WEB DESK: Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti has said that playing chess is forbidden in Islam.
He said that while addressing a question and answer session on a television channel in which he issued the fatwa on playing chess.
He said that chess was included in gambling and was a “a waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players”.
Sheikh justified the ruling by referring to the verse in the Qur’an banning “intoxicants, gambling, idolatry and divination”. It is not clear when the fatwa was delivered.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s supreme Shia religious authority, has previously issued a decree in 1979 forbidding chess in public as it was associated with gambling. In 1988, Iran’s then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini lifted the ban. Now Iran is an active confederation for playing chess and sends players to international games.
Nigel Short, the British chess grandmaster, told the BBC that forbidding chess in Saudi Arabia would be a “great tragedy”. “I don’t consider chess to be a threat to society. It is not something that is so depraved as to corrupt morals,” he said. “Even Ayatollah Khomeini came to the conclusion that he’d gone too far and repealed his own ban.”
It is likely that the ruling will be place in the list of other smaller vice like listening to music.