[Retros] Is the retro-genre forbidden too?

Noam Elkies elkies at math.harvard.edu
Thu Jan 21 17:02:45 EST 2016

Eric Angelini <Eric.Angelini at kntv.be> writes:

> ...
> http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/21/chess-forbidden-in-islam-rules-saudi-arabia-grand-mufti

If playing chess forward is haram (forbideen) then playing it backwards
should be praiseworthy :-)

Time Krabbe reported in 2005 of a ruling from the Board of Istifta,
Office of Grand Ayatollah Sistani that "Playing chess is absolutely
forbidden.  However, composing or solving chess problems is not haram,
if it is not considered by the Urf (custom) as playing."  See item 275
at <http://timkr.home.xs4all.nl/chess2/diary_14.htm>.

But apparently there is not universal agreement within the Sharia
community that even playing chess is always haram.  See for instance
<https://islamqa.info/en/14095>.  This is not too surprising because
chess flourished in the world of medieval Islam.

Also -- I've read that chess was originally a game played with dice;
I do not know whether the game considered by those early Islamic
authorities still used dice -- if so then one might argue that
the modern game (including medieval Shatranj) is not necessarily
covered by the same ruling.  But of course I have neither the training
nor the Islamic piety to judge such things :-)


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