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July 25th, 2010

A hadith about women

Submitted by “A”.

(Note: “A” is not an anonymous poster. I know her and have talked to her.)


>>Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

Once Allah’s Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o ‘Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle ?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her religion.”

Volume 2, Book 24, Number 541:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri

On ‘Id ul Fitr or ‘Id ul Adha Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) went out to the Musalla. After finishing the prayer, he delivered the sermon and ordered the people to give alms. He said, “O people! Give alms.” Then he went towards the women and said. “O women! Give alms, for I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-Fire were you (women).” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is the reason for it?” He replied, “O women! You curse frequently, and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. O women, some of you can lead a cautious wise man astray.” Then he left. And when he reached his house, Zainab, the wife of Ibn Masud, came and asked permission to enter It was said, “O Allah’s Apostle! It is Zainab.” He asked, ‘Which Zainab?” The reply was that she was the wife of Ibn Mas’ub. He said, “Yes, allow her to enter.” And she was admitted. Then she said, “O Prophet of Allah! Today you ordered people to give alms and I had an ornament and intended to give it as alms, but Ibn Masud said that he and his children deserved it more than anybody else.” The Prophet replied, “Ibn Masud had spoken the truth. Your husband and your children had more right to it than anybody else.”

>>

it can’t be acceptable that prophet had uttered such words “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?”

There is no such injuction in Quran.

What is jamaat’ stance on it or translation?

17 Responses to “A hadith about women”

  1. July 25th, 2010 at 9:00 pm
    From Zahid Aziz:

    We can’t construct general principles contrary to the teachings of the Quran on the basis of such reports.

    The second version of this report shows that Zainab: (1) possessed property from which she could give in charity, (2) she had the right to decide to whom to give it; she sought the Holy Prophet’s advice regarding her husband’s viewpoint in the matter.

    The Quran says: “And give women their dowries as a free gift. But if they of themselves be pleased to give you a portion thereof, consume it with enjoyment and pleasure. And make not over your property, which Allah has made a (means of) support for you, to the weak of understanding,…” (4:4-5)

    The word in bold show that women have the right to spend their property as they wish lawfully. The next verse says that property must not be handed over to the “weak of understanding”. The clear conclusion is that women are not weak of understanding, otherwise they could not be allowed to spend their property as they determine.


  2. “The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?””

    If we accept that women are less intelligent then man, and value of their testimony is half compared to men, then we have not choice, but to reject/ throw out majority of hadith, as they are narrated by a woman i.e. Hazrat Aysha RA, wife of Rasul Allah SAWS.


  3. “A” quotes above: “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle ?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.”
     
    The above triggers following thoughts:

    1. At least, the above are not words of Quran. Hence the reader is at more liberty to accept, reject, imply, deduce and contextualize the “intelligent” side of these opinions.

    2. a. O women! Give alms – agree. So should men.
    2. b. I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women) – agree for the mere fact that at anytime in history numerically women are more than men. Given the equality of genders that Islam enjoins, then there are equal chances for women (and men) to seek (heaven or) hell. Statistically, then there should be correspondingly more women in life after death and in hell (and heaven). It would be a separate discussion as to where is that Hell (or Heaven), in the here or hereafter or both.
    2.c. You curse frequently – but so do men.
    2.d. and are ungrateful to your husbands – and so are men towards their wives.
    2.e. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you – other than Muhammad addressing a specific woman or a group of women, the question arises as to how does he know? Of what I know about Muhammad, these quotes seem to be more befitting men as the Prophet was more exposed to them in his life then women.
    2.f. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you – see 2.e. above.
    2.g. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you – see 2.e. and vice versa.

    3. If the above are actual quotes from Muhammad, then given his standards of fairness, I am sure that there must be counterbalancing quotations from him about men and husband towards women and wives.

    4. Irrespective of who said what, be it the Prophet or a next door neighbor, it behooves one to gain wisdom irrespective of the source. For that, any quote then has to pass the test of ones own intelligence and experience. If nothing else, at least one can ask this question “Did my mother/sisters curse more frequently or were ungrateful to my father or their husbands?” Muhammad cannot be used as a crutch for point scoring towards women.

