Chess is one of brain games. It is very often done in the spare time. Even today, chess becomes one of sports that is raced in many regions. However, until now the game of chess is often argued by some groups about the law of playing chess, the positive and negative of it.
Some Ulama look chess as a positive game because it can sharp the brain to be more active. But Others consider chess as a time waster and a disadvantage activity, instead it make human to neglect his times or another obligations.
Because of that, let us discuss together about the law of playing chess in Islam. So, we can act this game wisely.
See also : Law of hunting in Islam
The Law of Playing Chess in Islam
Here are the law of playing chess in Islam that still become a controversy. Let see its explanations and dalil :
The law of playing chess is haram, it is looked from negatives effects of it, such as the player can neglect his times and obligations or even he forgets to eat and others needs because he becomes so absorbed in chess.
Syaikhul Islam explained about this matter, that :
The game of chess, if it keeps someone busy, so he leaves his obligations, then Ulama agree that the law of playing chess is haram. For example, the game of chess can forget the obligation of prayers, individual and family needs that he must fulfill, amar ma’ruf nahi munkar, silaturrahmi, commit to parents, or the obligations of leader, then the law is haram according to the agreement of Moslems.
Likewise, when this game of chess contains haram contents such as lying, perjury, treachery, gambling, bet, absolutism, help vice, or all of haram actions, then the law is haram according to teh agreement of Moslems. (Majmu’ Fatwa)
Some Ulama argue that the law of playing chess is haram such as Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad and some of Syafiiyah Ulama.
It is based on some dalis, such as :
The word of Allah SWT in Surah Al-Maidah verse 90 – 91 which reads :
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ إِنَّمَا ٱلۡخَمۡرُ وَٱلۡمَيۡسِرُ وَٱلۡأَنصَابُ وَٱلۡأَزۡلَٰمُ رِجۡسٞ مِّنۡ عَمَلِ ٱلشَّيۡطَٰنِ فَٱجۡتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تُفۡلِحُونَ ٩٠ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ ٱلشَّيۡطَٰنُ أَن يُوقِعَ بَيۡنَكُمُ ٱلۡعَدَٰوَةَ وَٱلۡبَغۡضَآءَ فِي ٱلۡخَمۡرِ وَٱلۡمَيۡسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمۡ عَن ذِكۡرِ ٱللَّهِ وَعَنِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةِۖ فَهَلۡ أَنتُم مُّنتَهُونَ ٩١
“O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to others than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.
Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?” (Q.S. Al-Maidah : 90 – 91)
Al-Qurthubi interpreted about the meaning of this verse, according to him, this verse shows that playing dice and chess are haram, both its goal is gambling or not. Besides that, when Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala forbids khamr, Allah implies what the contains of that game in His words (which means):
“Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer.” [AdSense-B]
Then all of games that can trigger a enmity and hate each other between players, hinder someone to remember Allah and do prayer, then the status is as same as drinking khamr. So they must be also haram, like drinking khamr. (Tafsir al-Qurthubi)
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Besides that, the prohibition of playing chess is also explained in the story of the Prophet’s companions. For example, the history of Maisarah an-Nahdi, that one day Ali bin Abi Thalib radhiallahu ‘anhu passed a group who was playing chess, then he insinuated them with mentioning the verse 52 of Surah Al-Anbiya which reads :
إِذۡ قَالَ لِأَبِيهِ وَقَوۡمِهِۦ مَا هَٰذِهِ ٱلتَّمَاثِيلُ ٱلَّتِيٓ أَنتُمۡ لَهَا عَٰكِفُونَ ٥٢
“When he said to his father and his people, “What are these statues to which you are devoted?” (Q.S. Al-Anbiya : 52)
Then this matter is also discussed in a hadith that :
“Someone touched an ember until it gone, it was better for him than he tauched chess.” (Narrated by al-Baihaqi)
Imam Ahmad added that :
The most shahih narration of chess is the explanation of Ali bin Abi Thalib. (ay-Syarhul Kabir Ibn Qudamah)
Even when he was asked by companion, Ibn Umar rahiallahu ‘anhuma has explained that “That game is worse than dice.”
Then a hadith of Ibn Syihab stated that Abu Musa al-Asy’ari has said:
“No one who plays chess, except those who sin.” (Narrated by Baihaqi)
About the game of chess has been mentioned that “That is a sleaze and Allah does not love the sleaze.” By Ibn Syihab az-Zuhri who was asked by a companion.
Other hadith state about the law of chess that was narrated by Ibn Abi Laila, that :
“Companions consider people who see a chessboard as people who see pork. While people who move pawn like people who flip pork.” (Narrated by Ibn Abi Syaibah)
Ibn Qudamah, one of Ulama mentioned that the law of playing chess is haram, he said that :
“For playing chess, it is haram as playing dice.” (al-Mughni)
At the first point, it has been discussed that the law of playing chess is haram, if that game makes us to neglect our times, obligations and other needs. But if that game does not make us to neglect our times and obligations, then the law is not haram.
Imam Syafii argued that the law of playing chess is makruh. This is based on the explanation of Adz-Dzahabi who told that an-Nawawi has been asked about the law of playing chess, then he answered :
“If it causes many people miss the time of prayer, or play it with bet, then it is haram. If not, the law is makruh according to Syafi’i, and haram according to other Ulama.” (al-Kabair)
But, the law of makruh that is mentioned need to be explored again because the term of makruh that is mentioned in the law of playing chess is based on Ulama devotion.
So, they do not affirm the prohibition of playing chess and they only use the common term such as Allah SWT hate people who play chess. Indeed, only Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala who has right to affirm the law of halal and haram.
Thus the explanation about the law of playing chess in Islam. Be wise in everything. Including in playing chess, if there is an activity that more positive than chess, then you should be better choose that activity.
Hopefully this article can add our knowledge and increase our faith to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala. Amen.
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