MENJ and the Stoning of the She-Monkey

Responding to MENJ’s Attempt of Monkeying with the Hadith

Sam Shamoun & Jochen Katz

Introduction: An Army of Straw Men

It is no secret that the Islamic traditions contain many strange elements. One of these traditions, speaking about a group of monkeys stoning a she-monkey for adultery, apparently caused such problems for Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi (MENJ) that he felt the need to explain it (away). In his article Were She-Monkeys Stoned For Adultery?, published on the website Bismikaallahuma on 31 October 2003, he states in the introduction:

An amusing little polemic regarding a hadīth that is recorded in Sahīh al-Bukhārī has recently surfaced and is being circulated by some apostates from Islam. Naturally, the Christian missionaries too had decided to jump on the bandwagon of smearing Islam through a misinterpretation of this hadīth as well. The hadīth is recorded as follows:

Volume 5, Book 58, Number 188:

Narrated ‘Amru bin Maimun: "During the pre-lslamic period of ignorance I saw a she-monkey surrounded by a number of monkeys. They were all stoning it, because it had committed illegal sexual intercourse. I too, stoned it along with them."

The basic premise of their "charge" is that the Prophet(P) had ordered the stoning of a she-monkey, and that lapidation for zina’ (fornication) is extended to animals as well.

After presenting his case, he concludes the article with these words:

Thus, the claim that this hadīth is the basis from which the lapidation for married adulterers in Islam came about is nothing more than a damp firecracker hurled by the haters and enemies of Islam. That their view of Islam had been tainted by deep ignorance, hatred, paranoia and xenophobia is no big secret, and this latest polemic is ipso facto a confirmation of their current condition.

MENJ made the attempt to sound relaxed about the issue, calling the discussion of this hadith "amusing" in the first sentence of his introduction. The use of expressions like "smearing Islam", "hurled by the haters and enemies of Islam", and "deep ignorance, hatred, paranoia and xenophobia", however, indicate that he is rather tense about it, and very angry.

Since he accused us — i.e. "the Christian missionaries" together with a link to — of misinterpreting this hadith, we wanted to find out what exactly we had done wrong. The only page we could find that even contained the word "she-monkey" was an article exposing some of Jamal Badawi's Misinformation and Misquotations. However, the above hadith was merely quoted as a side remark in the section "Badawi on the Metamorphosis of Jews", and it was not discussed at all. Obviously, since we have not provided any kind of interpretation for this narration, it is hardly justified to accuse us of "smearing Islam through a misinterpretation of this hadith". In particular, we have never made any of the specific claims we are accused of:

  1. that Muhammad had ordered the stoning of a she-monkey,
  2. that [in Islam] lapidation for zina’ (fornication) is extended to animals as well, or
  3. that this hadith is the basis from which the lapidation for married adulterers in Islam came about.

Additionally, no claim was made that the narration originated from Muhammad, which is another one of MENJ's accusations. Perhaps MENJ is referring to a different article, and if so we would greatly appreciate it if he would be so kind as to point out the specific link that we may then correct our mistake. Only pointing to the entry page of a site with some 10,000 articles, as if these claims are all over our site and cannot be missed, is not helpful. Until he does, we will have to assume that MENJ has attacked a straw man here.

Let us investigate whether or not his representation of the argument in the only other reference is any better. In his discussion of this hadith MENJ argues:

Therefore, since it is clear that this hadīth is not a saying of the Prophet(P), much less ascribed to him, it cannot be a basis for a ruling in Islam. ...

In other words, even if we assume for the sake of the argument that the claims of the apostates are true and the above hadīth is indeed ascribed to the Prophet(P), the critics will still not be able to make the charge that the Prophet(P) had ordered the stoning of a she-monkey.

Now, what are "the apostates" actually saying? Here are the exact words of the author as found on the page linked by MENJ:

1. Narrated Amr Bin Maimun: - During the Pre-Islamic period of ignorance I saw a she-monkey surrounded by a number of monkeys. They were stoning it, because it had committed illegal sexual intercourse. I too, stoned it along with them. (Ref 1.)

