Fatwas on Chess
Q1109: Playing chess has become commonplace in most schools. Do you sanction it and organizing courses to teach it?
A: From the mukallaf’s perspective, should it not now be considered among the instruments of gambling, there is no objection to playing it provided that no betting is involved.
Q1110: What is the ruling on playing for amusement, such as with a deck of cards, especially when there is no betting involved?
A: Playing with that which is considered by common view among the instruments of gambling is absolutely ḥarām, even if it is just for amusement and without placing a bet.
Q1111: What is the ruling on chess in the following situations?
1. The manufacture, sale, and purchase of chess instruments [chessboard/chessmen].
2. Playing chess with/without a bet.
3. Establishing centers at public places where it could be played, taught, or promoted.
A: Should the mukallaf be of the opinion that chess is not considered now among gambling instruments, there is no objection to their being manufactured, sold, bought, and played with — but without betting. The same rule is applied to its teaching.
Q1112: Can the mukallaf deem the approval of the physical education department to hold chess competitions as an indication that chess is not among the instruments of gambling? And is it permissible for the mukallaf to depend on such a thing?
A: The yardstick in specifying the instance of rulings is the determination of the mukallaf himself or his having a shar‘ī proof to that effect.
Q1113: What is the ruling on playing chess and billiard, for example, with non-Muslims in foreign countries? And what is the ruling on money spent in this avenue, although not in betting?
A: We have already dealt with the subject of playing with chess and gambling instruments in the preceding questions. However, the ruling is universal insofar as engaging in such an activity, i.e., be it in Muslim or foreign countries. Playing with Muslims or non-Muslims is also immaterial. It is not permissible to sell or buy gambling instruments, or spend any money in such an avenue.
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