Fatwa: # 45329
Category: Hadith
Country:
Date: 3rd September 2020

Title

Hadith on Chess - Which narrations are authentic & which are not?

Question

Assalamualykum Mufti sahab,

can you please answer this excerpt regarding the fabrications of the hadiths pertianing to chess and how chess is not a futile activity:

"

1) Habbah ibn Muslim/Salam (rahimahullah) reports that Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

A person who plays chess is cursed and those who watch are like the consumer of pig meat.

Hafiz Dhahabi (rahimahullah) has classifed the above hadith as EXTREMELY WEAK (MUNKAR).

(See: Faydul Qadir, Hadith: 8209 and As Sirajul Munir, vol. 3 pg. 306)

2) Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

The one who plays chess is like one who consumes swine, and the one who watches is like one who inserts his hands into the blood of a swine.

(Daylami, Hadith: 5509)

Hafiz Suyuti (rahimahullah) has recorded this Hadith in his book on FABRICATED narrations.

(Refer: Tanzihush Shari’ah, vol. 2 pg. 234) (Also see Targhib, vol. 4 pg. 49, Al Maqasidul Hasanah, Hadith: 1175)

Companions and some of the second generation of scholars allowed chess. Among those were Ibn `Abbas, Abu Hurayrah, Ibn Sirin, Hisham bin `Umrah, and Sa`id Ibn Al-Musayyib. We agree with those great jurists, since the original principle is the permissibility of acts and no text is to be found prohibiting it.

Moreover, in addition to being a game and a recreation, chess is also a mental exercise which requires thought and planning. In this respect, it is the opposite of backgammon, for while backgammon is a game of chance and therefore comparable to divining with arrows, chess is a game of skill and strategy, which may be compared to archery.

However, playing chess is permissible only if 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."

1) If according to this exceprt, there is no authnetic narration to claim that chess is haram, it has many benefits to increase intelligence (and you can make the niyyah to utilise this for islam), there is no gambling involved, you can limit yourself to the time playing and make sure you don't negelct any of your duties then how can such an activity be classified as even makrooh by hanafis? 

 

Jazak'Allah

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

According to the Hanafi Madhab, it is not permissible to play chess. See the following statements of the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) on the prohibition of chess:

عن علي أنه كان يقول: " الشطرنج هو ميسر الأعاجم (شعب الإيمان: 6097)

Translation: Ali (Radhiyallahu Anhu) said: “Chess is the gambling of non-Arabs.”

(Shu’ab Al-Iman” 6097)

أن أبا موسى الأشعري قال: لا يلعب بالشطرنج إلا خاطئ (شعب الإيمان: 6097)

Translation: Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (Radhiyallahu anhu) said: “Only a sinner plays chess.” (Shu’ab Al-Iman: 6097)

عن ابن عمر أنه سئل عن الشطرنج فقال: هي شر من النرد (شعب الإيمان: 6097)

Translation: Ibn Umar (Radhiyallahu Anhu) was asked regarding chess. He replied: It is worse than backgammon. (Shu’ab Al-Iman: 6097)

أن أبا سعيد الخدري كان يكره أن يلعب بالشطرنج (شعب الإيمان: 6097)

Trabslation: Abu Saeed Al-Khudri (Radhiyallahu Anhu) disliked the playing of chess. (Shu’ab Al-Iman: 6097)

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

 

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