1. It is narrated from Abu Musa al-Asha‘ari (rta) that the Prophet [said] that people who play Nard disobey God and His Prophet.
Explanation: Nard is a game used with dice or cowries which people throw and play on a table or board.
Winning or losing depends upon chance: hence it is a form of gambling. This game was invented by Ardashir, who was the King of Persia, and it came to Arabia from there. The Prophet (sws) has called it disobedience of God and himself.
When people have nothing to do, they invent such useless games to waste their time and this gives several passages for Satan. Many games like Nard are popular among people. It is a fact that Satan has not invented more effective ways to waste time than these. And if there is any game which is more nonsensical than this, it is cricket.
Time is a very precious possession for humans. Whoever wastes it has wasted a lot. All prophets have given this teaching. The Qur’an says that those believers will be successful who stay away from nonsensical activities. Frivolous occupations include all those that make a person forget his purpose in life. What can be more nonsensical than Nard, chess, cards and cricket?
2. It is narrated with reference to ‘A’ishah (rta) that when she found out that one of the families residing in her house possessed Nard, she sent a message to them to get rid of the Satan of Nard; otherwise she would dislodge them from her house and this was resented by them.
Explanation: ‘A’ishah (rta) was aware of such frivolities being sins. She did not think that these activities should continue in her own house. Hence she sent the message to the dwellers to either throw out the Nard or be ready to vacate the house. According to current laws of renting homes, one cannot do anything; even if greater crimes are committed, nothing can be done. And today, chess, cards and cricket are not considered to be crimes. In fact, they are hobbies for many people. This is because we are not aware of the severity of such frivolities.
3. Nafi‘ (rta) narrates about ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (rta) that whenever he would see anyone from his family or friends playing Nard, he would beat them and also break up the Nard. Yahya says that it is Imam Malik’s decree that there is no good in chess; he would call it repulsive (makruh) and consider playing it or anything else a falsehood. He would recite the verse: “What is there after truth except perdition?”
Explanation: These days, chess is justified by using the philosophy that because a battle is being fought on the chess board, and it requires planning and strategizing, the game develops intelligence. If intelligence is the name of wasting time, this is fine; otherwise it is stupidity. The reason is that while chess is being played, the players become forgetful of the greatest of loss or danger and do not make an effort to do the greatest of good. What can be more dangerous than this?
Imam Malik’s consideration of chess being makruh is close to being haram. This is because when Malikites praise something, they say “I like this” and when they are against something, they say “this seems unacceptable to me.” They do not declare piety or disbelief. The point which the Imam wants to make is also evident from the verse quoted by him. What doubt remains of such a game being perdition?
(Translated by Nikhat Sattar)