Praise be to Allaah.
Among the many types of intellectual games to be found all over daily newspapers and magazines are the type of puzzles called crosswords, a kind of puzzle that focuses on how well educated and widely read a person is. They cover all branches of knowledge and art, and test how bright and quick-witted a person is.
In principle, these puzzles are a form of permissible entertainment, but from what we see, many of the words used have evil implications, such as the names of artists who are insignificant, morally corrupt or intellectually deviated. Or the crosswords expect answers that are of no benefit and are not worth the time and effort required to solve the puzzle. In addition, they distract people from reading serious and useful material, which is like wasting one’s life in doing something that is not useful.
One of the strange things we often see is that readers of newspapers and magazines go straight to the puzzles, without looking at other, useful information. This love of crossword puzzles could become an addiction, leading people to neglect their duties.
On this basis, many of these puzzles would come under the category of makrooh entertainment, provided that the subject matter is not haraam and they do not lead to addiction or cause people to neglect their duties. If they do make people become negligent and forgetful, then it is more appropriate to say that they are haraam in this case.
(Adapted from the book Qadaaya al-Lahw wa’l-Tarfeeh by Ma’dhoon Rasheed, p. 188)
Muslims who prepare these crossword puzzles should try to put useful information in them, and words that will make readers learn things that will be of benefit to them. And Allaah is the source of strength.