Chibuzo Ohanaja

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Dr. Shabbir
Posts: 1950
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 12:46 pm

Chibuzo Ohanaja

Post by Dr. Shabbir »

Salamun Alaikum Dr. Shabbir,

I know you are probably occupied with present concerns of current events in Pakistan and probably are very busy many other things. But whenever you have time I would like to hear your feedback on a question of a particular topic that I encountered in your forum.

I was going through your forum and came across a discussion about the issue of ayah 2:282. Everyone seemed to give their opinion about the 2 women and 1 man issue of testimony. You yourself stated that the reason was that the woman may be distracted by her baby, and others like Arnold stated that it was due to the female physiology. In my opinion, although these reasons may be valid I do not think that they can be used as a primary reason for the call for 2 women. If one looks at all other verses, the verses that call for a women to give testimony calls for only one. If we take the reason that were stated above to apply to 2:282 for a second women then it would have applied to the other verses pertaining to women giving testimony. So from this reasoning we can already rule out that the main factor is not due to physiological, or possibility of having a child present or even the ridiculous reason given by mullahs that women are mentally deficient. The mullahs have taken this verse and applied it to several other areas of law to come up with the devastating ruling that 2 women’s testimony is always equal to 1 man. This is mainly due to ignorance, lack of reason, blind following of the man-made Shariah and neglecting of Qur’an verses that state the contrary. Again, if one looks at the context using tasreef of the Qur’an as well the verse itself we can come understand a simple logical reason for the call for 2 women instead and the implications of this verse in a modern Qur’anic society.

2:282- O You who have chosen to be graced with belief! When you transact a loan for any period, you shall write it down. An impartial scribe shall do the writing. No scribe shall decline to perform this duty, and write as God has taught him. The debtor, or in case he or she is incompetent, his representative shall dictate the document honestly and be mindful of his Lord, and diminish not the amount. There shall be two witnesses to the transaction from among your men. If two men are not available, then let there be one man and two women, all of them you satisfactorily consider competent as witnesses so that even if the witnessing woman gets Tudhil the accompanying woman may support and remind her. All witnesses should be such that their testimony is acceptable to all. It is the obligation of the witnesses to testify when called upon to do so. Do not tire of writing the details, no matter how long, including the time of repayment. This is equitable in the Sight of God, assures better witnessing, and eliminates any doubts you may have. When it is actual merchandise that you transfer among yourselves from hand to hand, there is nothing wrong for you if you write it not, but have it witnessed. The scribe and the witnesses must be held harmless for their services. If you harm them, it would be wickedness on your part. If you follow God’s Commands He will increase you in knowledge. These are the Injunctions of God Who is the Knower of all things; intentions, events and actions.

1. The verse states that 2 men must be called on for.
2. If 2 men are not available then 1 man and 2 women must be called for witness but only 1man and 1 women will speak at the testimony.
3. In court there is a minimum of 2 people to speak at testimony and maximum of 3 for it to be deemed acceptable. In this particular situation, either 2 men speak or 1 men and 1 women speak, other women silent, or 1 man and 2 women speak

The word used in 2:282 which has caused a misunderstanding of the witnessing requirement is 'Tudhil' which has been translated as forgets.

I believe Arnold Yasin is correct in stating in stating that the word for 'forgets' in Arabic is 'Tansa/Nasi'...Thus we can rule out this possibility from the start.
Tudhil = Becomes Misguided / Lost / Shaded

Now we must ask ourselves what makes this verse different from others regarding testimony of men and women if we have already deduced that since no other verse speaking about testimony calls for 2 women then it is not due to any physiological or mental difference. The difference would have to be due to the relation between men and women in the topic of discussion in this verse.

This verse speaks about business/financial transactions. In a Qur’anic society all competent men perform financial transactions such as loans and trades in their daily lives since the Qur’an appoints men as the providers for women in the society. Furthermore, women who choose to work will also be familiar with transactions. As a result competent women who choose to work and competent men will be automatically familiar with the workings of transactions.
We know that women are more than capable of being knowledgeable in the skills of transactions. Additionally we know that this verse is not based on the abilities of women during the times of the Exalted Prophet especially if we look at the example Prophet’s first wife Khadijah who was intelligent, owned a trading company and was very successful.

“Do not tire of writing the details, no matter how long, including the time of repayment. This is equitable in the Sight of God, assures better witnessing, and eliminates any doubts you may have.”(2:282)

This verse also indicates that details of the transaction must be witnessed and kept accountable to assure the best testimony. This will be simple to do for a male or female who is familiar with the details of business transactions through their work. But for a person who does not work or deal with these transactions this may require some help.

In a Qur’anic society, there will be a good amount of women more than men who do not work because of the financial provisions provided for them and hence unlike the men who work and women choose to work, they will be unfamiliar with these details, parts and vocabulary of transactions. The Qur’an takes this fact and ratio of working men and women into account and it plays a role in this verse.

“If two men are not available, let there be one man and two women as witnesses. All witnesses should be such that their testimony is acceptable to all.”(2:282)

This is a major point where I feel like most people overlook. The verse is calling on people to come for witnessing based on availability. They are being picked by chance depending on whoever is around the area of operation at the time of the transaction; hence the verse takes the different possibilities of women and men in the society who would be called upon. The verse states all witnesses should be competent/ acceptable to all people. So what are the possibilities of women that could be called upon by chance to make the verse call for two women?

1. A women who works and thus is familiar with transactions and is certainly able to make an acceptable testimony by herself in court.
2. A women who doesn’t’ work but is possibly able to make an acceptable testimony by herself in court.
3. A women who doesn’t work and is unfamiliar with finances and possibly becomes
Tudhil by detalis or terms during time of witnessing or testimony in court and not be able to complete the testimony by herself and will need help.

Thus, it is because of possibility 3 that calls for the second women to be there at testimony. Even if two women of type 3 are called upon by chance they can support each other in testimony. All other scenarios that contain a woman of type 1 or 2 will only require one of the women to speak while the other one will remain silent in court as a confirmation that she gave testimony under this particular circumstance of availability.

Again the main point of this verse that is overlooked is that it is calling on people for witness based on availability of people around the area of operation, hence it is by chance. The Qur’an is taking account of the possible scenarios that could be encountered. In a modern Qur’anic society this verse can still be applied if the loan/business transaction takes place in a rural setting, a setting such as a marketplace or any other setting where the people who are making transactions call on witnesses based upon availability of the people around the area they operate in.

This verse need not be used for a business corporation or a formal loan institution which operate their transactions in private settings. These outlets could form a proper relation with the local court systems. If you look at today certain big companies, government organizations or individuals who want to do loans or major business transactions assign a date in which they want to do the transaction which could also be done in a modern Qur’anic society. Two testimonies could still be used however; in conjunction with this action they can construct rules of eligibility for acceptable witnesses, such as being a working man or women of a company. Additionally, courts can contact people based on these rules of eligibility when informed ahead of time and tell the individuals to come to witness the transaction as well inform them of the date of their courtroom testimony similar to the way in which the U.S. government contacts eligible individuals to serve on jury duty for particular court cases.

This is how I view this situation. I feel that many things in the Qur’an can usually find an explanation through the context of the Qur’an itself since as you often state so correctly the Qur’an explains itself. If you disagree or feel like I have made a mistake please feel free to critique. I will be happy learn from your perspective as knowledgeable scholar. Also feel free to post this on your forum to give others a chance to discuss this topic.

Chibuzo Casey Ohanaja
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