Author Tim Krabbe (there’s an accent on the e, but I can’t get it to show up) has a chess site called Chess Curiosities. In his Open Chess Diary (anyone interested in chess who hasn’t seen it before should go all the way back to the beginning) notes that at his website, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Iraq has posted information on what is Halal (permitted) or Haram (permitted)in Islamic law. Although cricket, anal sex and oral sex are permitted, playing chess is “absolutely unlawful” and “absolutely forbidden”, even when you don’t bet and have no bad intentions playing it.
Since Krabbe is interested in chess problems and puzzles, he wrote to ask if composing and solving them were permitted, since, as he says, it is “more like inventing riddles and creating poetry” than playing.
He was sent this reply:
So all those people who were cruelly forced to play chess during Saddam’s regime can now rejoice in the fruits of American-sponsored democracy.