Is it Haram to Play Chess? Evaluating the Religious Perspective


Chess, a strategic board game that has been played for centuries, has sparked debates among religious scholars regarding its permissibility in Islam. Some argue that playing chess is haram (forbidden), while others find it permissible or even recommendable. This article aims to evaluate the religious perspective on playing chess and shed light on the reasoning behind various viewpoints.

is it haram
Is playing chess considered haram or not?

The Haram Viewpoint

Some scholars argue that playing chess is haram due to several reasons. First, they claim that it encourages gambling, as players usually engage in betting on the outcome of the game. Gambling is strictly prohibited in Islam as it promotes an unjust increment of wealth and may lead to addictive behavior.

Another argument put forward is that chess can distract individuals from fulfilling their religious obligations. Excessive involvement in playing chess can consume valuable time that should be devoted to prayer, studying the Quran, or engaging in beneficial activities that contribute to one’s spiritual growth.

is it haram
Some argue that chess distracts individuals from religious obligations.

The Permissible Viewpoint

Contrary to the haram viewpoint, another group of scholars permits playing chess as long as it remains within certain boundaries. They argue that chess, in itself, is merely a game of strategy and intellect and does not involve any elements of gambling, betting, or harm.

Proponents of this viewpoint emphasize that Islam encourages the development of intellectual capabilities and problem-solving skills. They believe that chess, when played responsibly and in moderation, can be a means of mental exercise and recreation without contradicting religious principles.

Evaluating Different Opinions

Considering the two contrasting viewpoints presented above, it is important to note that the permissibility of playing chess may vary based on personal interpretation and the cultural context in which the game is played.

While some countries or communities may strictly prohibit chess due to cultural or historical reasons, others may view it as a harmless recreational activity. It is essential for individuals to seek guidance from their local religious scholars or trusted authorities who can provide insights based on their understanding of Islam’s teachings.

The Middle Ground

Some scholars propose a middle ground by suggesting that indulging in chess is permissible unless it becomes an obsession or leads to neglecting other important aspects of life. This perspective aims to strike a balance between enjoying recreational activities and fulfilling religious obligations.

They advise individuals to be mindful of their intentions and ensure that playing chess does not become a source of excessive attachment or addiction. Moderation and self-discipline are recommended to maintain a healthy balance between leisure and religious practices.

is it haram
Moderation and self-discipline are essential when enjoying chess.


In conclusion, the permissibility of playing chess in Islam remains a topic of debate among religious scholars. It is essential to evaluate different viewpoints and consider individual circumstances and cultural norms. While some argue that chess is haram due to its potential association with gambling and distraction from religious duties, others find it permissible as a recreational intellectual pursuit.

Ultimately, seeking guidance from religious authorities and promoting a balanced approach that safeguards religious obligations while enjoying recreational activities is crucial. Each individual should reflect on their intentions and priorities to determine their stance on playing chess within the framework of their faith.

Faqs about “is it haram to play chess”

Is it haram to play chess?

In Islam, opinions on chess vary among scholars. Some argue that it is haram (forbidden) due to its association with gambling, distraction from prayer, and potential for fostering aggression. Others believe it is permissible as long as it is not played excessively or used for gambling purposes. It is best to seek guidance from your local imam or scholars to make an informed decision based on your individual circumstances and understanding of Islamic principles.

Does chess encourage gambling?

Chess itself does not encourage gambling. However, in some cases, people may bet or gamble on the outcome of chess games, which would be considered haram according to Islamic teachings. It is important to separate the game of chess from any associated gambling activities.

Is chess considered a distraction from prayer?

Some scholars argue that excessive involvement in chess can be a distraction from important religious obligations, such as praying on time. However, if played in moderation and without neglecting one’s religious duties, chess can be seen as a recreational activity like any other, devoid of distraction.

Does playing chess promote aggression?

While some critics argue that the competitive nature of chess can promote aggression, it largely depends on the individual’s personality and mindset. Like any other competitive activity, it is important to maintain good sportsmanship and not let the game lead to negative behavior.

Why is chess associated with gambling?

Chess is not inherently associated with gambling. However, in some cultures or communities, people may engage in gambling activities surrounding chess games, such as betting on the outcome. This association is not a part of the game itself but rather a cultural or social practice.

Can children play chess?

There is no general prohibition on children playing chess in Islam. However, parents should ensure that playing chess does not become excessive or negatively impact their child’s education, religious obligations, or overall well-being.

Is there a specific time frame during which playing chess is allowed?

There is no specific time frame during which playing chess is allowed or prohibited in Islam. However, it is important to prioritize and fulfill religious obligations, such as prayer, fasting, etc., before engaging in any recreational or leisure activities.

Is online chess permissible?

The permissibility of online chess is subject to the same rules as offline chess. As long as it is not associated with gambling, excessive involvement, or neglect of religious responsibilities, playing chess online can be seen as a recreational activity like playing offline with friends or family.

Can you play chess with a computer?

There is generally no issue with playing chess with a computer as long as it does not involve any form of gambling or become a means of neglecting religious obligations. Playing chess against a computer can be considered a recreational activity or a way to practice and improve one’s skills.

What does the Quran say about chess?

The Quran does not specifically mention chess. Islamic scholars have derived their opinions on chess based on their understanding of Islamic principles, teachings, and the potential moral implications associated with the game.

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