John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
It’s allegedly pro-evolution, promotes gambling, and contains symbols of “devious religions and organizations.”
Who knew a game about collecting creatures with names like “Squirtle” and “Jigglypuff” could be so religiously problematic?
The General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars, on the website of the General Presidency for Scholarly Research and Ifta, has explicitly renewed the fatwa of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas banning the controversial mobile game.
The old fatwa (No. 21,758), issued 16 years ago in 2001, considered the game a form of gambling, which is forbidden in Islam.
Sheikh Saleh Al-Fozan, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, said that the current version of the game is the same as the old one.
Diving into the text of the fatwa reveals all kinds of stuff you probably never knew about supposedly innocent Pokémon (although much of the language is clearly based on the original game and not the new mobile version). For instance, it’s full of pernicious wagering:
Two players compete with each other with a number of cards which have different values. The winner is the one who possesses the advantageous card which knocks out the less advantageous one. The loser, if he does not want to lose the card, may pay its value or the money required by the winner. This is one way of gambling done during Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic time of ignorance) when men used to gamble away their money and family, and if they lost the gambling, they would waive their money and family to the winner. Allah says in this regard, Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), and gambling, and Al-Ansâb, and Al-Azlâm (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaitan’s (Satan) handiwork.
Also bad is that the game is (allegedly) pro-Darwin. “Astonishingly, the children frequently use the word ‘evolution’ inside and outside the game,” asserts the fatwa. “You can hear them saying that this creature contained in the card has evolved to another form. They are fond of this evolution.”
And Pokémon can be seen as a platform for polytheism, as it’s full of symbols and logos of “devious religions and organizations.” Here’s more about that:
A- The six-pointed star: You rarely find a card that does not contain such a star. It is associated with Judaism, the logo and sign of the state of Israel, and the first symbol of the Masonry organizations in the world.
B- The cross: The game contains many forms of the cross which is the symbol of Christians.
C- The angles and triangles: These symbols have important meanings for many devious organizations; like Masonry.
D- Symbols of the Shinto creed: Shinto is a polytheistic religion that exists in Japan. The Japanese deify the sun, the earth and many plants and animals.