The reason why Quran 2:82 prescribed two female witnesses to one male witness is for multiple reasons.
The reason for this witness ruling, which is 2 female witnesses to 1 male witness for commercial transactions is because women at the time and throughout much of history and even in many areas present-day were more familiar with domestic/private sphere of society while men were more familiar with the public/business sphere of society, meaning men were more financially aware. And it should be taken into consideration that a man has the financial burden to provide for his wife and daughters while women have no financial responsibility in Islam. But as we can see in modern times, many women work in the public sphere and are financially aware so they should suffice, alone, in place of one male witness with similar qualifications.
This ruling also protected female witnesses from possible bullying or manipulation. And with many of these contracts lasting for lengthy amounts of time, a female witness, possibly, would not always be available, if there might be a need to review the contract for whatever reason, since they could be busy with taking care of their kids, pregnancy, etc.
In no way does this ayah says or even infers that this witness ruling is because of the false belief that a female is more deficient in reason and intellect than a male.
The Context of Quran 2:82
Quran 2:82 is the longest Ayah in the Quran. One must read it entirely to understand why the witness ruling was designed this way.
This ayah is said to have been
revealed in connection with agricultural forward sales, but is generally
applicable to all agreements, including loans (Ṭ), where payment and delivery
do not take place simultaneously (IK, Q).
Among the variety of interpretations concerning the stipulation that, if one
cannot find two men to serve as witnesses, one may call two women and one
man, it is acknowledged that this provision is peculiar to the commercial
transactions mentioned in this verse (IK, Q, R, Ṭ) and differs from other kinds of
testimony. Other verses explicitly equate male and female testimony, such as
24:6–9, where accusations of adultery are given equal consideration whether
they are made by the husband or the wife. In the classical Islamic legal tradition,
women were generally excluded from bearing witness in cases involving
corporal punishments and qiṣāṣ (see 2:178c), but even in such cases it seems to
be a question of preference, since in the absence of a male witness, women’s
testimony would be accepted (Q). Such preferences likely reflect a general social
aversion to involving women in such matters. Moreover, since cases are
adjudicated by a judge, it is impossible, strictly speaking, to quantify the value of
testimony, and a judge simply needs all the relevant evidence to come to a
If one of the two errs, the other can remind her: “to err” means to forget
some aspect of the contract (Q, R, Ṭ). The commentators have generally hewed
close to two interpretations of this phrase: that by being reminded the erring
woman would become equal, legally, to the man; or that the two women together
were equal, legally, to the man. The latter was more widely accepted. It is also
true that some commentators, but not all, understood this verse to indicate an
essential inferiority in women’s ability to judge objectively and hence the
intrinsic unreliability of their testimony. Nothing in the verse demands such a
reading, however, and indeed the very structure of the transaction described
indicates otherwise. This verse could easily describe a situation in which two
female parties arrange a forward sale and bring in two men as witnesses. In
Islamic Law women, like men, can transact any sale or loan on their own behalf,
including any number of transactions where witnesses are not necessary; thus the
provision for two women to act as witnesses in place of a single man in forward
sales or debts must reflect a different purpose.
There are no rules about individual women entering into such contracts, but
since the women of the time, as a general rule, would have been inexperienced
with the particulars of potentially complex financial arrangements, accepting two
women in the place of one man would have been more practical, since the
purpose of such testimony was to ensure the proper observance of the particulars
of the loan or sale. Considering the social conditions of the time, for women to
participate in this way at all would have been itself a major change, and to
require two of them in such transactions can be understood as providing a
measure of protection for them against bullying or manipulation, rather than as
an indictment of their testimony. Indeed, jurists such as Abū Bakr ibn ʿArabī, in
Aḥkām al-Qur’ān, wondered why a man could not remind one woman if she
erred, and he could not arrive at an answer.
If one reads this provision for women’s testimony in light of the legally
established principle upholding women’s competence to own property and carry
out economic transactions, it suggests that the stipulation regarding women’s
testimony in the present verse is particular to this circumstance and is meant to
address certain social or communal difficulties a woman might face when
witnessing in such a case. Unlike spot sales, which require no witnesses or
written contracts, a forward contract involved items requiring a certain level of
expertise to understand. Indeed, from among those whom you approve as
witnesses suggests that it is a matter of competence in a specific area, and such
transactions would not have been widely carried out by women of the time.
Moreover, such arrangements could extend over years, and women would not
necessarily be as available to act as male witnesses, from a strictly social point
of view, over a long period of time. The trade of present goods refers to a
transaction where delivery is made at the time of payment and is thus concluded
instantaneously, obviating the need to write a formal contract.
Source: The Study Quran p. 315-318
Extra Links to check out: