Female Testimony

From WikiAhmadiyya, the free encyclopedia on Islam and Ahmadiyyat

A woman's testimony is equal to that of a man's in Islam, according to the view of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

Other sects assert the testimony of women to be worth only half of that of men, and require two females for every man. The difference in interpretation is based on the following verse of the Quran:

When you borrow one from another for a fixed period, then write it down. And let a scribe write it in your presence faithfully; and no scribe should refuse to write, because Allah has taught him, so let him write and let him who incurs the liability dictate; and he should fear Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything therefrom. But if the person incurring the liability be of low understanding or be weak or be unable himself to dictate, then let someone who can watch his interest dictate with justice. And call two witnesses from among your men; and if two men be not available, then a man and two women, of such as you like as witnesses, so that if either of two women should err in memory, then one may remind the other. 

- Quran 2:283

The fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has explained the verse as follows:

It is very important to remember that these verses have been completely misapplied and used entirely out of context by those medieval minded scholars who insist that according to Islam a single woman’s testimony is not sufficient. They say that for each legal requirement, two women’s testimony is essential in comparison to one man’s wherever one man’s testimony is sufficient. Having totally misconstrued the meaning of these verses, they have falsely envisaged the role of male and female witnesses in Islamic jurisprudence. They think that when the Holy Quran requires one man as a witness, the testimony of two women will be substituted in lieu thereof; where two men’s testimony is required, four women’s testimony will be required; and where four male persons are required as witnesses, eight women will be required to testify the same.

This concept is so unrealistic and alien to Quranic teachings that one is exasperated to see such medievalist stance on this important judicial issue. 

The following points should be noted regarding these verses:

1. The verses do not at all require both women to testify.

2. The role of the second woman is clearly specified and confined to be that of an assistant.

3. If the second woman who is not testifying finds any part of the statement of the witness as indicative of the witness not having fully understood the spirit of the bargain, she may remind her and assist the witness in revising her understanding or refreshing her memory.

4. It is entirely up to that woman who is testifying to agree or disagree with her assistant. Her testimony remains as a single independent testimony and in case she does not agree with her partner, her’s would be the last word.

After this brief digression, let us return to the subject proper. Reducing loan agreements to writing with the debtor dictating the terms in the presence of witnesses for the sale of goods; being absolutely honest and mindful of God in fulfilling one’s undertakings; and trustees discharging the trust honestly form the essential features of contractual obligations in Islam.

Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Islam's Response to Contemporary Issues