There is no Islam, no Prophet (swa), in this hadis. A natural question is - how did the sahabi know about the crime? Did he talk to the monkeys? Was he gifted enough with the ability of talking to animals after Hazrat Solaiman (as)? Where was the he-monkey? Did it ran away, because after adultery whenever there is a possibility of punishment, running away with lightning speed is an eternal male culture. Then, what should we understand by adultery of animals, birds, fish, etc.? (Source: About Sahi-Bokhari; bold emphasis ours)

Are any of the charges by MENJ true? Did Fatemolla, the author of the above quoted page, really

Conclusion: Not even one of MENJ's claims about "the apostates’" arguments is true! MENJ's article is a classical straw man argument from start to finish.

However, since MENJ has dragged us into this discussion with his false accusations, we will in the following evaluate his arguments regarding this narration, and explain where we see the real problems with this hadith, and a good number of similar ones.

The Main Discussion

The hadith collections (and we dare say the Quran also) is filled with absurd fables and scientific errors which (should) make it apparent to any rational minded person that Islam cannot be a religion revealed by God. In a valiant effort, MENJ has tried to mount a strong defense for the credibility of the Islamic traditions by seeking to undermine the charge that the hadith literature contain many irrational stories that are just outright silly. Many people have long realized that one of the most effective ways to expose Islam as a false religion is to present material from the hadith collections. As already noted, the topic of the present paper is the following tradition:

Narrated 'Amr bin Maimun:
During the pre-Islamic period of ignorance I saw a she-monkey surrounded by a number of monkeys. They were all stoning it, because it had committed illegal sexual intercourse. I too, stoned it along with them. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 188)

The above is one of the clearest examples of just how irrational and silly the Islamic traditions can be. The foregoing shows that it is little wonder that people who believed in such fairy tales would also believe in Muhammad’s prophethood and the Quran as a revealed book.

Apparently realizing how embarrassing this story is for Islam, MENJ seeks to absolve his faith from being labeled as irrational and silly by calling into question the authenticity of this particular hadith in his above introduced article.

MENJ is forced to admit:

Secondly, the key phrase in the above hadīth is "During the pre-lslamic period of ignorance", which the critics had obviously overlooked. While we concede that above hadīth is indeed accepted as authentic, we would also argue that according to the principles of criticism of the hadīth, the matn of the hadīth above would be rejected even if it had been ascribed to the Prophet … (bold emphasis ours)

We are glad that MENJ was honest enough to admit that this hadith passes the test of authenticity. Despite this candid admission MENJ still seeks to undermine the hadith based on its matn (or content). MENJ’s assertion that the hadith would be rejected due to its content is extremely odd in light of the fact that THE most stringent hadith collector, Imam Bukhari, had no problem incorporating it in what is considered to be THE most authentic collection of hadiths! Note what the Sunni scholars have to say about his work:

It has been UNANIMOUSLY AGREED that Imam Bukhari's work is the most authentic of all the other works in Hadith literature PUT TOGETHER. The authenticity of Al-Bukhari's work is such that the religious learned scholars of Islam said concerning him: "The most authentic book after the Book of Allah (i.e., Al-Qur'an) is Sahih Al-Bukhari." ...

Before he recorded each Hadith he would make ablution and offer two Rak’at prayer and supplicate his Lord (Allah). Many religious scholars of Islam tried to find fault in the great remarkable collection- Sahih Al-Bukhari, BUT WITHOUT SUCCESS. It is for this reason, they UNANIMOUSLY AGREED that the most authentic book after the Book of Allah IS Sahih Al-Bukhari. (Translation of the Meanings of Summarized Sahih Al-Bukhari, Arabic-English, translated by Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali, Islamic University, Al-Madina Al-Munawwara, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; compilation: Al-Imam Zain-ud-Din Ahmad bin Abdul-Lateef Az-Zubaidi [Maktaba Dar-us-Salam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh-Saudi Arabia, 1994], pp. 18-19; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Interestingly, the writers at Islamic Awareness have gone out of their way to defend against our charge that al-Bukhari contains fraudulent and/or weak narrations:

Does MENJ pass himself off as better informed than the scholars who found no fault with Sahih Bukhari, as well as assuming that he is more qualified than Imam Bukhari was in determining what should be accepted and what should be rejected? We highly doubt it and see this as nothing more than MENJ’s desperate attempt of trying to cover up the irrationality of his religion.

