PUBG Mobile is the fourth-most famous mobile video game in the world, counting more than 750 million players.
On social media, the hashtag “Ihdhifou Lo’bat PUBG” (احذفو لعبة ببجي), or “Uninstall PUBG” in Arabic, has been trending across the Arab world for more than 24 hours.
On Twitter, the hashtag is ranked fourth in Kuwait and the UAE, fifth in Egypt, sixth in Oman, and ninth in Jordan.
Muslims from Arab countries, Turkey, and even India—where the game counts 33 million active players—have used social media to voice their concerns over the new game feature, urging Muslim players to boycott and uninstall the game.
Even if it’s in the game that’s shirk. RasoolAllah(Saw) came to shun idol worshipping and guiding humans towards one true god☝️.
— Syeda Raffath ❤️ (@Smiling__Girlll) June 4, 2020
Another video for my brother deleting the game after three years of playing. You should know that, no one can force Arab to worship anything like that totem. We have only one GOD. Wait for other videos from my friends#احذفو_لعبة_ببجي#uninstallPUBG pic.twitter.com/mOuZtlyhEv
— Ahmed (@Ahmed_S0_S1) June 4, 2020
— ➹ (@kkhawlla77) June 4, 2020
PUBG Mobile, a game with a 750-million-member playerbase across the world, is a survival-themed battle adventure that simultaneously pits up to 100 players against each other on an island where they try to eliminate each other and emerge as the last survivor.
The new infamous game mode, titled “Mysterious Jungle” and released on June 2, introduced several features to the game, including the possibility to “pray” in front of totems for several boosts, such as health regeneration, consumables, and weapons.
The addition was unwelcome among a large number of Muslims who accused the game’s developers, South Korean company Bluehole, of negatively influencing the faith of their playerbase. Many were upset especially because a large part of the game’s fans are children.
Emirati newspaper Gulf News quoted Bassam Al-Shatti, an invocation and Islamic preaching professor at the University of Kuwait, to say “PUBG has violated Islamic beliefs regarding prostration and bowing to idols, and this is the greatest sin in Islam, because prostrating and bowing is worship and glorification solely and exclusively to Almighty Allah.”
“The special draw of gaming that makes [games] the preferred pastime of so many millions of kids and adults is not just entertainment, it is dangerous because it teaches them polytheism, so they prefer it and become addicted to it,” Al-Shatti said.
The same source quoted Rashid Al-Alimi, an education professor at the University of Kuwait, saying “these games are dangerous for Muslims, since they could create generations who do not know Tawhid.”
Tawhid, or the concept of monotheism, is the most important pillar in Islam, upon which the entire faith of Muslims rests.
Explaining the stance of Islam on games and entertainment, Saudi Islamic scholar Aref Bin Mazyad Al-Suhaimi told Gulf News that “Islam promotes tolerance, balance, equality, consensus, reformism, and all things that take the middle path to materialize the best interest of people. So Sharia (Islamic law) permits games that have a preponderant interest, such as shooting, racing, swimming, and horse riding.”
However, Islam has prohibited games with focuses such as gambling and those that include illegal or religiously-prohibited acts, Al-Suhaimi added, stressing that PUBG’s latest version includes a practice that is banned in Islam.