Controversy
Kaif responded to these comments saying that he had learnt a lot from chess and there was nothing wrong in passing it on.
Mohammad Kaif/Facebook

A few days ago, cricketer Mohammad Kaif posted a picture of him with his son on Facebook where the two are playing chess. The picture that captures a father-son moment, however, invited criticism for depicting the cricketer playing chess, with social media users claiming that chess was ‘haraam’ in Islam. 

On Sunday, Kaif responded to these comments on Twitter, saying that chess was a wonderful game. “Passing on your learnings is not a crime, especially of a game which has been India’s own invention and followed for centuries. (sic)”

He also pointed out the things he learnt from the game – spontaneity, presence of mind and strategy – and how it had helped him in cricket as well.

Read his full statement here:

Earlier, social media users had slammed Kaif for teaching his son chess. Take a look at some of the comments.

However, many social media users defended Kaif, saying that chess is not really forbidden in Islam and that only gambling via chess is problematic according to the religion.

According to Kareem Shaheen’s report in The Guardian, chess is included under gambling in Islam in Saudi Arabia and hence, was forbidden last year. In Iran too, people were banned from playing the game in public in 1979, as it was associated with gambling. However, this ban was lifted in 1988 by Iran’s then supreme leader, who allowed for chess to be played unless it was a means for gambling.

The report also says that many Muslim scholars play chess as a skill-based game and categorise it separately from games of chance. However, if the game is distracting a Muslim from their daily duties such as prayer, it is problematic.

Islamqa.info, a website which hosts questions and answers about Islam, also has a similar opinion on chess. An answer from 2002 reads that chess is ‘haram’ when it “distracts from an obligatory duty such as prayer or anything that is necessary for the interests of oneself or one’s family, or enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, or upholding ties of kinship or honouring one’s parents, or any obligations connected to positions of authority or leadership, etc.”

A few days ago, cricketer, Irfan Pathan was trolled on social media for tweeting a picture of him with his wife where the latter’s arms and face were partly visible. People called it ‘un-Islam’, pointing out how her arms and face should have been covered, and even picking on the fact that she was wearing nail polish.

Before Kaif and Pathan, another Indian cricketer, Mohammed Shami, faced fire on social media for his wife’s dress in a photo he posted of them. She was wearing a sleeveless dress, which many social media users deemed as an un-Islamic way of dressing. Many were quick to advise Shami to ‘keep his wife in a parda’ and feel shameful. Kaif had defending Shami at the time and said that there are bigger issues in the country which needed attention than Shami’s wife’s dress.