MENJ then presents the following criteria from 'Abdūr Rahmān I. Doi:

As far as the Matn is concerned, the following principles of criticism of the Hadith are laid down:

(1) The Hadith should not be contrary to the text or the teaching of the Qur'an or the accepted basic principles of Islam.
(2) The Hadith should not be against the dictates of reason or laws of nature and common experience.
(3) The Hadith should not be contrary to the Traditions which have already been accepted by authorities as reliable and authentic by applying all principles.
(4) The Hadith which sings the praises and excellence of any tribe, place or persons should be generally rejected
(5) The Hadith that contains the dates and minute details of the future events should be rejected.
(6) The Hadith that contains some remarks of the Prophet which are not in keeping with the Islamic belief of Prophethood and the position of the Holy Prophet or such expressions as may not be suitable to him, should be rejected. [2]

It is quite clear that MENJ is desperately seeking to provide a credible defense of what he himself knows is simply indefensible. There is nothing in the text that comes remotely close in failing the so-called criteria of authenticity, with the possible exception of point (2). Presumably, MENJ is reasoning that since the hadith goes against reason, nature and experience it is therefore false. But this assumes a priori that Islam is reasonable and does not contradict logic, nature and common sense (or experience).

The problem with appealing to this criterion is that it discredits a great bulk of the Quran and the hadith literature. Note for instance the following Islamic traditions and you decide whether or not they contradict reason and common experience:

Narrated Abu Dharr:
The Prophet asked me at sunset, "Do you know where the sun goes (at the time of sunset)?" I replied, "Allah and His Apostle know better." He said, "It goes (i.e. travels) till it prostrates Itself underneath the Throne and takes the permission to rise again, and it is permitted and then (a time will come when) it will be about to prostrate itself but its prostration will not be accepted, and it will ask permission to go on its course but it will not be permitted, but it will be ordered to return whence it has come and so it will rise in the west. And that is the interpretation of the Statement of Allah: ‘And the sun Runs its fixed course for a term (decreed). That is The Decree of (Allah) The Exalted in Might, The All-Knowing.’" (36.38) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 421)

The translator has an interesting footnote here:

The procedure of the sun mentioned in this Hadith and similar other things mentioned in the Qur’an like the prostration of the trees, herbs and stars (V. 55:6) are beyond our limited knowledge of this universe. It is interpreted that these are mentioned so because of the limited understanding of the people at that time about matters of the universe. (bold emphasis ours)

Muhammad also believed that Jews were transformed into animals:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "A group of Israelites were lost. Nobody knows what they did. But I do not see them except that they were cursed and changed into rats, for if you put the milk of a she-camel in front of a rat, it will not drink it, but if the milk of a sheep is put in front of it, it will drink it."[1] I told this to Ka'b who asked me, "Did you hear it from the Prophet?" I said, "Yes." Ka'b asked me the same question several times; I said to Ka'b. "Do I read the Torah? (i.e. I tell you this from the Prophet.)"[2] (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 524)

The translator's footnotes state:

[1] It was illegal for the Israelites to eat the meat or drink the milk of camels while they were allowed to eat the meat and drink the milk of sheep. The Prophet inferred from the rats' habit that some Israelites had been transformed into rats.

