What nations have banned Chess?
No nation including Saudi Arabia and Iran have banned chess – It was the Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti who said chess to be haram, and that fatwa carries little legal weight because the Mufti himself said: “included under gambling and there a waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players”. The Mufti justified his ruling by referring to the verse in the Qur’an banning “intoxicants, gambling, idolatry and divination”. Chess is a form of exercise for the mind, the brain and we should regard chess in this way – after all The Prophet Muhammad said: “The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 74
Where did chess come from?
The current form of chess began during the Gupta Empire probably developed from a similar game that was played in China. Chess then spread to the Persian Sassanid Empire, and Middle East as Islam spread to Persia. From there, it made its way to European nations through Muslims after all The Prophet also said: “Acquire knowledge and impart it to the people.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 107
Why do Muslims dislike chess?
Islam discourages anything that leads to gambling or wastes time, some believe that chess increases enmity and rivalry. According to a tradition, the Prophet once remarked: “The remedy for ignorance is asking questions.” If the ignorant man does not inquire; his ignorance will stay with him. But if he has a questioning mind, some knowledgeable person will answer him, and he will no longer remain ignorant.
Whats a fatwa? One of the great thing about fatwas is that they challenge our opinions of things and force us to question ourselves and our understanding of issues – including fatwas.
There is a saying in Arabic: To know that you do not know is half the knowledge itself. If an ignorant person is not aware of his ignorance, he will continue to remain in the same state. But when he becomes aware of his ignorance, he sets about seeking for knowledge. He will try to turn his ignorance into knowledge. In this way his awareness of his ignorance will become the stepping stone leading towards full and comprehensive knowledge. Therefore its time that Muslims question fatwas and start thinking and putting into context who is really responsible for their lives – they themselves or the scholars they follow?
Clergy & Chess:
As you walk the bazaars of Saudi Arabia you will see chess sets are widely available and there is a Saudi Chess Association which holds tournaments with the full approval of the government. No one has been threatened in any way over chess, let alone harmed.
In the ‘dark ages’ in Europe chess was also disliked by Christian or Jewish clergy as it is with Muslim clergy today – carved images are not liked by most religions in those days and such carved images were considered idols, and chess pieces were little statues. When Europeans emerged from the dark ages and started detaching themselves from politicalised theology and the suffocating and controlling Church, chess spread far and wide.
The most recent Muslim nation to ban chess was Iran under Ayatollah Khomeni in 1981 but this ban was later rescinded.
Stupid people are easier to control:
Another reason why religious leaders who hunger for power and control of their ‘flocks’ rather than empower – don’t like chess is that it encourages ‘reasoning’ abilities and ‘strategy’ and when people start thinking they start questioning.
Governments that seek to control their populations rather than make full use of their abilities will seek to limit information to them, deny education especially to women and girls, play divide and rule with different communities within their nation – simply so people can be kept down and busy as like sheep within a field grazing and banning games of strategy – educational tools like chess that help people to think will therefore cause problems within the nation where the population begins to realise that they have been hoodwinked and kept downtrodden.
Islam teaches us to respect all – including stupid and ignorant people – this we must, but we must not strategise our lives and those of our loved ones with those who seek only to control us and use us for their political purposes.
‘Iyad ibn Himar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Allah has revealed to me that you must be humble towards one another, so that no one oppresses another or boasts to another.”
Source: Sahih Muslim 2865
Chess helps people with thinking tactics, strategy ( a skill sadly that Muslims and Arabs especially do not generally have ). Imagine a nation that encourages initiative, flexibility, ability to do something positive with information, and encourages self-leadership and gets people to learn, develop and teach. This was why the Muslims succeeded in the past because they were reasoning people and open to think and ponder difficult subjects.
A man will continue to have knowledge as long as he is seeking knowledge. If he assumes that he has knowledge, then he has become ignorant. (Ibn Al-Mubarak)
Source: al-Mujālasah wa Jawāhir 312
A scholar must remain as a student or else he is no longer a scholar. Those who consider themselves without need of learning have become ignorant regardless of how much they already know and this goes in direct contradiction to what the Prophet of Islam (Peace Be Upon Him) taught.
Thinking outside the box is not encouraged, doing so in public can damage a career. These skills above are not taught or encouraged in schools within Muslim nations especially those that call themselves Madrassas.
Religious instruction without reasoning suffocates Allah given potential and those skills wither away. Religion as a political tool makes controlling people much easier but people – whether they are Americans who call themselves Evangelical Christians or Muslims will end up learning themselves – away from the clutches of the Clergy. And should they leave religion – it will be the direct fault of the clergy that seeks to control rather than empower.
Chess enhances life and reasoning skills.
When you look at how Arab nations have won wars in modern times – they haven’t really won any by themselves. This is simply because they don’t have the skills to think widely and strategise themselves. And instead import advisors and consultants in who treat them like cashcows – I remember meeting a senior Arab diplomat (won’t mention the country) here in London and he would rather speak with the lady next to me (she was white and English) simpley because he thought she was somehow senior to me… She was the floor manager (janitor) of the hotel and he developed a conversation with her on what she thought his country should do in a certain situation. Once he realised that this lady was looking to me and other ‘white’ people within the room were eager to engage me in conversation – he realised what was what and it is such people who are eager to take on experts (in their eyes) to help them with their countries.
Anyway and those who wish to say that strategy games are haraam because they are about ‘deceiving’ someone:
Well thats how you win wars by looking at things from others perspectives?
Thats how to make people think more widely?
You have a certain strategy as opposed to someone elses strategy and yes if you want to win you will do so by following a strategy that the other party does not know – this is deception, yes that is correct! Or would you rather just tell your opponent everything or play by the rules of some cleric who has never thought beyond what he reads?
DONKEY WITH BOOKS
A donkey with books is still a donkey, Do you know many Muslims of the same type of Muslims who would like to ban chess as haraam – like debating? Do they not debating is a form of strategy and deception? Or do they just like to argue on a certain point and cause animosity?
Those who don’t know Prophet Muhammad’s teachings think them to be full of negative or harsh messages. Fixated on sayings about the Day of Judgement and Hellfire they ponder and ignore his messages of glad tidings and positively.
The mission of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was described by Allah the Most Gracious was as follows, “O Prophet, indeed We have sent you as a witness (Shahid) and a bringer of good tidings (Basheer) and a warner (Nazeer). And one who invites to Allah (Daee) , by His permission, and an illuminating lamp (Sirajan Munira)” [Al-Ahzab 33:45-46].
Prophet Muhammad brought hope for those around him at a time of darkness. He exuded optimism and love. His words, whether of warning or of good news, inspired positive action – its time we Muslims, especially those who consider themselves ‘strict’ Muslims grew up and cease using The Prophets message to weaken and control each other.
Here are some quotes for the political mullahs who is they disagree – they can take it up with the Last Prophet PBUH on the day of judgement:
“Give glad tidings, and do not scare people away. Make things easy, and do not make things difficult” (Abu Dawud).
“Hoping for good is also an act of worship of Allah” (Tirmidhi and Hakim).
“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although there is good in each. Desire that which will bring you benefit, and seek help from Allah and do not give way to incapacity. If something happens to you, do not say, ‘If only I had done such-and-such.’ Rather say, ‘The decree of Allah. He does what He will.’ Otherwise you will open yourself up to the action of Shaitan” (Muslim).
“Whoever abstains from asking others, Allah will make him contented, and whoever tries to make himself self-sufficient, Allah will make him self-sufficient. And whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience” (Bukhari).
“If the Day of Resurrection were established upon one of you, while he has in his hand a sapling (small plant), then let him plant it.” (Ahmad).