Thursday, September 01, 2005

Chess and Islam

It's all a bit confusing in Iraq. And that's, I guess, putting it mildly. When asked by a follower if chess is permissible in Islam, the country's preeminent Shiite cleric, Ali al Sistani, answered: "Chess is abolutely forbidden!"

Yet just a couple of days ago, the Communications and Post Minister had honoured the Iraqi Female Chess Champion!

For more on this issue - you can read a short discussion here or a longer but well considered one here. Basically, the situation does not appear to be clear. Some, like The Bishop of Hip Hop, reckon that chess is definitely allowed provided the following conditions are met:

1- One should not get so absorbed in it that he delays his prayer; chess is well-known to be a stealer of time.

2- There should be no gambling involved.

3- The players should not utter obscenities or vulgarities. If any of these conditions are not met it should be considered as haram


Milan Lee said...

Funny enough, chess was brought to Europe via Arabian califat Cordoba in Spain.

First chess scripts were also writen by great arabian minds.

I refuse to believe that these statements are in the spirit of islam.

The Closet Grandmaster said...

As with almost anything to do with Islam, it is inevitably the most sensational statements, by controversial persons, that attract attention. The truth is, and as I mentioned, opinion on the place of chess in Islam differs quite markedly amongst muslims. But putting all that aside - it is very difficult to believe that chess should be subject to special sanctions unders Islamic law. So I'm with you Goran. I reckon it's just a bunch of crackpots, with their more worldly ambitions talking, than any genuine concern for the spiritual health of their flock.

Anonymous said...

CGM, it appears that whilst playing chess as such as banned by the religious law, it is permissible to construct and solve "chess problems" (i.e. mate in 2, series helpmate in 5, etc). These are possibly regarded as "art" and therefore are not a problem?