[2] Later on the Prophet ... was informed THROUGH INSPIRATION about the fate of those Israelites: They were transformed into pigs and monkeys. (bold emphasis ours)

Another one in this category:

Narrated Abu 'Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash'ari:
that he heard the Prophet saying, "From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful. And there will be some people who will stay near the side of a mountain and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, 'Return to us tomorrow.' Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and He will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 69, Number 494v)

Here is one on running stones:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, "(The Prophet) Moses was a shy person and used to cover his body completely because of his extensive shyness. One of the children of Israel hurt him by saying, 'He covers his body in this way only because of some defect in his skin, either leprosy or scrotal hernia, or he has some other defect.' Allah wished to clear Moses of what they said about him, so one day while Moses was in seclusion, he took off his clothes and put them on a stone and started taking a bath. When he had finished the bath, he moved towards his clothes so as to take them, but the stone took his clothes and fled; Moses picked up his stick and ran after the stone saying, 'O stone! Give me my garment!' Till he reached a group of Bani Israel who saw him naked then, and found him the best of what Allah had created, and Allah cleared him of what they had accused him of. The stone stopped there and Moses took and put his garment on and started hitting the stone with his stick. By Allah, the stone still has some traces of the hitting, three, four or five marks. THIS IS WAS WHAT ALLAH REFERS TO IN HIS SAYING:-- "O you who believe! Be you not like those Who annoyed Moses, But Allah proved his innocence of that which they alleged, And he was honorable In Allah's Sight." (33.69) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 616)

We not only have stones that run, but there are talking stones as well!


Jabir b. Samura reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: I recognise the stone in Mecca which used to pay me salutations before my advent as a Prophet and I recognise that even now. (Sahih Muslim, Book 030, Number 5654)

In fact, stones will help the Muslims kill the unbelieving Jews at the end of the age:

Narrated Abdullah bin Umar:
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "The Jews will fight with you, and you will be given victory over them so that a stone will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew behind me; kill him!’" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 791; see also Book 52, Number 177)

Narrated AbuHurayrah:
Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) said: The Last Hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews. (Sahih Muslim, Book 041, Number 6985)

It doesn’t stop there. Muslims were privy to a date-palm tree crying out loud!

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:
The Prophet used to stand by a stem of a date-palm tree (while delivering a sermon). When the pulpit was placed for him we heard that stem crying like a pregnant she-camel till the Prophet got down from the pulpit and placed his hand over it. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 13, Number 41)

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:
The Prophet used to stand by a tree or a date-palm on Friday. Then an Ansari woman or man said. "O Allah's Apostle! Shall we make a pulpit for you?" He replied, "If you wish." So they made a pulpit for him and when it was Friday, he proceeded towards the pulpit (for delivering the sermon). The date-palm cried like a child! The Prophet descended (the pulpit) and embraced it while it continued moaning like a child being quietened. The Prophet said, "It was crying for (missing) what it used to hear of religious knowledge given near to it." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 784)

There is also a tree which relayed information regarding the unseen to Muhammad!

Narrated 'Abdur-Rahman:
"I asked Masruq, ‘Who informed the Prophet about the Jinns at the night when they heard the Qur'an?’ He said, ‘Your father 'Abdullah informed me that a tree informed the Prophet about them.’" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 199)

We even have talking food!

Narrated 'Abdullah:
We used to consider miracles as Allah's Blessings, but you people consider them to be a warning. Once we were with Allah's Apostle on a journey, and we ran short of water. He said, "Bring the water remaining with you." The people brought a utensil containing a little water. He placed his hand in it and said, "Come to the blessed water, and the Blessing is from Allah." I saw the water flowing from among the fingers of Allah's Apostle, and no doubt, WE HEARD THE MEAL GLORIFYING ALLAH, WHEN IT WAS BEING EATEN (by him). (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 779)

This reminds us of a scene from the Three Stooges where Curly couldn’t eat his sandwich since the sandwich kept trying to bite him!

We also have the problem with the Quranic fable of the talking animals (Surah 27:15-44), see this article for a detailed discussion.

In fact, Muhammad even believed that there are dragons who torture people in their graves!

