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.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.