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Islamic Sharia Laws (11 Dec 2012 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Why Two Women Witnesses?



By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

11 December 2012

One of the most controversial verses of the Quran is that of woman’s testimony. Some assume that the Quran degrades women, that it gives more advantage and higher status to men.

In chapter 2, verse 282, which is the longest verse in the Quran and which deals with financial transactions, the Quran says:

"O ye who believe! when you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down; and let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; and the scribe should not refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so he should write; and let him who owes the debt dictate, and he should be careful of (his duty to) Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it; but if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding, or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness; and call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other; and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned; and be not averse to writing it (whether it is) small or large, with the time of its falling due; this is more equitable in the sight of Allah and assures greater accuracy in testimony, and the nearest (way) that you may not entertain doubts (afterwards), except when it is ready merchandise which you give and take among yourselves from hand to hand, then there is no blame on you in not writing it down; and have witnesses when you barter with one another, and let no harm be done to the scribe or to the witness; and if you do (it) then surely it will be a transgression in you, and be careful of (your duty) to Allah, Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things."

After reading this long verse some people conclude that the Quran believes in the inferiority of women. But if one knows a little bit of science and if one does not pick up selective verses from the Quran and reads the Quran in totality and then one will not err in concluding that women are men’s inferior.

In Islam, men are expected to be the breadwinners of the family. It is not necessary for a woman to work for a living; before marriage it is the duty of her father and brother to look after her and after her marriage it is the duty of the husband and son to look after her. She need not work, but if she wants to work then no one should obstruct her.

Since financial aspects are the responsibility of men, they are expected to be well versed in financial transactions as compared to women. The other thing that should be kept in mind while reading this verse is the use of the word ‘if’. Only if one of them (women) errs or gets confused ( the Arabic word used here is ‘Tazil’, which means to err or to confused) the other can remind her. Hence, the need of the second woman is only to prevent confusion and error in the transaction. That is why the focus in the entire verse is on writing it down so that there remains no doubt.

There are other several verses in the Quran which says that a man’s witness is equal to that of a woman. There are also some hadidths which give more importance to a woman’s witness, that is, some incidents require only female witness and a male’s witness cannot be accepted.

Men and women are equal in the sight of Allah i.e., spiritually they are equal but they are not identical.

"If any do deeds of righteousness,- be they male or female - and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them. (The Noble Quran, 4:124)"

"For Muslim men and women,- for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God's praise,- for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward. (The Noble Quran, 33:35)"

"O mankind! [this includes all races and all nations] We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well-acquainted. (The Noble Quran, 49:13)"

If Islam degrades women then one has to bring in four male witnesses just to prove a point regarding woman’s chastity and if anyone errs or backs out then all of them 80 lashes; so one is bound to think a hundred times before making false allegations against chaste women.

"And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors. (The Noble Quran, 24:4)"

The difference in witness numbers is not because of inequality between men and women but it is because of different roles and natures of male and female in Islam.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-sharia-laws/aiman-reyaz,-new-age-islam/why-two-women-witnesses?/d/9638



  • All Aiman Riaz has managed to prove is that the Holy Quran is NOT a book for ALL people for all time.
    There is nothing scientific in his approach in trying to defend what appears to be a clear statement of male superiority.
    By Asif Merchant - 12/13/2012 7:28:13 AM

  • @Rational, I truly appreciate your comment and I like it. You say: "They say women are inferior in religion because they suffer from the menses and inferior in aql (wisdom) because their testimony is half." Please do not look at people to understand the Quran and Islam, read the Quran for yourself and even after reading it you are not satisfied by it then I don't blame you, at least you tried. But it is necessary that you read with an open mind and not keep any negative thoughts beforehand.

    If you keep a negative attitude from the beginning then you will look for the negatives only. This is known as confirmation bias, that is, you see those things that you want to see.

    By Aiman Reyaz - 12/12/2012 8:56:11 PM

  • Dear Aiman Reyaz
    I am happy with my understanding. I am with the people who understand the Quran better than me. They say women is inferior in religion because they suffer from the menses and inferior in aql because their testimony is half. This is what they understand from the Quran. And they are practicing it. This is the statement of Hujjat-ul-Islam.
    Everything is justified if it is in the Quran. Everything is justified if it is practiced by the prophet.
    This is exactly why we are said to read and understand the Quran with open mind.
    When one study the Quran with open mind(a different meaning for Muslims) then there is nothing that can be questioned. How can? It is the word of the All wise. How can a abd (ghulam) can question the word of the master who has prepared the jahannam for the doubters.

    By rational - 12/12/2012 10:02:29 AM

  • Aiman says, Curious you say "does islam say that men cannot be confused or forget?" etc. My response, the Quran says that if any MAN who makes allegations against chaste women and does not produce 4 witnesses then they will get 80 lashes and believe me that the interrogation of those 4 witnesses makes them "confused".
    The question was about the man as a witness in a financial transactions and he cited the example of a man making allegation against a chaste woman. Ridicuous.
    By curious - 12/12/2012 7:17:47 AM

  • I believe women have been made superior to men.
    By Manzoorul Haque - 12/12/2012 4:43:27 AM

  • For our times,this is mostly irrelevant since the credibility of evidence is tested through cross examination of witnesses. It makes no difference therefore whether the witness is male or female.
    What this verse would then mean is that it is permissible to have two women support each other while giving evidence regarding a financial transaction although the testimony of a single woman is also acceptable.
    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/12/2012 4:18:42 AM

  • @curious and rational, I think both of you need to read this line again "Since financial aspects are the responsibility of men, they are expected to be well versed in financial transactions as compared to women".
    Modern science has confirmed that women get emotionally disturbed much more easily than men. For example there is a gruesome fight scene, as I used to watch WWE my mother and my grandmother always used to say to me 'you are inhuman, you have become a robot' etc.
    Curious you say "does islam say that men cannot be confused or forget?" etc. My response, the Quran says that if any MAN who makes allegations against chaste women and does not produce 4 witnesses then they will get 80 lashes and believe me that the interrogation of those 4 witnesses makes them "confused". Here the Quran is asking for double the number of witnesses as compared to women, where it is the only exceptoin that women have to be in the majority in terms of giving witness.
    Rational you say that you forget everyday and that you wife reminds you. I congratulate you, not for a bad memory (don't mind) but for a remindful wife. I never said that the Quran says that women are inferior in their memory, as a general rule. The Quran talks specifically in that verse that the rule is for financial transactions only. Here men have a degree of advantage, because they are the breadwinners of the family. This is the only exception , all ther other verses relating to witness, according to my limited knowledge, give equality to both the sexes. in fact in some cases women have a degree of advantage, like I said in my article regarding making false allegations.
    By Aiman Reyaz - 12/12/2012 2:13:37 AM

  • Anyone can say that forgetfulness is not unique feature of the women.  How can be women inferior than man. Quran is clearly wrong. Muslims can't think beyond the Quran except few.
    I daily forget and my wife reminds me. Certainly she has better memory.
    By rational - 12/12/2012 1:42:42 AM

  • Does Islam say that men can not be confused or forget? Why then there is no other man to remind the man. Does that not mean that women are inferior to men in metal powers?
    How does qouting of the verse prove the point that women are not inferior?
    By curious - 12/11/2012 11:56:03 PM

  • Equality is fundamental in Islam and overrides all references to women's lesser status.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 12/11/2012 2:25:39 PM

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