Is Chess Haram in Islam if we don’t do gambling and don’t miss any ibadah? or is Chess haram altogether, in every way? Let’s learn more about whether Is Chess Haram in Islam.
As far as playing chess is concerned, there is a unanimous consensus amongst all the scholars that plain chess which involves gambling or betting or which involves missing ibadah or missing salah, is prohibited. there is no difference of opinion. so while playing chess if it involves betting or gambling or any haram activity or missing your ibadah or missing a salah, it is haram. so when you ask a scholar whether Is Chess Haram in Islam, their answer would be the same. but Is Chess Haram in Islam without gambling? let’s see and understand.
Playing Chess without Gambling
But as far as playing chess for entertainment or just as recreation, which does not involve gambling, which does not involve betting, and does not involve missing any of your ibadah or missing your salah, then the scholars are divided.
1) One group of scholars says it is still haram
There’s one group of scholars who say that yet it is haram. the other group of scholars says it is permissible. the main reason that the group of scholars that say, it is haram is based on the following hadiths:-
It was narrated that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) passed by some people who were playing chess. He said, “What are these images, to which you are devoted? [cf. al-Anbiya 21:52]”
‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked about chess and he said, “It is worse than dice.”
So one group of scholars says that plain chess even if it is for entertainment if doesn’t involve gambling, doesn’t involve betting, doesn’t involve missing a salah, yet it’s haram.
2) Another group of scholars says it is permissible
While the other group of scholars was more lenient in saying that if it does not involve gambling, does not involve betting, does not involve any haram activity, and does not involve in you missing any ibadah or any salah, then it is permissible as entertainment or as recreation.
The Problem with Knight (Horse): A link to Idol worship
The scholars say that when you play chess, there are different chess pieces. the way different chess pieces are there but the only chess pieces which have a problem, as far as the image is concerned, is the knight. the knight, also known as the horse, has the image of the head of a horse, the other is the rook, which is also called a castle, also called an elephant. but it doesn’t have an image of an elephant. the other is a bishop, also called the camel, which doesn’t have an image of a camel, the other is the queen, which doesn’t have the image of the queen, and the king which doesn’t have an image of a king. The soldiers or the pawn doesn’t have the image. only one piece which has the image is the knight. it has the image of a horse and most of the chess games have a horse in which you can see the head of the horse along with the eyes, along with the mouth. but there are some chess boards in which the details of the horse are not seen, only the outline is seen. but the eyes are not seen, so the details are not there, the eyes are not there. that doesn’t become a haram image but most of them have the knight which it is very evident, the horse with all the details. the ears are seen, and the eyes are seen. but if it doesn’t have the details, it is permissible. or some chess boards they don’t have only the horse of that but most of them have.
How to solve the “Knight issue”?
So if you’re playing chess and if it has an image of a horse, the knight what can be done? you can put a helmet on that piece, on that head. so it’s headed. or you can break the head of the knight. there are two knights on each side, two on the black side and two on the white side you can put helmets on all four or break the head. or you can remove it and replace it with some other thing. so this second group of scholars, says that if it doesn’t involve gambling, doesn’t involve betting, you don’t miss your salah, don’t miss ibada and you take care of that one image which has a problem, that of the knight, then it’s permissible. so the difference of opinion as far as if it doesn’t involve this. if in doubt, better to leave it out and not play chess is the best. but if you’re a fan of chess and you like it then you can see to it, there’s no gambling, there is no betting, you don’t miss salah or ibadah. but the best is to leave it out. We hope we answered the question.
Is Online Chess Haram in Islam as well?
Well, there is not much difference between online and offline Chess. Playing online Chess is still considered haram if it involves all the haram acts like gambling, betting, drinking liquor while playing, missing salah/ ibadah, not responding to salam, wasting time for prolonged hours, etc., etc.
Conclusion: So Is Chess Haram in Islam?
The permissibility of playing chess in Islam or whether Is Chess Haram in Islam has been a topic of debate among Islamic scholars throughout history. There is no explicit mention of chess in the Quran, which is the holy book of Islam, so scholars have derived their opinions based on other Islamic principles and sources.
Some scholars from the past have deemed chess as impermissible (haram) due to various reasons. One of the main concerns raised was that playing chess could be a distraction from important religious duties and could lead to a waste of time. Additionally, there were concerns about the competitive and strategic nature of the game, which could potentially promote gambling and unhealthy rivalry.
On the other hand, some other scholars have considered chess as permissible (halal) if it is played purely for entertainment or mental exercise without involving any sinful behavior. Their argument is that as long as the game doesn’t lead to any prohibited activities and doesn’t distract one from their religious obligations, it can be considered acceptable.
Basically, Chess is haram if we are indulging in unlawful acts in it like gambling, betting, drinking liquor, missing salah/ ibadah, not responding to salam, wasting time for prolonged hours, and not hiding/ removing the Knight’s head. But may be considered halal to an extent if we do not indulge in any unlawful activities along with it, pray our Salah on time and do our ibadahs, respond to salam, play for only an hour or two, and cover/ replace the knight’s head.
And Allah knows best.
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