Why Saudi Arabia’s top cleric bans chess

  • Saudi Arabia’s top cleric has supposedly forbade Muslims from playing chess
  • He says the popular game is just ‘a waste of time’ and encourages gambling and hate
  • However, a chess club official disputed the cleric’s claim and argued his pronouncement is unenforceable by law

Saudi Arabia’s highest cleric has forbidden Muslims from playing chess purportedly because it is a ‘waste of time’ and promotes an opportunity to squander money.

The kingdom’s grand mufti, Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah, issued the fatwa in time for an international competition held recently in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East Eye reported. However, the local publication clarified that Abdullah’s pronouncement does not carry the force of law.

Early this week, a video circulated on social media quoting Abdullah, considered to be the most powerful Sunni cleric in Saudi, as saying that chess is forbidden in Quran because of its resemblance to the pre-Islamic Arabian game of maisir.

“The game of chess is a waste of time and an opportunity to squander money. It causes enmity and hatred between people,” Abdullah said in response to a viewer’s question about the banning of the popular board game on his weekly TV show.

But the president of the law committee at the Saudi Chess Association, Musa Bin Thaily, said the tournament proceeded as planned despite the cleric’s warning. (Click here to read more)

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