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What is the ruling for playing dice games, such as backgammon?



Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Dice Definition

Imam al-Munawi explains about the game of dice (backgammon or nard game) in his book Faidh al-Qadir: “Indeed the salaf has agreed on the prohibition of the game of dice.” Ibnu Qudamah also states the consensus (ijma’) of the ulama on the issue: “The reason for the prohibition is because the founder, Sabur bin Azdasyir, the early ruler of Sasan states that the board of the game represents the surface of the earth. The division of the squares are the four clauses, 30 people as 30 days and the black and white colour as night and day, lastly the 12 houses are the 12 months in a year.” (See Faidh al-Qadir, Al-Munawi, 6/219)

Syeikh al-Zubaidi states a similar opinion: “Al-Nardasyir (game) term comes from the name of a Persian king, Ardasyir, who is the game’s founder.” (See Taj Al ‘Urus, Al-Zubaidi, 9/219)

Ibn Manzur states: “Al-Nard is a game. It (the game) originated from Persia and not from the Arabs. It is named as Nardasyir, and Al-Nard, an ‘ajam name (non-Arab), while Syir means sweet.” (See Lisan al-Arab, Ibn Manzhur, 3/421)

Regarding the meaning of Syir, al-Zubaidi states that there is waham (doubt) towards the statement. The reason is, the common word used for sweet is Syirin. (See Taj al-‘Urus, Al-Zubaidi, 9/219)

Prophetic Evidence Regarding the Ruling for the Game of Dice

Among the hadiths that mentions about the game of dice are:

  • From Buraidah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

‏مَنْ لَعِبَ‏ ‏بِالنَّرْدَشِيرِ‏ ‏فَكَأَنَّمَا صَبَغَ يَدَهُ فِي لَحْمِ خِنْزِيرٍ وَدَمِهِ

“He who played Nardashir (a game similar to backgammon) is like one who dyed his hand with the flesh and blood of swine.”

Sahih Muslim (2260)

  • From Abi Musa al-Asy’ari RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

مَنْ لَعِبَ ‏بِالنَّرْدِ،‏ ‏فَقَدْ عَصَى اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ

“He who plays backgammon disobeys Allah and His Apostle.”

Sunan Abu Daud (4938)

According to the book Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, the game of dice and chess is considered as gambling. If the game does not involve bets (monetary or others), then the fuqaha have differing opinions regarding the ruling of the game. (See Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 406/39)

There are two opinions regarding the ruling for the game of dice, if it does not involve gambling. The first opinion states that it is prohibited in accordance to the literal meaning of the above hadith, while the second opinion ruled it makruh (undesirable). Imam al-Nawawi states that the majority of scholars prohibits the game of dice, while Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi (a prominent scholar in mazhab al-Syafie) said that from our ashab or scholars (mazhab al-Syafie), we do not prohibit the game of dice but ruled it as makruh (undesirable). (See al-Minhaj Syarh Sahih Muslim, 15/15)


Thus, we conclude that regarding the issue for the game of dice, it is permissible if it does not involve any prohibited elements, such as gambling and negligence (in fulfilling the religion’s commandments). Furthermore, the game of dice meant in the above hadith may not be the same as the games of dice available today. Once again, we would like to emphasize that the ruling would change to a prohibition if there are any form or element of gambling or negligence towards Allah SWT’s commandment or towards the responsibilities one has as a Muslim. Lastly, may Allah SWT give us understanding in religion and bless us. Amin.