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Why is it that whenever witnesses are required in Islam, two women are required to take the place of only one man?

The Quran in Sura 2:282 says:

And let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents [contracts of loans without interest]. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her.

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In Sunni point of view, Women have deficiency in reason and in religion. That is why a woman's testimony is accepted if it is supported by another woman.

"I have not seen anyone more deficient in ability to reason and deen than you. A cautious sensible man can be led astray by some of you.” It was said: “O Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him)! What is the deficiency in our reasoning and deen?” He said: “Is not the testimony of two women equal to the witness of one man?” It was said: "What is deficient in her deen?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Is not it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” [Al-Bukhari]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained that the deficiency in woman's reasoning means their weak memory. Therefore, their testimony must be verified and supported by another woman to confirm their testimony, because they may forget and thus add or omit some of the testimony.

As for the deficiency of their religion it means they abandon Salah (prayer) and Sawm (fasting) during their menses and post-partum period. They are not commanded to repeat Salah (prayer). This is the meaning of their being lacking in deen. They will not be called to account for this shortcoming, because it is the will of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) Who legislated this for their comfort. If they were to observe Sawm during their menses and postpartum period, it would be difficult for them. Therefore, Allah commands them to abandon Sawm during their menses and post-partum period, and make up for it later. As for Salah, there is something which prevents them from ceremonial purity. Therefore, it is out of the Mercy of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) that He commands them to abandon Salah during their menses and postpartum period.

This deficiency does not mean that we cannot rely on her in narration or testimony, if she is supported by another woman. Men being better than women in reasoning and memory is general. Some women may excel men. There are many women whose reason is better than men, and are stronger in deen (Religion) and memorization. The report of the Prophet (peace be upon him) only indicates that the male gender is generally better in reasoning and religion than the female gender in the two aspects specified by the Prophet (peace be upon him). Women may perform more righteous deeds than men, their piety may be more than men, and thus their rank in the Hereafter may be better than the rank of men. 1

This is the explanation of the Scholars : Deficiency of women in Deen and reason

In fact, one of the scholars of Islam and second most highest narrator of hadeeths was Aisha (Radiallahu anha), who was a woman.

Now, most non-Muslims might think of this as a backward view. So, I want to give some logical and medical reports to support this view. So, I request them to give a patient reading with open mind and prevent emotions come in the way of their reasoning.

Please read this article which cites some medical reports and provides some reasoning : Why two witnesses?

Thank you.

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    This a good answer, although this answer will be very hard to swallow for us in the West since we are taught that women and men are equal in every respect. I would add the phrase from Surah aali-Imran: "And the male is not like the female" [3:36]. Also, just because Men may have a degree above men in terms of reasoning/deen, this doesn't make them inherently better. What makes someone better over another in Islam is piety (taqwa) – Atif Jun 21 '12 at 18:36
  • The last the paragraphs suggesting that women have inferior mental functions seems pretty conclusively false; perhaps the people on Psychology & Neuroscience can clear this up for you. – G. Bach Apr 3 '17 at 13:41
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Allah has set a social system in Quran. According to this social system, women do not have to work, they must be fed and kept safe by their families or by the government. The women are not to be independent in the Islamic social system (I don't mean that they are prohibited to be independent, they don't have to. They have right to request shelter from government. They don't need to work. But they can if they want to, it is not prohibited.).

So, in the Islamic social system, women always depends to some others in both economic means and in emotional means. When a person (not necessarily to be woman) is dependent on someone else, he/she starts to think, live and behave as the one he/she depends to. This is a psychological fact.

So, if we consider the worst conditions, a woman witness can be threaten by her family or husband, or just she can feel herself under pressure of the one she depends to. She can hide some of the facts even if she doesn't want to do so.

Of course, there are also different reasons too.
Women are too emotional. They usually exaggerate events. They have a passive role in the society (it is the same in the entire world). They can't easily express their feelings. They more try to take attention compared to men. They actually feel themselves dependent to other people.

Because of all these reasons (and maybe there are more reasons, Allah knows), two women's witness is not enough for clarifying a crime or some other matter. That doesn't mean 1 man = 2 women, that's just to make the evidence more robust.

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    Would like more information on how women "exaggerate events", "have a passive role in society", "can't express their feelings", and try to take attention compared to men. This is mostly contrary to what I have observed. Is this something the Quran indicates women are like? – user83 Jun 20 '12 at 14:56
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    I second user83' comment, can you back up that paragraph with something? Also you say women aren't prohibited from being independent and then go on saying that women are always depending on someone, which is it? Can they be independent or not? And am I correct in my understanding that you basically say that women only count less because the society structure teaches it? (Society says you are dependent -> you become dependent, NOT you are dependent -> society is formed based on that) – The Raven Queen Mar 30 '17 at 14:01
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Quran itself states the reason clearly: "if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her". This is about the way human mind works. Men keep the event in more details. This is about nature and something like a man being physically stronger than a woman. Allah that created human knows it better than any authority. So Quran have to be obeyed and a Muslim should not put questions on words of Allah. Interpretation of all cases is not so simple. We can not disobey a command while we could not find a reason for it.

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    "Men keep the event in more details." Do you have any proof for that? A quick search in google actually brings up results how women before their menopause outperform men when it comes to memorisation. – The Raven Queen Mar 30 '17 at 13:53
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Firstly this is only, as the Quran points out, in the area of business contracts. Where if two men are not brought then 1 man and two women. The Quran also points out that this is in regards to the issue of forgetfulness, because the business world isn't the natural place for a women, the women's responsibility lies in taking care of her children and her home, where it is them man's job to go out and work to support the family. Furthermore as already mentioned two women in regards to business contracts, where if a women in an area of her expertise is to give witness then that witness is sufficient.

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I think this area is heavily disputed (on witnesses in general). While the Qu'arn is very clear in your example, it does not explicitly extend that beyond financial matters.

The most commonly accepted reason that I have seen is that financial matters are generally not in the women's sphere of expertise or interests. On the contrary, many scholars say that a woman's testimony alone is fine on matters that deal with womanly areas, such as child birth. The number of women can be different depending on the scholar though.

Also, as a wrench in the system, in cases where a husband accuses his wife of unchastity, her testimony will invalidate his.

  • "The most commonly accepted reason ...", I've never heard of such a thing that you mentioned. – Gigili Jun 20 '12 at 14:08
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    Sure, this is not a commonly discussed topic. You can find a lot of information about this if you read scholars' opinions. Here is a website that has a large number of them together: renaissance.com.pk/septrefl12y2.html Search for financial, you can find more on your own if that is not enough. – Youssef G. Jun 20 '12 at 14:12

protected by Community Nov 23 '15 at 0:54

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