JAFFA, Israel -The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has stunned viewers of his television show by saying that chess is forbidden by Islam.
Abdul Aziz al Sheikh, the highest religious authority in the kingdom, said that the game “is considered gambling, which contains an element of spending time and money in vain, as well as running the risk of creating enmity between people.”
The Mufti’s curious statement drew criticism on social media, under the hashtag mufti_bans_chess, with some commenters showing their disrespect.
Apparently chess was banned in Saudi Arabia today. You’re doing a great job, Middle East.
— Alec Wolfgram (@Providenc_) January 20, 2016
— Antony (@antonyhayden6) January 21, 2016
“The Mufti has lost his mind,” a user wrote, while another wondered: “Are there any competitive games that aren’t a waste of time and money, and don’t potentially create enmity?”
Another user ridiculed the Mufti by making a sarcastic comment: “I agree with the Mufti that the game is forbidden because the queen and the pawns are situated on a mixed-gender board.”
Another suggested replacing the bishop with the Mufti, “so that you could eliminate both the King and the Mufti at the same time.”
The Mufti’s defenders accused his detractors of expressing their opinion on the matter without possessing the required religious acumen. Some accused them of being Shi’ite.