Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti thinks that chess is evil and only makes people hate each other. He has also announced chess as “haram”. According to Middle East Eye, he has declared this statement in a video clip.
The clip has been circulated in social media platforms. Although, the video attracted the attention of media on Thursday, the clip is actually believed to have been broadcasted in 2014
The ancient game which is very popular in the Golf kingdom is nothing but a “waste of time” for the highest official of religious law. Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah, the grand mufti commented, “the game of chess is a waste of time and an opportunity to squander money. It causes enmity and hatred between people”.
.He added, “it makes rich man poor, and makes the poor man rich.”
He also compared chess, considered to have originated from India, with the pre-Islamic game of maisir in which participants shoot arrows to gain camel meet. Noteworthy is the fact that maisir is a game forbidden by Quran. He justified his opinion by stating the verse in the Quran banning “intoxicants, gambling, idolatry, and divination”.
Abdullah is the most powerful Sunni religious figure in Saudi Arabia. However, his opinion is not taken as a formal edict which could ban the game in the kingdom.
Nigel Short, the British chess grandmaster said, “I don’t consider chess to be a threat to society. It is not something that is so depraved as to corrupt moral.”
Referring to Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini he commented, “even Ayatollah Khomeini came to conclusion that he had gone too far and repealed his own ban”.
In Iran chess was banned after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The ban was declared by the senior clerics of the country as it was associated with gambling. However, Khomeini, Iran’s then supreme leader, lifted the ban and said that it was permissible, as long as, it was not associated with gambling. The country now sends players to international gaming events.