What Types of Games are Forbidden in Islam?

Syed Bukhari

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What Types of Games are Forbidden in Islam?

Islam provides guidance on all aspects of life, including recreation and leisure activities. Let’s explore the Islamic rulings on different types of games.

The Two Categories of Games

Games are divided into two broad categories in Islam:

Games Encouraged in Islam

These are games that help develop useful skills for daily life or jihad (striving in Allah’s cause). They are praiseworthy to engage in. Examples include:

  • Archery, horseback riding, swimming – develop physical abilities
  • Chess, backgammon – enhance mental skills
  • Trivia games – increase general knowledge
  • Educational video games – improve learning abilities

The Prophet (SAW) specifically encouraged learning archery, swimming and horseback riding. He said “Practice archery and horseback riding.” (Al-Bukhari)

So games that build abilities are encouraged, with the right intention.

Which Games Are Haram in Islam?

Games Discouraged or Prohibited

These games provide no benefit and either waste time or directly involve harm. They are disliked or haram in Islam. Examples are:

  • Games of chance – dice, gambling
  • Music/dance games – promote impermissible music
  • Violent/inappropriate games – impact morals negatively
  • Addictive games – waste time from worship
  • Games involving money – lead to obsession

Let’s explore the Islamic rulings on some common game types.

Games of Chance

Games that rely entirely on random chance and luck are strictly prohibited in Islam. These include:

The Quran prohibits maisir, interpreted as gambling or games of chance. Allah says:

O you who believe, intoxicants and gambling and games of chance and idols and divination arrows are impurities devised by Satan, so avoid them, so you may be successful.” (5:90)

Several hadiths reiterate this ruling. The Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever plays dice has disobeyed Allah and His Messenger.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)

You should read, IS LUDO/LUDO STAR HARAM IN ISLAM?

Games of chance are forbidden because:

  • They provide unearned money without honest work
  • They cause enmity and disputes between players
  • They distract from remembrance of Allah
  • They can lead to ruinous addiction

So Muslims must avoid dice, playing cards, lotteries and all gambling-related games.

Violent/Inappropriate Video Games

Video games involving extreme violence, criminal activities or sexual content are also to be avoided. These desensitize morals over time.

Grand theft auto, fighting games like Mortal Kombat and adult video games promote sinful behavior normalizing violence, vulgarity and objectification of women.

The Prophet (SAW) said: “A true believer is not involved in taunting others, frequently cursing others, being immoral or acting like a brute.” (Tirmidhi)

So Muslims should stay away from games impacting their character negatively.

Music/Dance Games

Games requiring dancing to music or singing songs are not permitted, as scholars prohibit music itself. Games like karaoke, Guitar Hero, Just Dance and music/rhythm apps would fall under this category.

Addictive Games

Games that excessively absorb time from worship and obligations are to be avoided. Extended gaming sessions causing missed prayers or disobeying parents are prohibited.

The Quran warns: “And do not take your oaths as mere window dressing, lest a people whose (evil) deed is thus made alluring to them should (cause you to) slip after the right path.” (16:94)

Games must not consume priority over duties or distract from remembering Allah.

Free Mixing Games

Games encouraging free mixing of genders or intimacy between non-mahrams are forbidden. Flirting apps, dating sims or games promoting extramarital relationships should be avoided.

Occult Games

Games based on astrology, witchcraft, fortune-telling, mythology or promoting other superstitious beliefs are prohibited as they conflict with Islamic creed.

Permissible Games

What games are allowed for Muslims?

  • Educational games
  • Sports and outdoor activities
  • Strategy games like chess
  • Trivia and quiz games
  • Wholesome video games promoting good morals
  • Building games (Lego, Minecraft etc)
  • Pretend play (cops and robbers, house etc)

Permissible games should meet these conditions:

  • Not promote any sinful behavior
  • Not create obsession distracting from worship
  • Not involve free mixing of genders
  • Not contain violence, music or inappropriate content

Moderation in Gaming

Playing games excessively, even permitted ones, can become problematic if it distracts from obligations or consumes all leisure time.

