Chess banned in Saudi Arabia by religious fatwa

No, it’s not an article from The Onion. The president of the Saudi Arabia Law Committee confirmed that chess has been banned in the country.

saudi arabia chess ban

Heresy in action.

Fatwas, which are “specific rulings on a point of Islamic law given by a recognized authority” can cover some odd things. We’ve seen fatwas issued before which banned muslims from taking part in missions to Mars and today, in its oddity, is no exception.

Musa Bin Thaily, president of law committee at the Saudi Chess Association today tweeted confirmation that chess, strictly speaking, it banned under religious fatwa.

twitter chess ban

Musa goes on to point out that the Saudi chess scene has only flourished because a previous ban dating back to the mid-seventies was never enforced.

However, the release of two videos discussing the fatwa have caught the eye of the Saudi media.

The first video describes how chess is haram (forbidden) and backs this statement with a hadith (a quote from Muhammad).

The second video discusses that chess is a complete waste of time and only causes hostility.

Chess has a bumpy history with Islam. It was also banned in Iran from 1979 to 1988, with some hardline interpretations of Islam and groups such as the Taliban considering it un-Islamic. 

Punishments for crime in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can be hard, almost has hard as finding enough people to enact them. With this thought in mind, it is no wonder that the playing of chess has taken such a low priority when Saudi royalty has been found on private jets loaded with drugs.

So why is chess banned? Chess pieces can be considered iconography that represents people, which makes it ban-worthy under Islamic law. Make sense? Thought so. Checkmate, atheists.