Is Chess Haram In Islam?


chess board
Photo Courtesy:  Jani Kaasinen

Chess is played regularly by over 600 million adults worldwide – some people even play chess professionally as their primary source of income. But is it halal? (source)

Most scholars agree that playing chess is haram if there is any sort of gambling involved. However, if there is no gambling, there is a difference in viewpoints between scholars.

Table of Contents:

1- Why Do Some Islamic Scholars Consider Chess To Be Haram?
2- Is Chess Haram If You Don’t Gamble?
3- Why Do Some Islamic Scholars Consider Playing Chess To Be Halal?
4- Is It A Sin To Play Chess?

1- Why Do Some Islamic Scholars Consider Chess To Be Haram?

There are multiple reasons why some Islamic scholars consider playing chess to be haram. 

One of these reasons would be because they believe it is distracting.

These scholars claim playing chess prevents Muslims from remembering their daily prayers, their social obligations such as their job and upholding ties with their families, claiming it is worse than alcoholic consumption (in that regard) when a player immerses themselves in the game.

Those against playing chess quote Ibn al-Qayyim (May Allah have mercy on him) in Al Furoosiyah, when he said that the evil consequences of chess are greater than that of dice (source).

Some scholars even claim that playing chess is similar to shirk (which means ascribing partners to Allah) and state that playing chess is not permissible under any circumstances.

This claim is due to their belief in the game’s power to make the player oblivious to their responsibilities and its ability to ruin the Muslim family life (source).

Another reason some scholars believe it is haram is because of its resemblance to idol worship.

These scholars compare playing a game of chess to meditating over idols such as pawns, queens, knights, etc (source).

2- Is Chess Haram If You Don’t Gamble?

Not all scholars believe that it is haram, some scholars believe that playing chess is only slightly disliked (makruh) but not haram as long as no financial or similar gain or loss is involved. (source)

Some scholars (those who believe chess is a form of gambling) claim it is haram to play chess under any circumstances, even without stakes involved – this is due to their belief that Muslims should not play with articles used in gambling in one way or another (source).

As you might have understood, this is where there is a difference in viewpoints. Some scholars believe it is haram to play chess even if you don’t gamble, and others believe it is permissible under certain circumstances.

3- Why Do Some Islamic Scholars Consider Playing Chess To Be Halal?

Some scholars believe that chess is permissible for Muslims under certain conditions.

These conditions include:

  • Not using vulgar (unacceptable language) while playing
  • Making sure the game does not affect their daily prayers
  • Not playing for financial (or similar) benefit, gain nor loss
  • Not developing an addiction to the game
  • Using the game for intellectual stimulation rather than simply a mean to waste the player’s time (source)

Other scholars do not consider chess to be haram due to different interpretations of the fatwas.

These scholars believe that no direct mention of chess being haram is present (if there is no gambling involved) therefore it can not definitely be ruled as haram (source)

Some scholars go against claiming chess is haram because it is a waste of time because, in today’s world, we regularly engage in leisurely time-wasting activities such as social media applications and video games. (source)

4- Is It A Sin To Play Chess?

The one thing the majority of scholars agree on is that it is a sin to play chess if there is gambling involved. This is regardless of whether there is a loss or a gain.

However, under the assumption that no gambling is involved, some scholars do not consider playing chess in a sin.  (source)

Some scholars maintain their belief that chess is a sin, regardless of if there is any gambling present. This is because they believe Satan encourages individuals to play with articles of gambling (source).

The mission of this website is to remain unbiased throughout our articles and provide you with the information needed to make educated decisions – we hope this article helped you do so.

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