Are Men More Equal?
Why Non-Muslims are not allowed in Makkah?
Is Qur'an the Word of God?
Question: Why are two witnesses who are women, equivalent to only one witness who is a man?
Answer: It is not true that two female witnesses are always considered as equal to only one male witness. It is true only in certain cases. There are about five verses in the Qur’an that mention witnesses, without specifying male or female. There is only one verse in the Qur’an, that says two female witnesses are equal to one male witness. This verse is Surah Baqarah, chapter 2 verse 282. This is the longest verse in the Qur’an and deals with financial transactions. It says: “Oh! Ye who believe! When ye deal with each other, in transactions involving future obligation in a fixed period of time reduce them to writing 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.” [Al-Qur’an 2:282]
This verse of the Qur’an deals only with financial transactions. In such cases, it is advised to make an agreement in writing between the parties and take two witnesses, preferably both of which should be men only. In case you cannot find two men, then one man and two women would suffice. For instance, suppose a person wants to undergo an operation for a particular ailment. To confirm the treatment, he would prefer taking references from two qualified surgeons. In case he is unable to find two surgeons, his second option would be one surgeon and two general practitioners who are plain MBBS doctors.
Similarly in financial transactions, two men are preferred. Islam expects men to be the breadwinners of their families. Since financial responsibility is shouldered by men, they are expected to be well versed in financial transactions as compared to women. As a second option, the witness can be one man and two women, so that if one of the women errs the other can remind her. The Arabic word used in the Qur’an is ‘Tazil’ which means ‘confused’ or ‘to err’. Many have wrongly translated this word as ‘to forget’. Thus financial transactions constitute the only case in which two female witnesses are equal to one male witness.
However, some scholars are of the opinion that the feminine attitude can also have an effect on the witness in a murder case. In such circumstances a woman is more terrified as compared to a man. Due to her emotional condition she can get confused. Therefore, according to some jurists, even in cases of murder, two female witnesses are equivalent to one male witness. In all other cases, one female witness is equivalent to one male witness. There are about five verses in the Qur’an which speak about witnesses without specifying man or woman.
While making a will of inheritance, two just persons are required as witnesses. In Surah Maidah chapter 5 verse 106, the Glorious Qur’an says: “Oh you who believe! When death approaches any of you, (take) witnesses among yourself when making bequests.” [Al-Qur’an 5:106] two just persons of your own (brotherhood) or from outside if you are journeying through the earth and the chance of death befalls you. [Al-Qur’an 65:2]
Two persons endued with justice in case of Talaq.
“Four witnesses are required in case of charge against chaste women, [Al-Qur’an 24:4] There are some scholars who are of the opinion that the rule of two female witnesses equal to one male witness should be applied to all the cases. This cannot be agreed upon because one particular verse of the Qur’an from Surah Noor chapter 24, verse 6 clearly equates one female witness with one male witness: “And those who launch a charge against their spouses, and have (in support) no evidence but their own — their solitary evidence can be received.” [Al-Qur’an 24:6] Hazrat Ayesha (RA), hadith narrated of one witness.
Many jurists agree that even one witness of a woman is sufficient for the sighting of the crescent of the moon. Imagine one woman witness being sufficient for one of the pillars of Islam, i.e. fasting and the whole Muslim community of men and women agree and accept her witness! Some jurists say that one witness is required at the beginning of Ramadhan and two witnesses at the end of Ramadhan. It makes no difference whether the witnesses are men or women.
Some incidents require only female witness and that of a male cannot be accepted. For instance, in dealing with the problems of women, while giving the burial bath i.e. ‘ghusl’ to a woman, the witness has to be a woman.
The seeming inequality of male and female witnesses in financial transactions is not due to any inequality of the sexes in Islam. It is only due to the different natures and roles of men and women in society as envisaged by Islam.
Question: Why non-Muslims are not allowed in the Holy cities of Makkah and Madinah?
Answer: It is true that non-Muslims are not allowed in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, by law. The following points will serve to elucidate the possible reasoning behind such a restriction.
