Playing chess is more sinful than gambling: Muslim televangelist

Hurryiyet Daily News
January 4, 2017

Turkish televangelist Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü, popularly known as “Cübbeli” Ahmet Hoca (Robed Ahmet Hoca), has raised eyebrows by claiming that playing chess is more sinful than gambling, daily Hürriyet reported on Jan. 2.

Ünlü said chess players were “cursed” and claimed that “most people who played chess are liars.” 

“Playing chess is worse than gambling and eating pork ... People who play chess are more prone to lying than others. People who play chess may not say the shahada [declaration of Islamic belief] while they are dying,” he said.

“People who play chess are cursed ... You should count your prayer beads instead of playing games like this,” he added.

Ünlü had hit headlines on Nov. 14 in 2014 by condemning the European Space Agency’s (ESA) successful landing of the Philae probe on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, describing the mission as “maniacal.”

More recently, he waded into a debate on the religious permissiveness of oral sex, slamming a colleague for describing it as religiously forbidden and saying there is no such ban in Islam.

Commenting on the playing of chess, the Jurists have declared it as haraam.


According to Imaam Muhammad (Rahmatullaah Ãlayhi) there is no good in all types of games/play. Although chess is not directly classified under gambling, it is regarded as (useless play).


In the book Al Basaair it is stated in one Hadith: 'When they pass on those people playing Azlaam, chess, backgammon and similar games, do not greet them; and if they do greet you then do not reply (their greeting).'


So serious is the playing of chess that one is instructed not to make salaam nor reply to their salaam. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Ãlayhi Wasallam) would sometimes turn his face or not reply to a greeting to show the veracity and depth of abhorrence to a particular sinful act.


Once Hadhrat Ali (Radhiyallaahu Ãnhu) happened to pass by a group of people playing chess and remarked, "What is this? What are these images for which you have gathered here?"


It is also reported that once when Hadhrat Umar (Radhiyallaahu Ãnhu) passed a group of people playing chess, he remarked. "Their actions are like those of the idol worshippers". (Ghayatu Bayan).


The statement of Hadhrat Omar (Radhiyallaahu Ãnhu) should be carefully analyzed in context i.e. when any act is directly or indirectly associated with a particular culture, religion or community then Muslims are advised to abstain from its affiliation. For instance, Christmas has special religious and spiritual significance to Christians.


Likewise the play of chess has special significance to the kuffaar and therefore identified as a "game" with either cultural or religious connotations.

Aforementioned are a few Ahaadith on the subject matter.


Hadith One
Hazrat Abu Musa Ashari (Radhiyallaahu Anhu) reported that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, `He who plays backgammon (or chess) disobeys Allah and His Rasool (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam).'


Hadith Two
Hadhrat Sulaiman bin Buraidah (Radhiyallaahu Anhu) reported Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) as saying, 'If anyone plays backgammon, he sinks his hand in the flesh of swine and its blood.'


Hadith Three
Hadhrat Musa Ashari (Radhiyallaahu Anhu) reported from Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) that, `He who plays backgammon (or chess) has soaked his hand in the blood of swine.'


Hadith Four
Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) gave the parable of that person who plays chess and then performs Salaat, is like the person who makes Wudhu with dirt and the blood of swine and thereafter performs Salaah.


In the light of the above Ahaadith, there is no doubt that playing chess is emphatically declared as not permissible in the Shariah. Furthermore, it appears from the Hadith that the game of chess was existent during the time of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). Even if chess was not existent during that time, Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) came to know of it through Wahy (revelation).