TESTIMONY OF WOMEN
Testimony is a formal statement on a question in the presence of a judge at court. In the Qur'an, with a single exception, everybody may testify before the court. Nevertheless, in controversies about indebtedness the presence of two women are required whose testimonies can be taken as given by one man in the surah 2/282. The ideas behind is woman's liability to adling, oblivion and erring. It should be borne in mind, that, at the time women, with a few exceptions, were illiterate and ignorant of commercial dealings.
In our contemporary soceity women's position has changed and become equal with men's in every respect. The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise. (9/71) The rule laid down, effective in another age, need to be adjusted to the requirements of the present. In this respect the following verse should be considered once more: who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation (42/38).
(See: the present book under Submit your Apples of Discord to God)
GENERAL PRINCIPLE IN TESTIMONY
But it would avert the punishment from the wife, if she bears witness four times (with an oath) By Allah, that (her husband) is telling a lie; (24/8)
And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors;- (24/4)
Thus when they fulfill their term appointed, either take them back on equitable terms or part with them on equitable terms; and take for witness two persons from among you, endued with justice, and establish the evidence (as) before Allah. Such is the admonition given to him who believes in Allah and the Last Day. And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out, (65/)
As one can see from the above, with a single exception, women's testimony is valid. Nevertheless, after the departure of the Prophet from this world, the former customs of Arabs had had the upper hand and overruled the principle laid down in the Qur'an.
WOMEN'S EXCEPTIONAL TESTIMONY
O ye who believe! When ye deal with each other, in transactions involving future obligations in a fixed period of time, reduce them to writing Let a scribe write down faithfully as between the parties: let not the scribe refuse to write: as Allah Has taught him, so let him write. Let him who incurs the liability dictate, but let him fear His Lord Allah, and not diminish aught of what he owes. If they party liable is mentally deficient, or weak, or unable Himself to dictate, Let his guardian dictate faithfully, 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. The witnesses should not refuse when they are called on (For evidence). Disdain not to reduce to writing (your contract) for a future period, whether it be small or big: it is juster in the sight of Allah, More suitable as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves but if it be a transaction which ye carry out on the spot among yourselves, there is no blame on you if ye reduce it not to writing. But take witness whenever ye make a commercial contract; and let neither scribe nor witness suffer harm. If ye do (such harm), it would be wickedness in you. So fear Allah. For it is Good that teaches you. And Allah is well acquainted with all things. If ye are on a journey, and cannot find a scribe, a pledge with possession (may serve the purpose). And if one of you deposits a thing on trust with another, let the trustee (faithfully) discharge his trust, and let him Fear his Lord conceal not evidence; for whoever conceals it, - his heart is tainted with sin. And Allah knoweth all that ye do. (24/8)
This verse introduced an exception as regards the equality between man and woman. At the time of the revelation of the Qur'an women hardly did anything other than performing the household chores and bringing up of her children; illiterate as she was, she knew nothing of commercial dealings which were the responsibility of the husband. This led to the imposition of a rule, according to which, in case a woman got confused about an issue regarding transactions involving future obligations in a fixed period of time, the next witness would bear testimony.
Considering that at present women also started to be employed in commercial life this provision has lost its validity; therefore, the Religious Council to be formed must examine the issue and reach a categorical decision to this effect.
CERTAIN VIEWPOINTS IN EXCEPTIONAL TESTIMONY
In the principle foreseen in 2/282 woman's sex was not implied; the considerations had to do with her illiteracy and the proper education she failed to receive. Under the conditions prevailing today there is no need anymore for the strict application of this rule. Today man and woman are equal in every respect.
(See. Prof.Dr. Yaşar Nuri Öztürk, İslâm Nasıl Yozlaştırıldı. Say: 377)
The former principle regarding the requirement for two witnesses, should women had to bear testimony, has no longer any validity in today's life.
(See, Prof. Dr. Hayrettin Karaman, İslâmda Kadın ve Aile)
The principle foreseen in Surah 2/282 regarding the requirement for two (women) witnesses, if the case necessitated bearing of testimony, was based on the assumption of woman's former illiteracy which also implied her liability to confusion, forgetting and erring. The time was such as not even signing was a habitual formality in transactions.
God clearly and explicitly states that man and woman are protectors of one another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise (9/71)
Today the Turkish Civil Code has laid down the equality between man and woman before the law. New interpretations should be made by Religious Councils formed by fully qualified specialists and scholars. (42/38) The results should be published and distributed among the public. Thus, the prejudice that Islam has relegated woman to back rows will be overcome. (See. The present book Submit your apples of discord to God)