    5. Lastly, the level of intelligence within the above quotes is at par with what one experiences in the society. There is not of much significance here. This reminds me of the saying of Saint Augustine:

    If I am given a formula, and I am ignorant of its meaning, it cannot teach me anything, but if I already know it what does the formula teach me?

    – St. Augustine (354-430), De Magistro ch X, 23.

    6. Other than a possible personal opinion of the Prophet above, he was a mere mortal to which Quran testifies with the following verses:

    7:188. Say, `I have no power over (bringing) any gain or (avoiding) any harm to myself save to the extent that Allâh will. And had I known the unseen I would surely have secured a great deal of good (for myself) and no harm would ever have come to me. I am only a Warner (to the wicked) and a Bearer of good tidings (to the people who believe).

               
    46:9. Say, `I am no novel (Apostle) among the Messengers nor do I know what will be done to me (on your behalf) or to you. I simply follow what is revealed to me and I am nought but a plain Warner.’

    In light of these verses, I doubt if Muhammad is the source of the quotes in reference.

    ——

    With regards to two women witnesses:

    2:282. O you who believe! when you transact a loan for a stipulated term, then write it down. Let a scribe write (it) in your presence in (term of) equity and fairness. The scribe shall not refuse to write down, since it is Allâh Who taught him (to write). Write he must. And let him upon whom be the liability, dictate and let him observe his duty to Allâh, his Lord, nor should he depreciate anything (what he owes) from it. But if the person upon whom the liability is, be of feeble mind or is infirm or he is incapable of dictating himself, then let some one who can watch his interests dictate in (term of) equity and fairness. And call in to witness (the transaction) two male witnesses from amongst your men. But if there be not two males (available) then let there be one male and two females such as you approve as witnesses (to bear witness), so that if either of the two women forgets then one may remind the other. And let the witnesses not refuse (to give evidence) whenever they are summoned. And never feel weary of writing it (- the transaction) down, whether it (- the debt) be small or large, along with the time of its (payment) being due. This (way) is more just in the sight of Allâh, and ensures a more upright evidence and is more likely to prevent your falling into doubts, (so write it down) except you carry ready trade and transfer the merchandise from hand to hand, in that case there shall be no blame on you that you do not write (the transaction). Yet have witnesses when you trade with one another. Let neither the scribe nor the witness be harmed, and if you do (any such thing) then that indeed, is disobedience on your part. Take Allâh as a shield (with the result that) Allâh will grant you knowledge, for Allâh has perfect knowledge of everything.

    Firstly, nowhere in Quran is it stated that testimony of a woman is half of that a man.

    Secondly, this stipulation is only for “contracts” and is not for the common understanding of a witness to an event in daily life e.g. witness to a crime.

    Thirdly, in big scheme of things, it is clearly an easement for a woman and her burden is shared by a peer if needed for a testimony, especially in cases of loan, which can spark enormous social pressures on a witness. Bigger is the loan, bigger the duress on the witness. The second woman witness is not a witness but an aide to the witness in case the witness forgets and needs to refresh her memory. Conversely, it can be implied that if the woman witness does not need to refresh her recollection, then the aide is not needed.

    Fourthly, “The Holy Qur’ån does not say that no case should be decided except on the testimony of two witnesses, but requires ordinarily the calling of two witnesses at the time of the transaction, so that the deficiency of one may be rectified by the other. Cases may be decided on circumstantial evidence as well, which is sometimes stronger than the evidence of witnesses. The Holy Qur’ån itself speaks of Joseph’s innocence being established on circumstantial evidence (12:26, 27).” – Explanatory note of Muhammad Ali in his English translation of the Holy Quran.

    [The Holy Quran – Nooruddin]


  4. July 26th, 2010 at 12:42 pm
    From Zahid Aziz:

    This report has such basic contradictions with Islamic principles, as well as plain reason, that I think most of these words must be those of an intermediate reporter which mistakenly got ascribed to the Holy Prophet.

    Being deficient in intelligence cannot be a reason for a person being in hell. A natural, in-born, lack of intellect diminishes a person’s responsibility and accountability before God (and before human beings), not make her or him subject to punishment.

    To be sent to hell, you need the intelligence to plan and carry out acts of evil. On that basis, only the intelligent, and not any of the mentally deficient, will be in hell!

