Games: What Is Lawful and What Is Not?
At first, we should highlight that Islam is not against entertainment, as long as it does not keep a person from an obligation, and it does not contain anything un-Islamic. However, it is very important that a person gives great care to his time and not to waste it because “time flies.”
answering your question, Sheikh Khalid Al-Majid, faculty member at the College of Shari`ah, Al-Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University, stated,
Games fall into two categories: The first category includes such games that are useful for the matter of jihad, whether for physical (fighting) or verbal jihad. Sport is included in this category, such as swimming, shooting, horse-riding, as well as games that involve developing one’s abilities and Islamic knowledge.
these games are religiously recommendable, and those who engage in them will be rewarded so long as their intention is good and they seek to support the religion thereby. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Shoot, O Banu Isma`il [Ishmael], for your father was an archer” (Al-Bukhari). Shooting or archery includes by analogy all similar actions.
The second category involves games that are not useful for the matter of jihad. These are of two types: The first type includes games that are specifically forbidden by the texts of the Qur’an or the Sunnah, such as playing with dice, as mentioned in the hadith. These games should be avoided by the Muslim.
The second type includes games that are neither enjoined nor forbidden by the texts. These are of two kinds: The first kind is the games that include something haram, such as the games that involve statues or the games that lead to arguments and conflicts among people and result in their saying or doing something bad.
these games come under the prohibition, because of the haram consequences to which they lead, or because they are means to something that is haram. If something is the means that usually leads to something haram, then we should refrain from it.
The second type is games which do not involve anything haram, and which usually do not lead to it, like most of the games we see of football, volleyball, table tennis, etc. These are permissible, provided of the following restrictions:
1. They should be free of gambling, for example, betting between the players.
2. They should not be an obstacle to the obligatory remembrance of Allah, to prayer, or to any obligatory act of worship, such as honoring one’s parents.
3. They should not take up a lot of the player’s time, let alone taking up all of his time, causing him to be known among the people for that, or becoming his job, because then there is the fear that the Verse,(Who took their religion for a sport and pastime, and whom the life of the world beguiled. So this day We have forgotten them) (Al-A`raf 7:51) may become applicable to them.
The last condition does not have a set limit, but should be referred to what is customary among the Muslims: Whatever they regard as excessive becomes unallowable. A person should set a limit for the time spent in playing and for the time spent in serious pursuits: If the time devoted to playing is half or one-third or one-quarter, then this is too much.