Question # 418: My son goes to a local masjid madrasa for full-time hifz. One day during the lunch break I visited him with his lunch box and I saw that the children who had come for hifz were playing cards during the break. my question is that is it permissible playing cards in Islam and especially in the masjid?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: According to scholars, it is not just disliked (makrooh) but impermissible (haraam) to play cards (whether played with or without money); based on its analogy with dice (game of chance) which has been specifically prohibited by Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Furthermore, it leads to the following:

  • It distracts people from remembering Allah (dhikr) and from salah
  • The rancor, enmity, bitterness, and/or ill-feeling which may occur between the players (shahnaa’ wa-baghdaa’)
  • The game promotes cheating, deception, and trickery (ghish wa-tahaayul)

Finally, the masajid are built for the remembrance of Allah, prayer and the recitation of the Qur’an; and their amenities should be used for matters of worship and matters related to it.

Long Answer: The Standing Committee was asked about playing cards if that does not distract people from prayer and there is no money involved. They answered: “Playing cards is not permitted, even if there is no money involved, because the problem with that is that it distracts people from remembering Allah (dhikr) and from prayer. Even if they claim that this is not the case, then it is still a means that may lead to gambling which is expressly forbidden. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), and gambling, and Al-Ansaab (stone altars for sacrifices to false gods) and Al-Azlaam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaytaan’s (Satan’s) handiwork. So, avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful” (Soorah al-Ma’idah, 5:90)

These cards have an effect on society, for the bonds of a strong society are achieved by means of two things: following the commands of Allah and heeding His prohibitions. A society disintegrates when it neglects any of those duties or does any of those things that are forbidden. These cards form one of the factors which have an effect on society. They cause people to neglect prayer in congregation, and they generate alienation, breaking of ties, hatred and negligence through the committing of haraam actions, and they make people too lazy to earn a living.  (Fataawa Islamiyyah)

…It may also be added that playing cards is devoid of any of the goals of recreational activities as required in Islam; it does not teach any skill or any useful knowledge or bring any social benefit or relaxation that will calm the nerves. Rather it is a game that has nothing good in it; it causes arguments and simply kills time. [The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Everything other than remembering Allah is (considered) wasteful play except four: a man humoring his wife, a man training his horse, a man walking between targets (learning archery), and man learning swimming,” (Narrated by An-Nasa’i and authenticated by Al-Albani (Sahih Al-Jami’). Also, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Son of Adam will remain standing on the Day of Judgement till he is questioned about five things: his age, how he spent it; and about his youth (body) as to how he consumed it; and about his wealth from where he acquired it and in what activities he spent it, and about his knowledge and how he utilized it” (al-Tirmidhi). And “Many people are deceived by two gifts (i.e. they do not make good use of them), the gifts of health and that of free time. (Reported by Bukhari) Further,] It is based on speculation and chance, and it is like playing with dice, in that it leads to disputes and fighting, and it is like alcohol and gambling. [The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever plays with dice, would (resemble) one who has tainted his hand with the flesh and blood of a pig.” (Narrated by Muslim)]

Based on the above, it would not be farfetched to suggest that it is haraam rather than makrooh, by analogy with dice, because both are based on chance and both lead to arguments.

The same view was favored by Shaykh Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, and it is the view of our contemporary scholars, and of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen among the fuqaha’

[As for playing cards in the masjid,] in principle, the mosque should be free from playing as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said about mosques: ”It is built for the remembrance of Allah, prayer and the recitation of the Qur’an.’’ (Muslim) Moreover, the amenities of the mosque should be used for matters of worship and matters related to it.

(Unless stated otherwise, the above reply is based on various answers provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.