    As to deficiency in religion due to not praying and fasting during menstruation: (1) the menstrual cycle is natural and God-made, and is not a female’s fault, (2) the relaxation from prayer and fasting during menstruation is again from God. So how can a woman be punished for the consequences? Also, of course, women do stop menstruating at a certain age and might have 20 or 30 years afterwards to pray and fast as much as men.


  5. >>Once Allah’s Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o ‘Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. <<

    The narrator seems a bit unsure. That does somewhat call into question the rest of his narrative.


  6. Ikram, would you consider the two woman rule for contracts now abrogated like martial jihad in this modern age?


  7. July 27th, 2010 at 5:22 am
    From Zahid Aziz:

    That verse (2:282) begins as follows:

    “O you who believe, when you contract a debt for a fixed time, write it down. And let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; nor should the scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so let him write.”

    The next verse begins: “And if you are on a journey and you cannot find a scribe, a security may be taken into possession.”

    In a society with a high rate of literacy, in which both the lender and the borrower are very likely to be able to read and write, should they be required to find a scribe and dictate to him?


  8. Usually interpreters neglect the basics and complicate the issue. I do not know if it is the best translation of the hadith but if we can still try to understand it. We have to bear in mind that we can’t be compared with an audience which was educated by prophet and had the required knowledge to understand his words. We have to be clear of certain concepts and use of vocabulary (meanings of giving alms, religion, zawj etc) before interpreting them in other languages.

    >> Then he passed by the women and said, “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. >>

    General understanding of these words which is prevalent that majority of women will be in hell or prophet might have encouraged giving of alms for fear of ending in hell is wrong.

    One is asked to be charitable for the love of Allah only. Quran encourages doing of good for the sake of nourishing and development of his own faculties (Taking of Allah’s colour). Once that understanding is attained then making a choice between what is beneficial for self (source of food for soul) and harmful for self (misuse of abilities which leads to grieving and fear) is easy.

    Hell is conceived by many a place of torture but it is a condition which one suffers for loss of his spiritual health. It is conditional and curable if one changes his course.

    I read that >>In another prophecy, after referring to chastisement it is stated at the end:
    Why should Allah chastise you if you are grateful and believe? (The Holy Quran, 4:147).
    That is, what purpose will it serve God to chastise you if you become grateful and believing? In this prophecy it is meant to convey that the chastisement to come will be averted by gratefulness and faith.>> Does God hear man’s prayers? By Mirza Ghulam Ahamd.>>

    “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).”

    These words can be reconciled with his 2nd argument only if we interpret them as – O women (women also stands for weak conscience\carnal soul) – Give Alms (nourish your faculties and use them properly for your and others’ welfare) – as I have seen that majority of hell-fire (lack or misuse of faculties) were you (women) (those under influence of carnal soul).

    If hell fire is not avertable or he for sure knew that majority of women will end in hell fire he would not need to mention the remedy i.e. Give alms.

    Literal meanings can’t be reconciled with >> they asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. >> because prophet has already stated the reason why majority of women are in hell – it is because they do not give alms. There was no need for his audience to further inquire “They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle?”

    It seems that charity of money is not in question but charity of one’s abilities\character is in question.
    His reply was – You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you

    This is not general address to all women. It is an address to particular women who are guilty of that behaviour. He would not address them like that if he was not aware of their practice personally. It is not likely that he was assuming all women (nature varies) have such personality traits. He was specifically speaking of married women.

    One characteristic of prophet which is spoken in Quran is – that if your manners were rough they would not have gathered around u (paraphrasing).

    He may be pointing out to them that these two things cursing and ungratefulness can cause ill feeling and destroy family life. If one can’t see what one’s choices can lead to then that person is definitely deficient in intelligence (which helps one to see the consequences) and religion (which makes one morally and socially better person).

    If we take cursing and ungratefulness of carnal soul (one characteristic of devil is hopelessness) to Divine soul, which is breathed in us all – then it is easy to interpret these words – rebellion of carnal soul against divine soul makes one deficient in intelligence and religion. (Such ppl are called worse than animals in Quran).

    >>A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.”>>

    According to Quran’s law no one is responsible for others’ actions.

    If he meant that discord between couples can affect one emotionally then it is acceptable.

    It is also acceptable that carnal soul can led some of us astray.