Narrated AbuSa'id
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: There dominate NINETY-NINE DRAGONS over the unbeliever in the grave. They (constantly) bite him and sting him till there comes the hour (of resurrection). (These dragons are so poisonous) that if one of them exhales on the Earth, no verdure will ever grow upon it. Reported by Darimi, Tirmidhi transmitted something similar but he said seventy instead of ninety-nine. (Al-Tirmidhi, Number 46; ALIM CD-ROM Version)

Narrated AbuSa'id
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) went out to the prayer and saw the people looking as if they were grinning he said, "If you were to keep much in remembrance death which is the cutter-off of pleasures, it would distract you from what I see. Keep much in remembrance death which is the cutter-off of pleasure, for a day does not come to the grave without its saying, ‘I am the house of exile, I am the house of solitude, I am the house of dust, I am the house of worms.’ When a believer dies the grave says to him, ‘Welcome and greeting; you are indeed the dearest to me of those who walk upon me. I have been given charge of you today and you have come to me and you will see how I shall treat you.’ It will then expand for him as far as the eye can see and a door to Paradise will be opened for him. But when the profligate or infidel is buried the grave says to him, ‘No welcome and no greeting to you; you are the most hateful to me of those who walk upon me. I have been given charge of you today and you have come to me and you will see how I shall treat you.’ AbuSa'id told that Allah's Messenger indicated it by interlacing his fingers. Then he said, "SEVENTY DRAGONS will be put in charge of him of such a nature that if one of them were to breathe on the earth it would produce no crops as long as the world lasted, and they will bite and scratch him till he is brought to the reckoning." He also reported Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying. "The grave is one of the gardens of Paradise, or one of the pits of Hell." Tirmidhi transmitted it. (Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 1429- ALIM CD-ROM Version)

MENJ also raised the issue that this hadith is referring to pre-Islamic times, obviously with the hope of casting doubt on its authenticity:

The points we have made should make it clear that ‘Amrū bin Maīmūn was relating his thinking or perception prior to the advent of Islam - how he had foolishly believed that even monkeys had committed adultery! It happened during a period whereby the pre-Islamic Arabs would indulge in the most detestable acts such as burying their daughters alive and doing the tawaf while they were naked. Thus this means that Islam has elevated the status of mankind by making them more rational and mindful of their actions, a conclusion that the haters and enemies of Islam would certainly not like to admit.

The immediate problem with MENJ’s claim is that 'Amr bin Maimun wasn’t simply relating thoughts or perceptions which he held before Islam, but reported his actual participation in a monkey stoning ceremony! It seems that Islam didn’t help 'Amr bin Maimun realize that his alleged stoning of a she-monkey couldn’t have possibly happened since monkeys don’t commit adultery! (as admitted by MENJ himself). Furthermore, we showed above that even after the advent of Islam, Muhammad and his Companions were teaching foolish things similar to what 'Amr bin Maimun reported. Muhammad and his Companions believed that ants, birds, stones, trees and food could talk, that stones could run, that the sun traveled to God’s throne, that humans were turned to animals etc.

The issue is not only this isolated hadith. The Qur'an states three times that some Jews were turned into monkeys (S. 2:66; 5:60; 7:166) and several hadith ascribed to Muhammad himself speak of various people being turned into rats, pigs or monkeys (cf. "Badawi on the Metamorphosis of Jews"). [Just as those Israelites that were turned into rats still observed the Jewish dietary laws (Sahih Bukhari 4.524), those monkeys may just have been former Jews that still obeyed the command to stone the adulterers among them.] The hadith on the stoning of the she-monkey is not contrary to the general teaching of Islam, but it is firmly embedded into the Islamic world view.

MENJ's reference to some pagan Arabs' custom of burying their baby daughters alive or circambulating the Kaaba while naked is a false analogy. First, this hadith does not describe a custom at all, it is about a singular event that was allegedly witnessed by somebody who would later become a companion of the Muhammad. Second, those detestable practices were explicitly condemned by Muhammad. Islam has brought some reform that was good, but it doesn't automatically follow that Islam is therefore right, good and rational in every respect. Indeed, to make such an argument would not be rational. Nor does it follow that everything that happened before Islam was evil, wrong, and irrational.

