(K. Brent Tomer),
Chess is a “waste of time” and causes enmity between players, according to the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh. It is therefore as much to be forbidden as more obviously sinful activities like indulging in alcohol or gambling.
His remarks, on a television show last year, resurfaced in the media this week as the kingdom prepared to host a tournament, and they were immediately rejected by a member of the Saudi chess association, who tweeted that the game flourished in the kingdom and would continue to do so. Because the cleric’s word were an off-the-cuff answer to a question rather than a formal decree, they are not expected to be enforced harshly.
This is not the first time that a spiritual leader has denounced chess as a distraction from religious devotions. An Italian sage of the 11th century, Saint Peter Damian, scolded the bishop of Florence for his weakness for the game. Chess was initially outlawed by Iranian Revolution which prevailed in 1979; however in 1988, Ayatollah Khomeini said it was permissible as long as it is not combined with gambling. However a contemporary Shia leader, Ayatollah Ali…Continue reading