Ottoman History 101: The Forbidden Monkey

Have you ever thought that an animal like monkey will be forbidden in your city? Well this is an interesting story during the Ottoman Empire.

During the reign of Yavuz Sultan Selim, in order to expand their power further, the Ottomans started going to Africa. In Africa, it is said that they met with a creature that they haven’t seen before in their life. That creature is monkey.

They found out that monkey is an interesting creature, so they started using them on ship. Well as we all know, monkey is an excellent climber with a very good eye sight, so on board their main chores normally will be climbing up the sail pole and stay there as a watcher who will inform the crews if there is any enemy ship on sight or anything that peaks their interest (could be an Island filled with banana, nobody knows)

After a while, the Turks started to realize that monkey is indeed a useful and lovely animal which could be train for other chores (not to mention the fact that they never seen it before, so it’s a very different thing for them). Turk sailors started to bring monkeys back to Istanbul. The Turks love them alright, all fancy and smart animal. The Turks started having monkey as a pet in house, just as we have cats and dogs nowadays. Monkeys were no longer a weird scene in the city of Istanbul, you can find them in almost every rich men’s houses.

Nothing weird yet? Here it go. During the reign of Sultan Murad III, an official from the Islamic Department of Ottoman Empire or with another word, known as mullah started a complaint. Well you see, this guy doesn’t like monkey, so he claimed that the women are using the monkey in a wrong way. When I say wrong way, yes there was dirty thinking in the process or shall I say it as ‘blue mind’ (in Malaysian slang LOL). His complaints were successful, and the Sultan finally ordered all monkeys in Istanbul to be prosecuted. Pet bazaar LOL where they sell the monkeys were rushed and all monkeys were seized to be prosecuted.

Started with Abdulkerim Effendi, all the monkeys in Istanbul were prosecuted by hanging. To this day this guy is known as the Maymunkeş Abdulkerim Effendi, which means Abdulkerim Effendi the Monkey Slayer. LOL! Since then, monkeys were forbidden in Istanbul…


Monkey in shock

Guys, as funny as this may sound, this is a real historical event during the Ottoman Empire. But of course, you can bring your pet monkey to Istanbul now with you, this event was only during that reign. I am no animal activist, but when I 1st heard of this story I was like WTH are they thinking? Nevertheless, don’t kill your monkey, it’s just wrong.

***Mullah is an educated Muslim trained in religious law and doctrine and usually holding an official post

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