Saudi fatwa banning chess stirs online outcry

Published: January 22, 2016
Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh. PHOTO: AFP

Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh. PHOTO: AFP

DUBAI: A fatwa issued by Saudi Arabia’s top cleric prohibiting chess in Islam and equating it with gambling has caused a stir on social media.

In a video of a television programme posted online, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al Sheikh appears categorical when asked about the board game in Islam.

“Chess is prohibited. It is gambling,” said Sheikh, insisting that it was a “waste of time and money and a cause for animosity between players”.

Chess forbidden in Islam, says Saudi grand mufti

The video was originally recorded about a month ago but has resurfaced online, generating strong reactions on social media in recent days.

Among those who have condemned the fatwa is Russian former world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

Lebanese television producer Nasser Fakih tweeted: “Saudi mufti has declared chess haram. Apparently this game makes you use your brain, and this is haram!”

And Twitter user @RaKaN4you said: “Ok, how about PlayStation and Xbox, halal or haram?”

Similarly, others also tweeted against ban on chess:

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But many tweets were also supportive of the cleric’s decision to issue the fatwa.

Saudi Arabia applies a strict interpretation of Sunni Islam, which imposes many restrictions, including the segregation between men and women in public, and reinforces a ban on women driving.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Insan
    Jan 22, 2016 - 10:30PM

    dont forget this cleric in BLIND Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jan 23, 2016 - 12:57AM

    The absurdity of this is just mind boggling….even the grand masters of chess must be stumped.Recommend

  • sid rush
    Jan 23, 2016 - 3:03AM

    Why, Queen has more power and no role for Mufti. Replace Queen with Mufti/Prime Minister, it will all Kosher or Halal. Recommend

  • Vaidyanathan
    Jan 23, 2016 - 5:34AM

    Since this was declared by Saudi mouth, pakistan should follow him religiously and ban playing chess in banRecommend

  • ABC
    Jan 23, 2016 - 9:24AM

    do you believe this cleric has ever seen chessRecommend

  • Aakashvaani
    Jan 23, 2016 - 9:25AM

    Really Pakistan, Is this who you pretend be you ancestors?Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Jan 23, 2016 - 10:59AM

    Ban or no ban, there are hardly any good players in Pakistan !Recommend

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