The Prophet (SAW) advised balance in recreation: “Part of someone’s perfect virtue is leaving alone things which do not concern him.” (Tirmidhi)

Gaming in moderation for enjoyment and skill development is allowed. But it should not supersede obligations or remembrance of Allah.

Rulings on Different Types of Games

Let’s analyze some common games and their permissibility according to Islamic principles:

Card games

Playing cards is generally discouraged as they are instruments of gambling. Simple card games may be permissible if not played for money or obsessively. But it’s best to avoid them.

Chess

Chess is permitted as it builds strategy and mental abilities. However, playing it excessively, missing prayers or obligations due to chess would make it prohibited.

Video games

Video games involving skill like sports and racing games are allowed. But games promoting violence, sexual themes or gambling are haram.

Dice games

All dice games like Ludo and Snakes and Ladders involve chance, so they are forbidden even if played just for entertainment.

Poker

Poker involves gambling and is undoubtedly haram even without betting money, as it mimics prohibited games of chance.

Bingo

Bingo is a game of chance similar to gambling, hence haram even if played recreationally without money.

Lotteries

Any game of chance played to win prizes, like lotteries and raffles, is forbidden as it is a form of gambling.

Board games

Board games promoting beneficial skills like Scrabble (spelling), Battleship (logic) and Monopoly (money management) are permitted in moderation.

Arcade games

Arcade games are permissible if they build hand-eye coordination and do not involve prohibited content. Games won through tickets also resemble gambling.

Billiards/pool

Billiards and pool are allowed as they develop physical abilities. However, playing in halls with alcohol and gambling should be avoided.

Bowling

Bowling is permitted as a recreational sport if not done obsessively. However, music and inter-gender mixing in bowling alleys is discouraged.

Karaoke

Karaoke is prohibited as it involves impermissible music and free mixing in clubs. Same applies for Just Dance and musical video games.

Guiding Principles on Permissible Games

  • Games should not involve anything clearly prohibited in Islam – gambling, music, alcohol, vulgarity
  • Games must not create obsession distracting from worship and duties
  • Avoid games promoting violence, racism, crime or immorality
  • Do not play games that waste time or boost ego uselessly
  • Seek games that develop your mind, body or spirit positively
  • Choose games that exercise abilities beneficial in real life
  • Ensure gaming sessions do not conflict with religious obligations
  • Moderation is key – play for enjoyment, not escape from duties

FAQS

Q: What video games are haram?

A: Video games promoting gambling, violence, sexual themes, vulgarity or criminal activities would be considered haram. Games that cause obsession or time-wastage from worship are also prohibited.

Q: Is playing PUBG allowed in Islam?

A: Scholars prohibit PUBG due to its intense violence and promotion of guns. It also causes dangerous addiction among youth, wasting time better spent in remembrance of Allah.

Q: Are games that involve interaction with the opposite gender haram?

A: Yes, games encouraging inappropriate free mixing of genders or promoting intimacy outside marriage relationships are considered haram in Islam.

Q: Is GTA haram?

A: Yes, the Grand Theft Auto series promotes extremely vulgar language, violence, crime, drugs and sexual themes. It glorifies immoral behavior forbidden in Islam.

Q: Is it haram to upload gaming videos?

A: Uploading gaming videos is permissible as long as you do not promote haram games and ensure your content does not contain foul language, music or graphic violence.

Q: What if everyone around me plays games I must avoid?

A: As Muslims, we must avoid haram activities even if they are common around us. Seek good company that encourages what is pleasing to Allah, not just following culture blindly. Ask Allah to give you strength.

The key is using wisdom – games can be permissible leisure if we ensure they bring more benefit than harm. Moderation, good intentions and avoiding harmful content is key. May Allah guide us to righteousness.