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Saudi Arabia's highest religious official rules chess forbidden in Islam

Saudi Arabia's highest official of religious law has ruled that chess encourages gambling and is "a waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players," effectively making the game forbidden in Islam.

The announcement came when the grand mufti Sheikh Abdullah al-Sheikh was on a TV show where viewers send in questions about daily religious matters, The Guardian reports. In making his ruling, Al-Sheikh cited a verse in the Koran that outlaws "intoxicants, gambling, idolatry, and divination." However, chess likely will be considered a minor vice, like music, and frowned upon rather than actively enforced as forbidden.

Chess was once banned in Iran as well, but the ban was lifted in 1988 when then-leader Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini decided chess was permissible so long as it was not used for gambling.