Praise be to Allaah.
Playing chess is haraam according to the majority of
scholars, and that is because of evidence that has been discussed
previously in the answer to question number
There is no difference between playing chess in real life or
on the computer or online. It is all haraam because the reason that makes it
haraam is present in all cases.
Shaykh Dr. Fahd ibn ‘Abd al-Rahmaan al-Yahya, a member of the
faculty in al-Qaseem University was asked: What is the ruling on playing
backgammon and chess on the Internet?
Praise be to Allah. To proceed:
It is well known that the game of backgammon is the “dice”
concerning which reports were narrated stating that it is haraam, such as
the report in Saheeh Muslim from Buraydah (may Allah be pleased with
him), according to which the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon
him) said: “Whoever plays with dice, it is as if he were dipping his hand in
the flesh and blood of a pig.” Narrated by Muslim (2260) from the hadeeth of
Buraydah (may Allah be pleased with him). The word translated as “dice” in
this hadeeth refers to the game of backgammon. Moreover there are other
hadeeths which say that it is not permitted, and many of the scholars have
stated that it is haraam.
With regard to chess, most of the scholars have also stated
that it is haraam to play it. al-Bayhaqi narrated in al-Sunan al-Kubra
(10/212) from ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) that he passed by some
people who were playing chess and he said: What are these images that you
are so devoted to?
This ruling, meaning the ruling that it is haraam according
to most of the scholars, applies if both backgammon and chess of free of
other things that are contrary to sharee‘ah, the worst of which are: if it
is played in return for money, because then it is gambling which is haraam
according to consensus, as was stated by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah; if it
leads to missing prayer; and if it creates grudges between people.
Moreover, the ruling does not vary whether the game of chess
or backgammon is played in real life or on a computer or online. The Muslim
is enjoined to make good use of his time and not waste it, as ‘Umar
al-Farooq (may Allah be pleased with him) said: If you want to spend leisure
time, then spend it practising archery, and if you want to talk, then talk
about obligatory duties. Narrated by al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubra,
6/209 and elsewhere
If a Muslim wants to relax, then it should involve beneficial
pursuits, such as educational competitions, or racing on foot, or competing
in archery, or competing on horseback and other things that are beneficial
for the body and mind.
If people claim that there is some intellectual benefit in
playing chess, that is not quite right, because the game is not based on
reality; rather it is all imaginary.
And Allah knows best.