Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti has ruled that chess is forbidden in Islam, saying it encourages gambling and is a waste of time.
Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh was answering a question on a television show in which he issues fatwas in response to viewers’ 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”.
Sheikh justified the ruling by referring to the verse in the Qur’an banning “intoxicants, gambling, idolatry and divination”. It is not clear when the fatwa was delivered.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s supreme Shia religious authority, has previously issued rulings forbidding chess.