    >>The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative.>>

    I do not understand this argument – it is already mentioned by him that “cursing and being ungrateful to husbands” makes him think that they r deficient in intelligence and religion – why would they need further explanation? Like he already told them that through his prophetic vision he saw that majority of women in hell and they could escape by giving alms – why women need to ask him again “why is it so”.

    This is not an intelligent dialogue.


  9. The Position of Official Witness
    Ibn Khaldun

    This is a religious position depending on the office of judge and connected with court practice. The men who hold it give testimony – with judge’s permission – for or against people’s (claims). They serve as witness when testimony is to be taken, testify during a lawsuit, and fill in the registers which record the rights, possessions, and debts of people and other legal transactions.

    We have mentioned ‘the judge’s permission’ because people may have become confused, and then only the judge knows who is reliable and who is not. Thus, in a way, he gives permission to those of whose probity he is sure, so that people’s affairs and transactions will be properly safeguarded.

    The prerequisite governing this position is the incumbent’s possession of the quality of probity according to the religious la, his freedom from unreliability. Furthermore, he must be able to fill in the (court) records and make out contracts in the right form and proper order and correctly, (observing) the conditions and stipulations governing them from the point of view of the religious law. Thus, he must have such knowledge of jurisprudence as is necessary for the purpose. Because of these conditions and the experience and practice required, (the office) came to be restricted to persons of probity. Probity came to be (considered) the particular quality of person who exercise this function. But this is not so. Probity is one of the prerequisite qualifying them for office.

    The judge must examine their conditions and look into their ways of life, to make sure that they fulfill the condition of probity. He must not neglect to do so, because it is his duty to safeguard the rights of the people. The responsibility for everything rests with him, and he is accountable for the outcome.

    Once (official witnesses) have been shown clearly to be qualified for the position, they become more generally useful (to the judges). (They can be used) to find out about the reliability of other men whose probity is not known to the judges, because of the large size of cities and their confused conditions. In assessing the reliability of (the evidence), they usually count upon these professional witnesses. In every city, they have their own shops and benches where they always sit, so that people who have transactions to make can engage them to function as witnesses and register the (testimony) in writing.

    The term ‘probity’ (‘adalah) thus came to be used both for the position whose significance has just been explained and for ‘probity (reliability)’ as required by the religious law, which is used paired with ‘unreliability’. The two are the same, but still, they are different.

    The Muqaddimah – page 177-178

    (i read and typed few chpaters of Muqaddimah)


  10. i had learnt from a poem of Rumi

    >>The Prophet said, “Take not counsel from a woman”; this carnal soul of ours is a woman, even though it be an abstinent.>>

    Though from left and right there is useless criticism and vilification, that man who has lost his heart truns not away from Love.

    The moon scatters light, and the dog barks at it; what harm does that do to the moon? Such is a dog’s speciality.

    The lover is a mountain, not a straw to be blown away by the wind; it is a flock of flies that the wind has waylaid.

    If it is the rule that blame should arise from Love, it is also the rule of Love to be deaf to it.

    Desolation of both worlds on this road is true cultivation; to eschew all benefits is a benefit in Love.

    Jesus from the fouth sphere calls, “Welcome! Wash your hands and mouth, for now is the time for the Table.”

    Go, become effaced in the Friend in the tavern of not-being; wherever two drunkards are together, there is bound to be a brawl.

    You enter the devil’s court crying, “Justice, justice!” Seek justice from God, for there is nothing but wild beasts.

    The Prophet said, “Take not counsel from a woman”; this carnal soul of ours is a woman, even though it be an abstinent.

    Drink so much wine that you cease to chatter; after all, are you not a lover? And is not this love a tavern?

    Though you should utter verse and prose like Jafari gold, there where Ja’far is it is all worthless tales.

    ~ Rumi


  11. I shared my understanding of 2:282 with uncle zahid

    2:282 O you who believe, when you contract a debt for a fixed time, write it down. And let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; nor should the scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so let him write. And let him who owes the debt dictate, and he should observe his duty to Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it. But if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness. And call to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the one may remind the other. And the witnesses must not refuse when they are summoned. And be not averse to writing it whether it is small or large along with the time of its falling due. This is more equitable in the sight of Allah and makes testimony surer and the best way to keep away from doubts.

