Stoning Adulterous Monkeys in Saheeh Al-Bukhari
In this article we will be examining the narration of Amr bin Maymoun and the stoning of the event of the stoning of the adulterous monkeys. Even though this is a general argument brought up against Islam by non-Muslims, it has become popular ammo for modern Shias.
Generally, Shias use this narration in order to attack Al-Bukhari himself and to attack the Sunni system of hadith gradings. Shias also use this hadith to suggest that Sunnis are irrational and gullible. We shall respond to these accusations below.
The article will be taking a look at the following topics:
– The Event of the Adulterous Monkeys
– Did Al-Bukhari Fabricate this Narration?
– Is this a Prophetic Narration?
– Are Sunnis Gullible for Believing in this Narration?
– The Dilemma and Hypocrisy of Shia Polemicists
The Event of the Adulterous Monkeys
Most of those that are already here are familiar with the event, however, a quick recap is in order for the sake of clarity.
Al-Bukhari narrates #3849 that Amr bin Maymoun said: In pre-Islamic times, I saw monkeys that gathered upon monkeys who fornicated. They began to stone them, so I stoned them as well.
The narration is extremely short and does not contain any details. A detailed version can be found in Ma’rifat Al-Sahaba by Abi Nu’aym 2/2046 where Isa bin Hittan said: I entered the Kufa Masjid where I saw Amr bin Maymoun sitting with some people. A man asked, “What is the strangest thing that you said in the pre-Islamic times?” He replied, “When I was cultivating for the people at Yemen, I saw a group of monkeys that gathered. I saw a (male) monkey – or monkeys – that laid down, then another (female) monkey stick it’s hand under it’s neck. Then, they hugged. Then, another monkey came and poked her. She raised her head and looked at him. She then removed her hand from underneath the head of the (first male) monkey. Then, they moved to another area that wasn’t too far away where I saw them having intercourse. Then the monkeys returned to where they came. She then attempted to put her hand under the neck of the (first male) monkey, he noticed something, got up, smelled her back-side, and scream. The monkeys gathered and he started to point at him and her. He (Amr bin Maymoun) said: Then then scattered. Not long after, the monkey was brought, and I was sure of how she looked. He said: They then placed them both in an area that had a lot of sand, placed them in a hole, then stoned them to death. He said: By Allah, I saw the act of stoning before Allah sent Mohammad – peace be upon him – .
Grading: All the narrators are reliable, with the exception of Isa bin Hittan. There isn’t any information about him apart from Al-Ijli and Ibn Hibban who are known for strengthening unknown narrators.
Did Al-Bukhari Fabricate this Narration?
Before even explaining the narration, it is important for readers to be aware that this narration is that the event is not narrated by Al-Bukhari. That narration can also be found in Al-Khara’itee’s I’itilal Al-Quloob #181 and Masawi’ Al-Akhlaq #469. We have also previously quoted a more descriptive version of the hadith from Abu Nu’aym’s Ma’rifat Al-Sahaba. Ibn Abd Al-Barr also includes this narration in his Istee’aab and states that the chains of the narration all lead back to Abd Al-Malik bin Muslim, who heard it from Isa bin Hattan.
Al-Bukhari in his Al-Tareekh Al-Kabeer quotes this narration through the path of Abu Balj as well. This means that this narration has three narrators narrating it from Amr bin Maymoun: (1) Hussain bin Abd Al-Rahman, (2) Isa bin Hittan, and (3) Abu Balj.
With the above in mind, no sane person can accuse Al-Bukhari of fabricating this report, but the most that one can do is accuse Amr bin Maymoun, since three different people narrated this from him.
Is this a Prophetic Narration?
No. It is not. The narration from Amr bin Maymoun includes the events that he himself claims to have witnessed. He never said that the Prophet – peace be upon him – narrated these events. Shias that accuse Sunnis of attributing this to the Prophet – peace be upon him – only do so due to their blind hatred of Sunnism. If they were to read the hadith again, they would realize that their accusation is unfounded.
Are Sunnis Gullible for Believing in this Narration?
The Qur’an is filled with the supernatural, and yet, the supernatural events in the Qur’an are accepted by both sects.
To believe in the supernatural does not necessitate gullibility. Shia sources include heaps of material that contain supernatural elements that far exceed this narration by Amr bin Maymoun. However, Shias never dismiss those. The narration of Amr bin Maymoun is only targeted because it exists in a Sunni book, in this case, the most famous Sunni book, Saheeh Al-Bukhari.
Why do Sunnis accept this narration? Today, Sunnis believe in the narration because it was included in Saheeh Al-Bukhari. However, in the past, Amr bin Maymoun’s narration was accepted since he was known to be a pious man. He was praised by Yahya bin Ma’een and Nasa’ee, as well as other hadithists. The companions of the Prophet – peace be upon him – accepted him as well. (See his biography in Tahtheeb Al-Tahtheeb)
The Dilemma and Hypocrisy of Shia Polemicists
Even though Shias love to flaunt this hadith in the faces of Sunnis to suggest their gullibility and idiocy, they will use the narrations of Amr bin Maymoun whenever it suits them for polemical gains. It should be known that Shias argue that Amr bin Maymoun is the narrator of the narration which states that Ali slept in the bed of the Prophet – peace be upon him – when he migrated to Madinah.
Refer to this narration in Wilayat.net in which the author mocks the hadith of Amr bin Maymoun above. The article is entitled: Laugh with Bukhari!
Then, on the same site, the narration of Amr bin Maymoun is used since it supports Shiasm.
However, this type of mistake is not one that only online polemicists make, but rather, scholars themselves like Ayatollah Al-Milani fell into this hole when he rejected this narration as a fabrication here, but then referred to another narration by Amr bin Maymoun as: “One of the strongest narrations for the Imamate of Amir Al-Mu’mineen (Ali)!”
In conclusion, the narration is not a prophetic narration in the first place, but it is a testament to the obsessive nature of Shia polemicists that attempt to clutch at every straw in order to belittle their Sunni opponents.
May Allah gave us patience.