Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

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John Upham
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Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by John Upham » Sun Aug 16, 2009 11:34 pm

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Robert Dale
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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Robert Dale » Sun Aug 16, 2009 11:54 pm

Something similar was reported in Iraq a few years ago. I discovered it is possible to email the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, so I asked him "Why is chess haram (forbidden)?" and actually received a reply: "If chess is forbidden, it is because chess is a means of lahv (debauchery) and gambling. Many traditions have been reported from the Holy Prophets and the Imams that prohibit playing chess. Moreover chess wastes time and causes other evils. However when man does not know the reason behind a divine rule, he should not object to it because God knows what is best for us."

So that put me in my place!

My daughter had the privilege of playing an Iraqi girl in the World Mindsports Games in Beijing last October, so the Grand Ayatollah's rule is not universally followed!

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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Matthew Turner » Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:00 am

The Muslim faith can have a problem with chess, perhaps at the heart of this is the fact that the Female figure is the most powerful piece. However, it only seems to be the leaders that the West support that actively campaign against the game.

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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:06 am

Matthew Turner wrote: However, it only seems to be the leaders that the West support that actively campaign against the game.
Eh? So the West "support" the Taliban then?? :? :?:

Yes Sistani said chess was "un-Islamic" - but there has also been no attempt made to actually ban the game in Iraq, nor is there likely to be. In stark contrast to Iran after the 1979 Khomeini takeover of course (missed "the West" backing that one too, though maybe you know different :P )
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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Matthew Turner » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:46 am

Matt,
If you will read the article, you will find out that it is a supporter of Karzai, who is anti-chess. I don't think there is any evidence of the Taliban persecuting chess players.

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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Matthew Turner » Mon Aug 17, 2009 2:01 am

As for Khomeini, you are partially right, but he relented
"In 1988, when Iran's spiritual leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, rehabilitated the game, chess made a triumphant comeback, spawning chess parks, chess palaces and budding chess champions."

A look at the last Olympiad show the Iranian Open team, with 5 GM's finished 40th ahead of the likes of Italy Latvia and Austria
The Iranian Womens' Team finished 39th, ahead of England who finished 51st

So Iran has changed it's mind and is supporting chess, but the regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan still consider chess unislamic

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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Geoff Chandler » Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:43 am

An interesting article. Thanks.

At least it's not the old standard; "Islam Bans Chess" tale
which is floated out every now and then.

These same stories surface from time to time along with UFO's,
pensioners giving birth and pictures of odd shaped vegetables.

I suppose a newspaper in an islamic country may no
doubt highlight some odd facts about the Christian faith.

"They drink the blood and eat the flesh of their Christ."

Half the fun of reading the news these days, be it in paper or online,
is trying to sort out the fact from fiction and the hysteria from the histerical.

(the Sun today, 17th August, page 15. A Plant that Eats Rats).

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:14 pm

Matthew Turner wrote:Matt,
If you will read the article, you will find out that it is a supporter of Karzai, who is anti-chess. I don't think there is any evidence of the Taliban persecuting chess players.
Quite simply, you are wrong - so wrong that I am frankly mystified where you are getting your information from :?

The Taliban DID ban chess - anybody caught playing the game risked a (possibly public) flogging. This is confirmed by Afghan chess players (for instance one of them who has posted on the "chessgames.com" site)

It was unbanned when they were overthrown. Afghanistan has sent both men and (amazingly for many) women's teams to recent Chess Olympiads. There is not the slightest possibility of the game being banned again there.

Nor is there any such prospect in Iraq (which has also fielded recent Olympiad teams), Sistani edict or not.

And I was well aware that the ban in Iran was lifted in the late 1980s (actually chess was played again there fairly openly from about 1984-85) and indeed that country is quite strong now. That does not alter the fact that the ban was so severe originally that all the then leading players (Shirazi, Sharif, Harandi) had to settle abroad.

The only two places where chess was banned were, thus, very Western-unfriendly - you were wrong to state otherwise :D

(Having said the above, what is the status of chess in Saudi Arabia, out of interest?)
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Leonard Barden » Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:24 pm

On Thursday the Iranian champion GM Morteza Mahjoob (I hadn't heard of him either, but he's 2503) broke the world simultaneous record by playing 500 games at once in Tehran, starting at 10 am and finishing at 4am next day.

This suggests, in contradiction to the tone of some of the posts above, that Iran is a country where chess is booming to an extent that we in England can only dream of.

Chess Vibes has a very full pictorial report on the event.

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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Robert Dale » Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:50 pm

For what it is worth, the Iranian women's team beat England 3-1 in the Blitz at the World Mindsports Games last year. Only Jovanka managed a win against them.