    The point which pessimists are tend to suggest that taking of (two women and one man) witnesses could mean “valuing their word as half of that of men” but they find it hard to discern that it could also mean Quran ensured double participation of women as compared to male participation in legal and social affairs of the society.

    The case stated in above verse is about having a witness or witnesses when a guardian is sealing the legal contract at behalf of a person who is unsound in understanding or weak. The point which is overlooked here is a witness or witnesses are only asked to bear witness of a deal to ensure that guardian dictates the terms with fairness. Their role is more like of the legal advisors. This is not the case where witnesses are called upon to testify against someone or their testimonies are collected about some incident. In this scenario some may take liberty to suggest that calling of two female witnesses vs. a male witness results in giving less credibility to a woman’s testimony. This DEfINITELY not the case in the verse under discussion. Since at this point witnesses are not required to give their testimonies thus “valuing of one’s word as half of that of men” is out of the question.

    In addition to this it should be noted that guardian and scribe could be a male or female, no specific gender is mentioned. For instance it isn’t advised that if one can’t choose a guardian and a scribe from among men then one man and two women guardians should be taken. If Allah has really meant to establish any such law then a distinction should be made in selection of the guardian and the scribe too which we supposedly observe in the case of witnesses later. A guardian’s position, who has taken the responsibility to pay the debt, is as sensitive as, if not more than, the position of a witness whose job is to make sure no injustice is done to the person who is unsound in understanding or weak. This is enough to shut those up who suggest that Quran “values women’s word as half of that of men.”

    It is necessary to comment on the significance of Arabic term “shahid or shuhda” which is translated as “witness or witnesses”.

    Shahid – meaning one who gives information of what he has witnessed, or one who knows and declares what he knows, or one possessing much knowledge (Arabic English Lexicon by Edward William Lane) – Shahid also means an imam or a leader.

    The bearers of witness are the persons who carry knowledge to others, bearing testimony to its truth in their own person.

    The understanding of Arabic term clearly negates the remotest possibility that any tom, dick and harry could be called in to witness the contract. Those who are called in are those who possess much knowledge of their profession or duty. In above verse this Arabic term should be used with the context of verse. Context of the verse supports that those who are called in should be considered the legal advisors because they are required to bear witness to the truth of their knowledge regarding their profession in their own person.

    As far as the question of one’s forgetfulness is concerned it should be noted that this is a written legal document. Witnesses\legal advisors are only required to scrutinize that the guardian has done his or her job with fairness. They will attest the contract and it is now in official record. If any of the terms and conditions isn’t met (with the time of its falling due) then one can acquire the copy of the contract from the official record for further proceedings. The legal advisors or witnesses in whose presence the contract was sealed may be called upon to clarify their attestation of the document, if required. (And the witnesses must not refuse when they are summoned). One may ask if the whole process is dependent on one’s memory then what is the use of this official record keeping and what is the status of this legal document? It doesn’t make any sense that in the presence of legal document (the best way to keep away from doubts) anyone would need to depend on the memory of witnesses or legal advisors etc at any point.

    Witnesses or the legal advisors don’t need to memorize the contract’s clauses either because professional witnesses or legal advisors are required to keep the record. For the sake of argument if any one of them has the slightest doubt that he\she could forget about what they have borne witness to – they have the option to keep a copy of it as a reminder for future use easily. Hence weak memory of both genders is also not in question in the questioned verse. However it doesn’t make any sense at all that those, who are witnessing the contract at behalf of the one who is unsound in understanding or weak, are also unsound in understanding or weak too.

    On this footing we can attempt to interpret the words of verse which are taken out of context by the so-called critics of Islam. We can’t overlook the subject of the verse i.e. to ensure that guardian would dictate the terms in presences of a witness or witnesses with fairness.

    … And call to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, …

    It is to be noted that the choice is given to us. We are only instructed that take convenience of witnesses in
    consideration. This relaxation in choice is also in favour of the witnesses because “And the witnesses must not refuse when they are summoned.” This responsibility would bind them, to a certain period of time agreed upon in the contract, to make sure that all clauses of the contract are met on time of their falling due. In this scenario one can’t ignore the specific needs of a woman and hence the distinction should be made to give her relief. One can’t ignore the fact that Quran has not ignored the needs and rights of any member of the society. The selection of the words is so precise that no matter how hard we try we can’t find any flaw in them.

