Is It Permissible to Play Chess?

Fatwa ID: 02659

Answered by: Aalimah Sabrina Saidova

Question:

Assalamu alaikum,

I know that according to the Hanafi Mazhab playing chess is prohibited and there are various ahadith to support their verdict whereas Imam shafi deems chess allowed.

My Question is if a person is very punctual in salah and in his azkar can he play chess once in a while just to strengthen the mind and as friendly match without any form of betting being involved? The same question is for playing cards only for fun.

Answer:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

 

Playing games such as Backgammon, Chess, Cards, Ludo etc. are all activities that people play for pass time hence Shari’ah has classified them as such entertainment & play which have been deemed as Makrooh for the one who engages in it as the Prophet (peace & blessing be upon him) has said: “All pastime (activities) of a Muslim are impermissible.” 

The following statements also support this ruling. It has been reported in Kanzul Ummal from the Messenger of Allah (peace & blessing be upon him) that: “Cursed is the one who plays Chess, and the one who looks towards it (watches it) is like the eater of swine’s flesh.”, and: “when you pass by those who play with arrows, chess, backgammon, and other similar things, then do not greet them and if they greet you, then do not reply to their greetings.”

Moreover, such activities become a common reason for people to miss their prayers and a cause for shortcomings in the fulfilment of other obligatory actions, therefore, the ruling for playing such games goes down to the ruling of ‘Makruh Tahrimi’. To add, games such as chess, backgammon, fourteen are makruh because they were from amongst the games of the Jews. [1]

This is why Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Milk, and Imam Ahmad deemed such games as disliked. There’s a report from Qadhi Abu Yusuf that he has stated that there is nothing wrong with playing chess, but this is only when it doesn’t involve gambling, it isn’t played consistently, and it doesn’t get in the way of the waajibaat, or else it would be haram by consensus.” [2]

Therefore, if playing chess or cards do not come in the way of your waajibaat, then playing it once in a while, although will still be makruh, but it will be Makruh Tanzihi.

 

[1] Mowjooda khel kood aur un ke shar’i ahkaam

[2] Raddul Muhtaar 6/394, Darul Fikr Beirut

 

And Allah knows best

Answered by Aalimah Sabrina Saidova

Checked and approved Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

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