Is Having Fun in Islam Forbidden?

nice rack - pool
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There are billiard parlors in many Muslim countries such as Iran and Indonesia and in Muslim-infested areas such as the Philippines, so you may be led into thinking that having fun is not forbidden to Muslims.

But you would be wrong. Most Muslims in the world are ignorant of what is written in the Qur'an and the majority of Muslim countries have not yet been taken over by devout Muslims.

According to Islamic jurisprudence, any game in which there is sabaq (prize money) is like gambling and thus not permissible according to Shariah unless the skills developed are useful for jihad. The Prophet said that "There is no sabaq except in archery, horse-racing and camel-racing.” 1400 years ago these were skills useful in killing and subjugating the infidels. The modern equivalent would be the game of learning to fly without knowing how to land.

Well, suppose there is no prize money or awards or gambling, can one play billiards just for the fun of it?

Well, here too it is complicated by Islamic considerations. Playing billiards, chess, or any other jihad-worthless game is not haram (forbidden) provided that in the venue of play there there is no cursing, drinking, name-calling, mocking, or hatred. In addition, the time wasted must not take away from obligatory duties such as prayer, reading the Qur'an, or disciplining one's family.

The Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan remained untouched for more than a thousand years of Muslim rule. Then Muslims who could read the Qur'an came to power and realized that the 1500 year old statues were idols and according to Shariah law must be destroyed. Therefore in 2001 the Taliban dynamited both of them.

So while billiard teams and billiard halls do exist in Muslim countries, the Muslim world is becoming more educated which means more Muslims will learn to read. And when they read the Qur'an it is only a matter of time before they ban all games that take time away from even more reading of the Qur'an.

I left out one other proviso for allowing the playing of games: they must not lead to something haram. Take a look at the photo above. That is not a rack that Muslims should be looking at when playing pool.

"Is Having Fun in Islam Forbidden?" has been question number 3 in my series Ask the Vizier (℠).

The Grand Vizier
Photo Credit: Anno 1404 Wiki


The Vizier answers issues pertaining to Shariah which comes down directly from Allâh. These questions and answers are placed in public view on Planck's Constant for educational purposes. Many of these answers are unique to a particular situation and cannot be taken as a basis for a ruling in another situation. Ask the Vizier (℠) bears no responsibility with regards to these questions being used out of their intended context or to any party who may or may not act on this answer. The Vizier is hereby exempted from loss or damage howsoever caused.

This answer may not be used as evidence in any Court of Law without prior written consent of the Vizier.

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