Why are two women witnesses equivalent to only one man?
This question is asked my by many people even by Muslims who don’t have sufficient knowledge about their religion as they consider it as injustice and inequality in Islam concerning woman.
It is not true that two female witnesses are always considered as equal to only one male witness. It is true only certain cases like financial transaction. However, Islam accepts a woman’s testimony as equal to that of a man. In fact, the woman’s testimony can even invalidate the man’s.
The woman’s testimony can even invalidate the man’s. If a man accuses his wife of unchastity, he is required by Quran to swear five times as evidence of the wife is guilt. If the wife denies and swears similarly five times, she is not considered guilty and in either case the marriage is dissolved. God, Almighty, said: “And for those who launch a charge against their spouses, and have (in support) no evidence but their own, their solitary evidence (can be received) if they bear witness four times (with an oath) by God that they are solemnly telling the truth; and the fifth (oath) (should be) that they solemnly invoke the curse of God on themselves if they tell a lie. But it would avert the punishment from the wife, if she bears witness four times (with an oath) By God, that (her husband) is telling a lie; and the fifth (oath) should be that she solemnly invokes the wrath of God on herself if (her accuser) is telling the truth.”(chapter 24: verse 6- 9)
In other cases, women’s testimony is more valid than men. In case of breastfeeding, she is the only one and the more valid to claim that this person is your brother or sister foster. The woman maid is the only who may claim that this boy is the son of certain lady or not. Another example from Prophet Mohammed’s era is the solitary witness of Lady Aisha, prophet’s wife, is a reliable source for many men and women to take Hadiths, the saying of the prophet, as an authentic one. Lady Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) has narrated no less than 2220 Hadiths (the saying of the prophet) which are considered authentic only on her solitary evidence. This is sufficient proof that one witness of a woman can also be accepted.
But why does two female equal one male in financial transaction? Are women inferior to men? Do women have weaker memories than men?
In this scientific age, we explore the significance of this legislation. Actually, this injunction is in perfect harmony with the nature and psychology of the woman as seen in psychologists, psychiatrists, and medical research.
As women, we are aware of the cyclical psychological strains that a woman has to encounter every month. The symptoms during early pregnancy, ante- natal, post- natal, depression, the phenomenon of menopause, the physiological and psychological problems due to infertility and the problems faced after miscarriage.
It is under these situations that women can experience extraordinary psychological strains giving rise to depression, lack of concentration, slow- mindedness and short term memory loss. Psychiatry in practice, April 1983 issue states: “Forty percent of women suffer from pre- menstrual syndrome…..”
- The length review portrays how female behavior is affected in these situations. In the pre- menstrual syndrome: C. Shreeves writes: “Reduced powers of concentration and memory are familiar aspects of the pre- menstrual syndrome…..”
This doesn’t mean, of course, that women are mentally deficient absolutely. “Reduced powers of concentration and memory are familiar aspects of the pre- menstrual syndrome and can only be remedied by treating the underlying complaint.” This does not mean, of course, that women are mentally deficient absolutely. It just means that their mental faculties can become affected at certain times in the biological cycle. Shreeves also writes: “As many as 80 percent of women are aware of some degree of pre-menstrual changes, 40 percent are substantially disturbed by them, and between 10 and 20 percent are seriously disabled as a result of the syndrome.”
We read in Psychological Medicine: “Many studies have reported an increased likelihood of various negative affects during the pre-menstrual period. In this affective category are many emotional designations including irritability, depression, tension, anxiety, sadness, insecurity, lethargy, loneliness, tearfulness, fatigue, restlessness and changes of mood. In the majority of studies, investigators have found it difficult to distinguish between various negative affects, and only a few have allowed themselves to be excessively concerned with the differences which might or might not exist between affective symptoms.” Psychological Medicine, Monograph Supplement 4, 1983, Cambridge University Press, p.6.
- Post- natal depression
There are considerable sleep difficulties. The mothers lose interest in the things they enjoyed prior to the baby’s birth, and find that their concentration is impaired. They often feel irrational guilt, and blame themselves for being ‘bad’ wives and mothers. Fifty percent of these women are not identified as having a depressive illness. Unfortunately, many of them do not understand what ails them and blame their husbands, their babies or themselves until the relationships are strained to an alarming degree.” Psychiatry in Practice, May, 1987, p.18
This phase in a woman’s life can start at any time from the mid-thirties to the mid-fifties and can last for as long as 15 years. In this phase, many women pass with many various psychological changes that may affect their mental capabilities.
It is in light of the above findings of psychologist, psychiatrists and researchers, we find the significance of this ruling as God who is the creator of men and women and He is the All-Knowing of their physical, mental, and physiological differences.