There are certainly some Saudi players online, but I don't know whether there are chess clubs in Riyadh, or how the game is viewed there.

I think a distinction must be made between the official statements of religious leaders like Sistani and the government position. Karzai is in a very difficult position. He has been going along with some fairly extreme Islamic policies lately - I wonder which way he will go.

Sistani's position does seem to be the "orthodox" fundamentalist view, life must be quite unpleasant for our chess playing friends where such views are widespread.

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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:07 pm

Leonard, I don't think anybody (certainly not myself) is disputing that chess is booming in Iran NOW........

It certainly wasn't in the 1980-85 period though :)
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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Matthew Turner » Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:49 pm

Matt,
This part of Nigel Short's report on his time as Iranian chess coach

"Iran is a strange society. Satellite TV is banned but you will find dishes on many a roof. Alcohol is forbidden but widely available in people’s homes. Cheap heroin, from next-door Afghanistan, is a major problem. And one doesn’t need a tour guide to find (scarf-clad) prostitutes walking the streets. All vices (or perceived vices) are present in abundance. In this, Iran does not differ from western countries, but the amount of hypocrisy is far greater."

Just because things are 'banned' does not mean that they don't happen (I doubt very much that people were flogged for playing chess). Chess players suffered in early 1980's Iran because of the Insular nature of the regime (ditto Afghanistan under the Taliban) which prevented chess players and other sports people from travelling and competing abroad. One could write a million dissertations on why this happened, but if you think this couldn't happen again in Iraq and Afghanistan then sadly I would have to disagree with you.

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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Geoff Chandler » Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:53 pm

Matt Mackenzie wrote:
(Having said the above, what is the status of chess in Saudi Arabia, out of interest?)
Hi Matt.

A Saudi Arabian fan of the Corner who lives in there has said that chess is active in Saudi.
They have always had a team in the Gulf Championships.

He did mention games like chess are sometimes frowned upon by some religeous leaders
because they can take so long, the players get absorbed and may miss prayers.

Geoff

Edit1: Forgot to add he lives in Dhahran and has mentioned a chess club ran by
Aramco (Aramco is the national oil company).

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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Mon Aug 17, 2009 11:10 pm

Matthew Turner wrote:Matt,
This part of Nigel Short's report on his time as Iranian chess coach

"Iran is a strange society. Satellite TV is banned but you will find dishes on many a roof. Alcohol is forbidden but widely available in people’s homes. Cheap heroin, from next-door Afghanistan, is a major problem. And one doesn’t need a tour guide to find (scarf-clad) prostitutes walking the streets. All vices (or perceived vices) are present in abundance. In this, Iran does not differ from western countries, but the amount of hypocrisy is far greater."

Just because things are 'banned' does not mean that they don't happen (I doubt very much that people were flogged for playing chess). Chess players suffered in early 1980's Iran because of the Insular nature of the regime (ditto Afghanistan under the Taliban) which prevented chess players and other sports people from travelling and competing abroad. One could write a million dissertations on why this happened, but if you think this couldn't happen again in Iraq and Afghanistan then sadly I would have to disagree with you.
You have a rather more benign view of the Taliban than I do then :shock: Seriously Matthew, check out the reports from people who actually lived under their "rule". This isn't a common or garden tyranny we are talking about here, but rather the world's worst regime (at least arguably) since Pol Pot's "Year Zero" :(

Yes I have seen Short's piece and others like it (I do read the ChessBase news site you know :D ) The point is though that Iran now is a rather different place to what it was in the 1980s, however bad in some respects the regime still is now (as we have seen recently) it was *much* more nasty and brutal back then.........

And no I'm not saying banning chess again could *never* happen, but it is unlikely IMO (esp in Iraq)

(BTW thanks for the info about Saudi Arabia. It does seem chess is played there, which is nice to see. I had wondered because IIRC they have never sent a team to the Olympiads - unlike I think every other state on the Arabian peninsula)
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Re: Chess is another activity the Taliban considers un-Islamic

Post by Geoff Chandler » Mon Aug 17, 2009 11:35 pm

Hi Matt.

I'll email him and ask him about the Olympiads.
I think he is a home/casual player so he may not be up to date on everything.

(no idea what time it is there so his reply may be in day or two).

Geoff

Edit: email sent then did some surfing. Found this repprt about 2007 GCC.

Oman and Saudi Arabia, two remaining GCC members, did not appear internationally so far.

Wonder if he meant Saudi will start to play in Gulf Championship....

....he is going to wonder why I'm asking all these questions...

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