Is Carrom Haram or Halal in Islam

is Carrom Haram

Carrom, also known as carom billiards, is a popular tabletop game originally from India that is played all over South Asia and beyond. The question of whether carrom is permissible in Islam often arises among Muslim communities where the game is common. Like many recreational activities, there are differing opinions on the permissibility of carrom from an Islamic legal perspective.

Is Carrom Haram?

No carrom is not Haram

No, Playing Carrom is not Haram, as long as you’re playing it just for entertainment occasionally. You can also play Carrom Board in Ramzan, if you’re not skipping your prayers and necessary things to do.

What is Carrom?

Carrom is a cue sport similar to billiards and pool. It is played on a square wooden board with pockets at the corners and two larger holes in the middle. The objective is to use a striker disk to flick smaller disks called carrom men into the pockets. The game can be played singles or doubles. Modern carrom boards often have a powdered surface which helps the pieces slide smoothly across the board.

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Carrom originated in India where it has been played for centuries. It became popular during British rule and eventually spread to other regions. Today, carrom remains most popular in South Asian communities but is played around the world. The World Carrom Federation oversees international tournaments and has member associations in many countries.

Is Carrom Gambling?

One of the major factors in determining the permissibility of any game in Islam is whether it involves gambling (maisir). Games of chance that involve betting and rely predominantly on luck are prohibited. Carrom does not intrinsically involve gambling. The game is based on skill and strategy, not chance.

However, it is common for Muslim communities to ascribe betting to carrom and other skill-based games. Players often wager money on carrom matches, which introduces an element of gambling. But there is debate over whether the game itself constitutes gambling when played recreationally without betting.

Opinions on Permissibility of Carrom

Opinions differ among Islamic scholars regarding the permissibility of carrom. Here are some of the major views:

Permissible

Some scholars do not prohibit carrom, arguing that the game requires skill and intellect, not just luck. When played casually without betting, it is seen as a harmless recreational activity and hobby that does not violate any Islamic principles. However, betting on games and developing an obsessive attachment would be discouraged.

Proponents of this view say that carrom has benefits of keeping the mind sharp, improving focus, and bringing families and communities together. Games that encourage socialization and healthy competition are permitted in Islam as long as they do not lead to gambling or distraction from religious obligations.

Makruh (Disliked)

Scholars who consider carrom as makruh (disliked) acknowledge the game requires skill but argue that it can still lead to obsession and neglect of responsibilities. They point out that carrom boards are often found in gambling settings. The game pieces resemble dice which are associated with haram gambling. Thus, some rule that carrom should be avoided.

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This view sees carrom as a means towards the disliked activity of gambling even if not explicitly haram. At minimum, Muslims should exercise caution with these types of recreational games.

Haram (Prohibited)

The strictest view declares carrom and other table games completely prohibited. Supporters of this opinion focus on the use of carrom for gambling in many cultures. They prohibit carrom boards and pieces by association since they are tools of gambling.

These scholars also emphasize the fitna (temptation) caused by games involving disks and boards which resemble gambling. Since risks outweigh benefits, they argue such games should be avoided altogether.

Perspectives on Factors Impacting Permissibility

The debate around carrom’s permissibility involves looking at various factors:

Skill versus chance

Games predominantly based on luck are considered maisir (gambling) while those involving skill and strategy are seen as less problematic. Scholars differ on the balance of skill versus chance in carrom.

Social/family activity versus individual activity

Carrom is traditionally a social activity bringing families and communities together. Scholars favor this over lone playing which could lead to obsession.

Casual play versus competition/tournaments

Most scholars allow casual carrom recreation but prohibit formal competitive events which replicate gambling tournaments.

Association with gambling settings

Carrom’s association with gambling in some cultures leads cautious scholars to prohibit it. Others argue the game itself is neutral.

Potential for obsession/negligence of duties

Scholars balance carrom’s benefits versus harms such as distraction from obligations. At minimum, moderation is prescribed.

Customs and cultural context

Permissibility can depend on how ingrained carrom is in a particular culture and whether it is commonly associated with gambling or family recreation.

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Comparisons Between Carrom and Card/Poker Permissibility

Poker and standard playing cards are almost universally prohibited in Islam. But for carrom, the differences lead to more nuanced and varied stances:

  • Poker involves direct betting and gambling while carrom may not.
  • Playing cards are seen as purely for entertainment with higher potential for addiction. Carrom is viewed as skill-based and social.
  • Poker chips directly represent money used for gambling. Carrom coins have no monetary value.
  • Poker tables and cards are closely tied to the gambling environment while carrom boards can be recreational.
  • Poker terminology borrows from gambling. Carrom has its own distinct terminology.
  • Poker lacks benefit other than gambling. Carrom is seen by some as intellectually stimulating.

These factors explain why many scholars are more accommodating of carrom than poker and playing cards even if all involve some differing restrictions.

Conclusion

There are well-reasoned perspectives on both sides of the carrom permissibility debate in Islam. Given its recreational nature yet association with gambling in some cultures, Muslims are advised to exercise caution and moderation with carrom. Betting or allowing it to become obsessive would certainly be prohibited. But occasional, casual play, especially as a family activity, falls more into a gray area depending on cultural context and scholarly interpretation. As with many recreational activities, wisdom and balance are prescribed.

Author

  • Aminah Bradley-Pikes

    My research interest is primarily centered around risky behaviors of African-American young adults. Specifically, I’m interested in understanding how sociocultural factors influence sexual behaviors and patterns. I am also interested in investigating how racial discrimination and race-related experiences are internalized and exhibited during emerging adulthood.

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