    4:6 And test the orphans until they reach the age of marriage. Then if you find in them maturity of intellect, make over to them their property, and consume it not extravagantly and hastily against their growing up. And whoever is rich, let him abstain, and whoever is poor let him consume reasonably. And when you make over to them their property, call witnesses in their presence. And Allah is enough as a Reckoner.

    >>And when you make over to them their property, call witnesses in their presence. And Allah is enough as a Reckoner

    it would be convenient if witnesses’ (especially women)comfort is taken into consideration if their duties can prolong for a long time of period.

    I think new subject starts from here – i do not knwo arabic thats why i have to depend on the translation alone.

    So that if one of the two errs, the one may remind the other

    According to Maulana Muhammd Ali – The personal pronoun huma may refer either to the testimony of the two witnesses or the two women. Reminding here stands for making up the deficiency of the other’s memory.

    After the critical analysis of the verse we can assume that these words “one of the two errs” may refer to two witnesses not to the two women because it is not clear that “one may remind the other or make up the deficiency of the other’s memory” either refers to one woman’s reminding of the other woman or a man’s reminding of the woman or a woman’s reminding of the man or a man’s reminding of the other man.

    Quran has advised us to make our decisions after consultation and due deliberation. The advise to take a team of two male legal advisors if not two males then team of one male and two female legal advisors further strengthen the fact that if one of them is deficient in his or her knowledge of his or her profession then his or her colleagues would help him or her to make up that deficiency to reach the just decision.

    In no way one can use these words to conclude that Quran “values women’s word as half of that of men” because it contradicts the words of Quran which may refer to a woman’s making up the deficiency of the her male co-witness’ memory.

    The other likely assumption for if one of the two errs could be that these words refer to two parties who witnessed the contract i.e. the guardian who dictated the terms and took legal responsibility at the behalf of one who owes the debt – witnesses who ensured that the guardian has dictated the terms fairly and it is their legal responsibility to make sure that the guardian would pay the debt on the time of its falling due. Now the one who has attested this deal has to make sure that the guardian would honour the terms and conditions of the contract. He would remind the guardian of his duty if he finds him forgetful about his commitment or if he errs.

    English term ‘witness’ can’t be a substitute of arabic term. eg You may be the bearers of witness to the people and (that) the Messenger may be a bearer of witness to you

    it is clear that duty of prophet is not only to deliver the message but to stand as authority (witness) that people do not misinterpret religion.

    It is more likely that “so that if one of the two errs, the one may remind the other” the two witnesses are the guardian (who has to implement terms by bearing witness to them) and the one who has to make sure that guardian dictates the terms fairly and implement them.

    it is required that there is a check on guardian and should be reminded if s\he errs.

    reminding could mean – There is a verse which speaks of quality of believers and of their qualities is that they enjoin good.

    One stands in need of reminding because of different state of minds as result of one’s circumstances, men and women alike. 5 times prayer is a reminder too that one should not forget the purpose i.e to serve Allah.

    witnesses and guardian need a check on them – Judge can appoint witnesses who r known for their credibility and witnesses can keep guardin away from erring.

    All possible care is taken to save the rights of those who are unsound in understanding or weak – it is just outrageous to consider this verse as basis to claim Quran gives less credit to a woman’s command over her profession or her bearing witness to a financial contract (bearing witness to prophet’s legacy is greater than this)

    >>
    those who have experience of such matters can have better understanding of court procedures.

    ppl who assert such nonsence have no understanding of faith of islam – if women and men can practice the same faith and enjoy its fruits then it is impossible that she is in anyway less than man (morally). if she is then there should be different religion for her.


  12. @ T. Ijaz: “would you consider the two woman rule for contracts now abrogated like martial jihad in this modern age?”

    With development of human society, some of the objectives of Quran are coming to their natural fruition e.g. gender equality, elimination of slavery, martial jihad etc. It would be a misnomer to attribute “abrogation” to such verses because abrogation has different connotation to it.


  13. July 28th, 2010 at 12:04 pm
    From Zahid Aziz:

    In a modern setting, in place of a scribe there would be a legal form with blanks to be filled in for names, amount, date etc., which would then be registered. Or the role of scribe could be played by an attorney, whose knowledge of such contracts and documents is superior to that of the two parties (just as the knowledge of a literate scribe is superior to that of two parties who are illiterate).