1. All citizens are not permitted in the cantonment area.
I am a citizen of India. Yet, I am not permitted to enter certain restricted areas like the cantonment. In every country there are certain areas where a common citizen of that country cannot enter. Only a citizen who is enrolled in the military or those who are connected with the defence of the country are allowed in the cantonment area. Similarly Islam is a Universal Religion for the entire world and for all human beings. The cantonment areas of Islam are the two holy cites of Makkah and Madinah. Here only those who believe in Islam and are involved in the defence of Islam i.e. the Muslims are allowed.
It would be illogical for a common citizen to object against the restriction on entering a cantonment area. Similarly it is not appropriate for non-Muslims to object against the restriction on non-Muslims against entering Makkah and Madinah.
2. Visa to enter Makkah and Madinah
Whenever a person travels to a foreign country he has to first apply for a visa i.e. the permission to enter that country. Every country has its own rules, regulations and requirements for issuing a visa. Unless their criteria are satisfied they will not issue a visa.
One of the countries which is very strict in issuing a visa is the United States of America, especially when issuing visas to citizens of the third world. They have several conditions and requirements to be fulfilled before they issue a visa.
When I visited Singapore, it was mentioned on their immigration form — death to drug traffickers. If I want to visit Singapore I have to abide by the rules. I cannot say that death penalty is a barbaric punishment. Only if I agree with their requirements and conditions will I be permitted to enter the country.
d. The Visa, the primary condition required for any human being to enter Makkah or Madinah is to say with his lips, La ila ha illallah Muhammad ur Rasulullah meaning that ‘there is no God but Allah and Muhammad (Pbuh) is His Messenger.’
Question: How can you prove that the Qur’an is the word of God?
Answer: Normally, when I meet an atheist, the first thing I like to do is to congratulate him and say, “ My special congratulations to you”, because most of the people who believe in God are doing blind belief - he is a Christian, because his father is a Christian; he is a Hindu, because his father is a Hindu; the majority of the people in the world are blindly following the religion of their fathers. An atheist, on the other hand, even though he may belong to a religious family, uses his intellect to deny the existence of God; what ever concept or qualities of God he may have learnt in his religion may not seem to be logical to him. My Muslim brothers may question me, “Zakir, why are you congratulating an atheist?” The reason that I am congratulating an atheist is because he agrees with the first part of the Shahada i.e. the Islamic Creed, ‘La ilaaha’ - meaning ‘there is no God’. So half my job is already done; now the only part left is ‘il lallah’ i.e. ‘BUT ALLAH’ which I shall do Insha Allah. With others (who are not atheists) I have to first remove from their minds the wrong concept of God they may have and then put the correct concept of one true God.
Logical Concept of God
My first question to the atheist will be: “What is the definition of God?” For a person to say there is no God, he should know what is the meaning of God. If I hold a book and say that ‘this is a pen’, for the opposite person to say, ‘it is not a pen’, he should know what is the definition of a pen, even if he does not know nor is able to recognise or identify the object I am holding in my hand. For him to say this is not a pen, he should at least know what a pen means. Similarly for an atheist to say ‘there is no God’, he should at least know the concept of God. His concept of God would be derived from the surroundings in which he lives. The god that a large number of people worship has got human qualities -- therefore he does not believe in such a god. Similarly a Muslim too does not and should not believe in such false gods.
If a non-Muslim believes that Islam is a merciless religion with something to do with terrorism; a religion which does not give rights to women; a religion which contradicts science; in his limited sense that non-Muslim is correct to reject such Islam. The problem is he has a wrong picture of Islam. Even I reject such a false picture of Islam, but at the same time, it becomes my duty as a Muslim to present the correct picture of Islam to that non-Muslim i.e. Islam is a merciful religion, it gives equal rights to the women, it is not incompatible with logic, reason and science; if I present the correct facts about Islam, that non-Muslim may Inshallah accept Islam.
Similarly the atheist rejects the false gods and the duty of every Muslim is to present the correct concept of God which he shall Insha Allah not refuse.
(You may refer to my article, ‘Concept of God in Islam’, for more details)
The author is the president of Islamic Research Foundation, Mumbai.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.irf.net