastimes that the Muslim man engages in are falsehood, except for his shooting of his bow, his training of his horse, and his playing with his wife, for they are from truth.

    Jami at-Tirmidhi

  3. It is permitted. This is one of the of the alternative views of Shafi'is and Malikis and the view of Abu Yusuf from the Hanafis. Their evidence is:

    • Its permission is narrated from some of the tabi'in such as Saeed ibn Jubayr, Muhammad ibn Sirin, Sulayman ibn Yasar, Al-Shaabi and Hasan al-Basri and others.

    • the default ruling of any such matter is that it is permitted and there is no text which forbids Chess so the matter will revert to the default ruling.

    • it is closer to permissible pastimes such as archery and horse riding. As it sharpens the mind and teaches tactics and strategy - exercises which are useful for jihad.

    • It is unlike Nadr which involves guesswork and luck, while chess involves calculation and skill.


Reference:

  • Encyclopedia of Islamic Jurisprudence (الموسوعة الفقهية). See Arabic scan here and digitised version here.
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If it delays your prayer than it is haram. But some scholars say chess is ok to play and some say it is fully HARAM. Some say you can play if no gambling, alcohol or fighting (between family and friends) is engaged. Different opinions. But the sahaba say something that it is worse (chess) than dice and gambling. So to be safe don't play it. Don't play with dice either it's like dying your hand in swine or blood of a pig. Keep researching. I think there is proof of chess and all the other games in the QURAN.

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No it's not forbidden because people do not play that for betting. if they play that for betting it was haram. for example playing poker is haram now.

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The Islamic Republic of Iran is hosting the Women's World Chess Championship in February 2017. If it were haram, they wouldn't be hosting it.

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  • nice a posteriori argument. shame about the downvotes. your 2 sentence answer IMNSHO is a lot better than those treatises above – BCLC Apr 2 at 14:05
  • also this answer just makes me think the following of some of the answers: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – BCLC Apr 2 at 14:06
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don't go with person did, go to what prophet said and did. he say playing chess is haram which is hadith in sahih muslim which it is accepted book. their is also a hadith from bukhari that our prophet saw some of his fallow who were going to hell so prophet asked that they are my fallow .prophet was told that after you. so mimes (of even sahaba is not permissible in islam only to doing is what Allah and his prophet Muhammad said.

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    Please note that the hadith in Saheeh muslim does not refer to chess (that is a mistranslation) it refers to backgammon which was popular in the time of the Prophet and was play for gambling. – مجاهد Dec 23 '13 at 12:48
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    Welcome to Islam. Your answer, in it's current state, is quite difficult to understand. Please improve it. – Bleeding Fingers Dec 23 '13 at 16:35
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Yes, chess is haram/forbidden;

Sahih Muslim, Book 028, Number 5612:

Buraida reported on the authority of his father that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: He who played chess is like one who dyed his hand with the flesh and blood of swine.

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    Is that Haraam though? Eating the flesh is haram, but that is not what the hadith says. – Pureferret Mar 31 '15 at 7:02
  • If eating pigs flesh is haram, how can you possibly interpret smashing your hand in pig guts as halal? – Klutch Apr 7 '15 at 4:08
  • are you sure the transaltion is correct?! maybe really it is not written "chess" there, but "backgammon", see مجاهد's comment. – qdinar Jun 20 '17 at 6:07
  • @Klutch do not make haram what is halal, and do not make haram what is halal! this is commandment in quran, as i remember! ... quran.com/16/116 – qdinar Jun 20 '17 at 6:09
  • The hadith is mistranslated. It is about Nard, a game of dice, not chess. – UmH Feb 22 at 7:23

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