    By male witnesses is meant persons with full knowledge, and by female witnesses is meant persons with lesser knowledge.

    If taken literally, it would mean that at least one man is always required as a witness (since you need either two men or one man and two women). Therefore, if only women were available as witnesses it would not be acceptable, even if there were ten or twenty of them!

    Even when the Quran was being revealed, there were women like Hazrat Khadijah whose evidence in financial matters surely can’t be less than that of any man, considering the business that she owned.


  14. Just to lighten things up; I would like to narrate (based on an actual incident) the following pearl of wisdom given by a known political maulvi while responding to a  Pakistani Women’s Rights activist who was using secular logic to argue that a woman’s testimony is equal to a man’s in a court of law.  The Maulvi sahib also resorted to secular logic and replied that in Islam the reason why a woman’s testimony is half that of a man is because men are more intelligent, and this fact is proven because men……..have bigger heads!!!!


  15. If a woman (You may be the bearers of witness to the people and (that) the Messenger may be a bearer of witness to you) can bear witness to the legacy of prophet than it is far greater than witness a financial transaction.

    From among those (your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women) whom you choose to be witnesses.

    The choice to appoint witnesses is given to whom?

    I do not think it is given to guardian because if s\he has an ill intention then they can take witnesses of their choice.

    Scribe and witnesses should be those who work for the judge or Islamic courts.

    Judge should appoint witnesses. The written document will then have some legal position in an Islamic society and each party (guardian and the minor) can claim its rights by using it in future.

    Judge has to decide on “availability” of witnesses alone. S\he needs two witnesses either two men or one man and two women.

    That could mean

    1. Two options (either two men or one and two women) are mentioned. It is not stated further that in a condition in which no man is available then would two women suffice as witnesses? Or one man’s availability as witness is a must.

    2. That begs this question – Is the one, who has to choose witnesses, is at liberty to use another option in above state a scenario? Or s\he should wait until one man is available?

    3. What in that scenario if only a male and female are available – then should judge delay the contract until another male and female could be found – so the condition is fulfilled?

    4. I do not think Allah would have wanted it to make it difficult for the judge. We can sort this out if we assume that at least two witnesses or not more than 3 witnesses are required regardless of their genders.

    5. In sets when we make pairs of two sets we do this – Set A – [male1, male2] Set B [male1, female1, female2] – the combination of pairs could be if we have to take at least two in a set and not more than three in a set – combination of two pairs will be [male1 of set A and male1 of set B] (two males), [male1 of set A, Female1 of set B] (one male and one female), [male1 of set A and Female2 of set B] (one male and one female), [male2 of set A and male1 of set B] (two males), [male2 of set A, Female1 of set B] (one male and one female), [male2 of set A and Female2 of set B] (one male and one female) – combination of three pairs will be [male1 of set A, male1 and female1 of set B] (two males and one female), [male1 of set A, Female1 and female2 of set B] (one male and two females), [male1 of set A, male1 and Female2 of set B] (two males and one female) etc

    The options will only be

    Two males
    Two females
    One male and one female
    Two males and one female
    One male and two females

    It will then be workable in each scenario. Since choice is with the judge to choose then he can use any option which suits his needs (atleast two witnesses and not more than 3).

    God knows better.


  16. I think i am wrong in my conclusion

    >>The options will only be

    Two males
    Two females
    One male and one female
    Two males and one female
    One male and two females>>

    because the set of 3 won’t be needed if the two witnesses option is met.


  17. but i think the options can only be workable if the flexibility of choice is given to judge and s\he can choose between minimum availibility of witnesses i.e atleast two and maximum availibility of witnesses i.e three. Judge can deal with any scenario. it can’t work if we bound ourselves with just two options mentioned in verse.

    >> But if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness.

    do children have to pay their parents’ debt? (if verse is refering to a minor)

    if debt can consume the share of children in inheritance then can guardians make a contract on behalf of minors that by managing their assets they can’t only pay the debt but fulfill their obligations (education, health care) as well?

    majority of US citizens have debts and there are firms which handle their affairs so they can pay it. does verse refer tp such ppl, who because of their weak understanding, take burdens?


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