Chess banned in Saudi Arabia (again!)



Historically, chess has often been (temporarily) banned for one reason or the other and so this latest ban is not really anything new–or significant.  You might find amusing this list of chess-bans (HERE). When the last of the European Muslims were finally expelled from Spain at the beginning of the 17th century (1609), chess was temporarily banned as it was considered a negative ‘muslim’ influence. (If you are interested in history, you might want to read THIS.) Curiously, even a Pope once banned chess in the middle ages, priests being threatened with excommunication should they get caught playing chess (”get caught” are the catch words). In more recent times, the 1979 over throw of the Shah in Iran was immediately accompanied by a ban on chess playing. Chess was considered a negative western influence!


A 1979 cartoon depicting a chess match between the new Iran and the USA. LINK

IN ANY CASE, whether or not chess is debauchery, gambling or a waste of time as the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has indicated, we should remember that the more wealthy and influential Saudi’s like nothing more than debauchery, gambling and wasting their time (and money) whenever they go to Europe or America. There is nothing so typically human as a man who does not practice what he preaches…


‘Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti has ruled that chess is forbidden in Islam, saying it encourages gambling and is a waste of time. Sheikh Abdullah al-Sheikh was responding to a question on a television show in which he issued fatwas to viewers who sent in queries on everyday religious matters.


He said chess was “included under gambling” and was “a waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players”. Al-Sheikh justified the ruling by referring to the verse in the Qur’an banning “intoxicants, gambling, idolatry and divination”.  Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s supreme Shia religious authority, has previously issued rulings forbidding chess.’  Read more HERE.






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