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Update

EQUALITY OF WITNESSES

Answer:

It is not true that two female witnesses are always considered as equal to only one male witness. It is true only in certain cases. There are about five verses in the Qur’an that mention witnesses, without specifying male or female. There is only one verse in the Qur’an, that says two female witnesses are equal to one male witness. This verse is Surah Baqarah, chapter 2 verse 282. This is the longest verse in the Qur’an and deals with financial transactions. It says:

"Oh! ye who believe!
When ye deal with each other,
in transactions involving future obligation
in a fixed period of time
reduce them to writing and get two witnesses
out of your own men and if there are not two men,
then a man and two women, such as ye choose,
for witnesses so that if one of them errs
the other can remind her."
            [Al-Qur’an 2:282]

This verse of the Qur’an deals only with financial transactions. In such cases, it is advised to make an agreement in writing between the parties and take two witnesses, preferably both of which should be men only. In case you cannot find two men, then one man and two women would suffice.

There are about five verses in the Qur’an which speak about witnesses without specifying man or woman.

While making a will of inheritance, two just persons are required as witnesses. In Surah Maidah chapter 5 verse 106, the Glorious Qur’an says:

"Oh you who believe!
When death approaches any of you,
(take) witnesses among yourself when making bequests."
                                  [Al-Qur’an 5:106]

two just persons of your own (brotherhood)
or other from outside if you are journeying
through the earth and the chance of death befalls you."
                                  [Al-Qur’an 65:2]

Two persons endued with justice in case of talaq.

"Four witnesses are required
in case of charge against chaste women,
                                  [Al-Qur’an 24:4]

There are some scholars who are of the opinion that the rule of two female witnesses equal to one male witness should be applied to all the cases. This cannot be agreed upon because one particular verse of the Qur’an from Surah Noor chapter 24, verse 6 clearly equates one female witness and one male witness:

"And those who launch a charge
against their spouses, and have (in support)
no evidence but their own -
their solitary evidence can be received."
                                [Al-Qur’an 24:6]

Hazrat Ayesha (RA) hadith narrated of one witness

Many jurists agree that even one witness of a woman is sufficient for the sighting of the crescent of the moon. Imagine one woman witness is sufficient for one of the pillars of Islam, i.e. fasting and the whole Muslim community of men and women agree and accept her witness! Some jurists say that one witness is required at the beginning of Ramadaan and two witnesses at the end of Ramadaan. It makes no difference whether the witnesses are men or women.

Some incidents require only female witness and that of a male cannot be accepted. For instance, in dealing with the problems of women, while giving the burial bath i.e. ‘ghusl’ to a woman, the witness has to be a woman.

The seeming inequality of male and female witnesses in financial transactions is not due to any inequality of the sexes in Islam. It is only due to the different natures and roles of men and women in society as envisaged by Islam. It is the responsibility of modern Islamic scholars to make sure that in today's society Muslims understand the both men and women are equal in Islam. 

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