As silly as 'Amr bin Maimun's story looks to us today, the following questions are certainly relevant: Why would Imam Bukhari have added this narration to his Sahih collection if he didnt't think this story to be thoroughly in agreement with Islam? The introductory phrase "during the pre-Islamic period of ignorance" only gives a date to the event, it is not invalidating the event as such. Otherwise MENJ would also have to reject many other hadiths that report incidents about the period before the advent of Islam, simply because it happened before Islam, not only the above quoted hadith of a stone saluting Muhammad before he became a prophet (Sahih Muslim 5654).

Nowhere in this hadith is it stated that 'Amr bin Maimun merely thought the monkeys were stoning the she-monkey for adultery, but recognized and abandoned this silly misunderstanding after he encountered Islam. Moreover, the fact that this hadith is part of Sahih Bukhari means that not only Imam Bukhari himself but all the early upright and honorable Muslims who make up the sound chain of narrators (isnad) for this story saw obviously no problem with its message either.

MENJ may turn around and say that the preceding examples from the Quran and ahadith are demonstrations of supernatural acts which Allah bestowed on prophets and messengers. MENJ may even chide us for bringing these up as examples of irrationality seeing that we also believe in the supernatural. The problem with this assertion is that it may be possible to pass some of these off as miracles, but it won’t work for all of them.

For instance, it is not a miracle to say that the sun travels through space until it reaches the throne of Allah. Nor is it a miracle for Solomon to understand the language of birds and ants since the way this story is presented presupposes that ants and other animals can speak in the same way that humans do! The problem is not the miracle of Solomon's understanding but of the ants' talking in the first place. Why this poses major scientific problems is demonstrated in detail in the article The Qur'an and the Story of the Talking Ants.

It is little wonder that the late Muhammad Asad concluded that this story of Solomon and the talking animals was nothing more than a legend:

"In this instance, Solomon evidently refers to his own understanding and admiration of nature (cf. 38:31-33 and the corresponding notes) as well as to his loving compassion for the humblest of God's creatures, as a great divine blessing: and this is the Qur'anic moral of the LEGENDARY story of the ant." (Asad, The Message of the Qur'an [Dar Al-Andalus Limited 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar rpt. 1993], p. 578, fn. 17; bold and capital emphasis ours)

MENJ cites Imam Ibn Hajar Al-Askalani’s commentary on Sahih Al-Bukhari, presumably to refute the soundness of this tradition. The only problem is that Ibn Hajar doesn’t deny the contents of the text, but actually defends it! This is the quotation:

Interestingly, Ibn Hajar in his Fath al-Barī had discussed at length the exegesis of the above hadīth. He quotes from Ibn Abūl-Barr as follows: ...

Ibn Abūl-Barr has denounced this report of 'Amrū Ibn Maīmūn and said: "It includes attributing adultery to a creature not assigned (with distinction between lawful and unlawful) and implementation of legal punishment on animals. This is denounced before scholars".[3]

Then Ibn Hajar responds to the above argument of Ibn Abdūl-Barr:

...I answer that the event being similar to that of adultery and stoning does not necessitate that it is really adultery or legal punishment. It is called so because it is similar to it, so it does not necessitate assignment of animals (with distinction between lawful and unlawful).[4]

In other words, even if we assume for the sake of the argument that the claims of the apostates are true and the above hadīth is indeed ascribed to the Prophet(P), the critics will still not be able to make the charge that the Prophet(P) had ordered the stoning of a she-monkey.

It is amazing that MENJ failed to notice that Ibn Hajar wasn’t refuting the story’s authenticity but was responding to Ibn Abūl-Barr’s denunciation of the report’s soundness. If anything, since Ibn Hajar was an authority on the Hadith, his opinion serves to vindicate the authenticity of the report and soundly refutes MENJ who would like to reject the hadith altogether!

MENJ is obviously attacking a straw man here by somehow assuming that Ibn Hajar’s comments absolve Muhammad in light of the fact that no one said that Muhammad commanded the stoning of the she-monkey! (At least not in the links provided by MENJ.) Since so far he has not cited one critic who attributed the hadith to Muhammad, MENJ is simply arguing a non-issue at this point. The real issue which MENJ needs to address is that the companions believed such nonsense (scientifically), and not that we are supposed to stone monkeys (legal issues).

As a last act of desperation, MENJ turns to the Holy Bible for vindication:

If the above hadīth is used to condemn Islam with regards to treatment towards animals, then the Bible has the following to say:

If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he must be put to death, and you must kill the animal. If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.[5]

In other words, an animal that has committed its sin of adultery is liable to be punished for a "crime" it is unaware of in the first place, according to the Bible.

First, the hadith under discussion wasn’t used to condemn Islam for its treatment of animals, but for its utter silliness and foolishness. The claim that monkeys commit adultery and that they also are capable of stoning those caught in the act is completely irrational to put it mildly. It should be placed with Aesop’s Fables.

Second, MENJ is so desperate that he has to commit the fallacy of false analogy in order to defend Islam. Unlike Islam, nowhere do we find in the Holy Bible stories of animals committing adultery with other animals, and then being stoned as a result of it. Third, the animal wasn’t being put to death because of adultery but because it had been sexually defiled, making it ceremonially unclean for sacrifice, food, clothing etc. Since it was neither good for sacrifice nor for eating etc., then the only option left was to kill it.

According to Jewish tradition the reason why the animal was put to death was because the sight of it would have been a constant reminder of the grossly immoral and abominable act. (m. San. 7:4)

Third, we find Muhammad commanding the killing of any animal that had been sexually violated by humans:

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:
The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: If anyone has sexual intercourse with an animal, kill him and kill it along with him. I (Ikrimah) said: I asked him (Ibn Abbas): What offence can be attributed to the animal? He replied: I think he (the Prophet) disapproved of its flesh being eaten when such a thing had been done to it. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4449; online edition; italics emphasis ours)

The above hadith is quite interesting in light of MENJ’s snide remarks against the biblical command to kill both the person and the animal. We return the favor by using MENJ’s own comment against him and ask, what do you with Muhammad’s command that an animal is liable to be punished for a "crime" it is unaware of in the first place?

Amazingly, there is a contradiction in the hadith which follows right after the one cited above:

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:
There is no prescribed punishment for one who has sexual intercourse with an animal. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4450; online edition)

Hence, we have two contradictory teachings on whether a person committing bestiality should be punished or not!

Finally, since MENJ makes claims about the good treatment of animals in Islam, implying that according to Islam nobody should kill a monkey, we would like to refer our readers to the following articles by Silas:

After reading these articles the reader will be able to see that Muhammad’s relationship to snakes and dogs was anything but animal-friendly. Muslims were commanded to kill snakes and dogs because of Muhammad’s superstitious belief that they are "devils". Since MENJ raised this issue, we would like for him to explain in what way does Muhammad’s orders grant animal rights to dogs and snakes?


It is clear (at least to us anyway) that, despite his valiant efforts, MENJ didn’t accomplish his aim of brushing aside the embarrassment the hadīth regarding the stoning of a she-monkey for adultery causes for Islam. His straw man arguments, logical fallacies (such as the false analogy with the Bible’s statement on bestiality), and the bringing up of irrelevant quotes and issues show quite plainly that Islam cannot be defended on rational grounds. MENJ’s belief that Islam is a revealed religion has tainted his view so that he is incapable of seeing the utter irrationality of his faith, and causes him to set aside logic and common sense so as to continue believing that Muhammad is a prophet and that the Quran is God’s word. His latest polemic is ipso facto a confirmation of his current inability of seeing Islam for what it truly is.


This article was essentially finished on 29 December 2003. It was sitting in the queue of materials to be reviewed and formatted for a long time. On 26 January 2004, Bismikaallahuma announced in their "Recent Updates" section that "The article Were She-Monkeys Stoned For Adultery? has been updated with a crucial quote from Ibn Qutaiba. The rest of the article remains untouched."

We looked at the added quotation from Ibn Qutaiba and could not find anything of substance that would require changes in the above article. Probably at that time, the name "Hesham Azmy" was added as an acknowledgement since he provided the translation of this "crucial quote".

Whether at that time, or some time later, the Bismikaallahuma team seems to have realized that their unspecific link to the home page of Answering Islam wasn't really helpful (perhaps a reader asked them where it was, and they were unable to find such a page). In any case, they simply removed the link, but they kept the charge that "the Christian missionaries" make these claims. However, they still do so without giving any reference or other evidence for their accusation.

Finally, we accidentally found out that in the Malay section of our website there is an article that has a small discussion of this hadith. It is the article "Ilmu Sains" di dalam al-Quran dan Lain-lain Kejanggalan which is mostly a translation of an English article authored by Denis Giron. He writes:

The following Hadith speaks of monkeys that are Muslims:

Sahih Bulhari Volume 5, Book 58, Number 188:

Narrated 'Amr bin Maimun:

During the pre-lslamic period of ignorance I saw a she-monkey surrounded by a number of monkeys. They were all stoning it, because it had committed illegal sexual intercourse. I too, stoned it along with them.

It is a rule in both Islam and Judaism that women who commit adultery are to be stoned. According to the above Hadith monkeys were subject to this law as well. What other laws do monkeys follow? Are they required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca? Are they required to read the Qur'an? What constitutes adultery in the monkey world? This is simply a myth. This is similar to a story found in the Ramayana, an ancient Hindu epic, that talks of the monkey Hanuman, and others of his kind, fighting for control of the monkey kingdom. (Source: Denis Giron, Does Islamic literature contain scientific miracles?)

Despite the fact that he only linked to two other websites, the above could well be the true source of MENJ's anger, and the article that he is actually responding to. My reasons for this educated guess will be given shortly. But first, let's perform another straw men count. Did Denis Giron

The first three of MENJ's charges are again completely wrong. The fourth one is misinterpreted, since despite a similar wording Denis Giron says something different. He stated that stoning is the punishment for adultery in (a) Judaism and (b) Islam. Then he interprets the above hadith to mean that this law was/is also in force among (c) monkeys. He does not postulate a dependency. He does not say that this hadith means that the Islamic law of stoning is extended to monkeys, let alone animals in general. This would have been strange reasoning anyway to ‘extend’ a law into the past. Just as this law was first in Judaism before it was incorporated into Islam, so the alleged stoning event of this hadith happened among the monkeys "in the pre-Islamic period", i.e. it could not be an "extension" of Islamic law which did not yet exist, and nobody ever argued that Islam teaches Muslims to apply this law whenever they see fornicating animals. Thus, as before, all of MENJ's charges are straw man arguments.

Here are the reasons why Denis Giron's article is very likely the source of MENJ's reaction. (1) When formulating his reply, he simply took the quotation of the hadith from this article via "copy and paste", including the typo that is contained in it. The quotation of the hadith in Denis Giron's and in MENJ's article both have the word "pre-lslamic" (i.e. pre-LSLAMIC) instead of "pre-Islamic". This observation by itself would not be sufficient, since Giron probably got the misspelled version from the MSA hadith database that also has the typo (as accessed on 31 March 2004), and from which it has spread to some fifty documents on the internet (Google count on the same day). (2) Giron's article is the only one I have found that explicitly talks about the law of stoning existing in Islam and Judaism, and "monkeys being subject to this law as well". Even though MENJ misinterpreted that particular statement, it is likely the source for his charge against those apostates who allegedly claim that "lapidation for zina’ (fornication) is extended to animals as well". (3) Only Giron's article being the source would allow MENJ's introductory claim to make sense:

An amusing little polemic regarding a hadīth that is recorded in Sahīh al-Bukhārī has recently surfaced and is being circulated by some apostates from Islam. Naturally, the Christian missionaries too had decided to jump on the bandwagon of smearing Islam through a misinterpretation of this hadīth as well. ...

Yes, the webmaster of the Malay section of Answering Islam translated part of an article by Denis Giron who is an apostate from Islam. However, it took a considerable amount of detective work to make sense of MENJ's first paragraph. MENJ himself had apparently forgotten why he wrote what he wrote, or otherwise he would have placed his links correctly, instead of removing the second one after he could not find the right page anymore.

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