Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Why is the witness of one man considered to be equal to the witness of two women?


Why is the witness of two women considered to be equal to the testimony of one man?

be to Allaah.

What is meant by witness
or testimony is something by which the thing testified may be proven
and known to be true and correct, so it is information about it. 
With regard to the witness of two women being equal to the testimony
of one man. Allaah has mentioned the wisdom behind specifying the number
of two as being that a woman may forget or get confused, so the other
woman can remind her, as He said: 

“…And get two witnesses
out of your own men. And if there are not two men (available), then
a man and two women, such as you agree for witnesses, so that if one
of them (two women) errs, the other can remind her…”

[al-Baqarah 2:282
– interpretation of the meaning] 

With regard to the phrase, “that if one of them (two
women) errs”, Ibn Katheer said: “This means, the two women, if one
of them forgets the testimony, then ‘the other can remind her’,
i.e., she can remind her about the matter concerning which testimony
is being given.” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, part 1, p. 724) 

Allaah has commanded the testimony of two women so as
to be sure that they remember, because the mind and memory of two women
takes the place of the mind and memory of one man. (See I’laam al-Muwaqqa’een,
part 1, p. 75). 

This does not mean that a woman does not understand or
that she cannot remember things, but she is weaker than man in these
aspects – usually. Scientific and specialized studies have shown that
men’s minds are more perfect than those of women, and reality and experience
bear witness to that. The books of knowledge are the best witness to
that; the knowledge which has been transmitted by men and the ahaadeeth
which have been memorized by men far outnumber those which have come
via women. 

This has to do with gender, i.e., the gender of men is
more perfect than the gender of women. Allaah says (interpretation of
the meaning): 

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women,
because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because
they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous
women are devoutly obedient (to Allaah and to their husbands), and guard
in the husband’s absence what Allaah orders them to guard (e.g. their
chastity and their husband’s property)”

[al-Nisaa’ 4:34] 

Nevertheless, there
are some women who are far superior to men in their reason and insight,
but they are few, and the ruling is based on the majority and the usual

A woman may compensate for her weaknesses by striving
hard, and surpass men when they are negligent. Hence we find that in
some colleges, female students surpass male students because of their
greater efforts and their keenness to succeed when many of the male
students are negligent and are not eager to learn. A man may also excel
over a woman in some fields that are basically hers, so we find that
some of the most skilled chefs, tailors, cosmeticians and obstetricians
on the international level are men. The point is that usually – and
no wise person would dispute this – most of the prominent people in
the religious sciences, such as fiqh, hadeeth, tafseer, ‘aqeedah and
preaching, and in the worldly sciences such as medicine, astronomy,
engineering, physics, chemistry, etc. are men. 

If we think about the western societies in which men
and women are regarded as equal in all aspects, we will find that despite
that men still prevail. Still, Allaah has given women pre-eminence and
has favoured them over men in some aspects, such as caring for children,
and showing patience, love and compassion towards them, and managing
the home. Hence the sharee’ah gives custody to them, for the mother
is the first school, from which the future men, leaders of the world
and scholars of the ummah graduate. What virtue can be greater than

Islam encourages special care for the mother and her
children, and enjoins upon children to honour their mother, treat her
kindly and give her preferential treatment above the father. It was
narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: “A man said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah,
who among the people is most deserving of my good companionship?’ He
said, Your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father,
then those who are closest in order of closeness.’” (Narrated by
Muslim, 2548). What greater honour can there be than this? 

So let everyone work in his or her field of specialization.
Men should not interfere in pregnancy and breastfeeding, and women should
not be involved in jihad, fighting the enemy, or holding the positions
of khaleefah or ruler. Whatever is permitted to both of them should
be done within the guidelines of sharee’ah, such as not allowing free
mixing of the sexes and not neglecting other duties such as those of
husbands and wives. 

And Allaah is the Source of strength.

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