The testimony of women

Surah 2 (Al-Baqarah/The Cow): 282

O you who have believed, when you contract a debt for a specified term, write it down. And let a scribe write (it) between you in justice.

Let no scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him. So let him write and let the one who has the obligation dictate.

And let him fear Allah, his Lord, and not leave anything out of it.

But if the one who has the obligation is of limited understanding or weak or unable to dictate himself, then let his guardian dictate in justice.

And bring to witness two witnesses from among your men. And if there are not two men (available), then a man and two women from those whom you accept as witnesses – so that if one of the women errs, then the other can remind her.

And let not the witnesses refuse when they are called upon.

And do not be (too) weary to write it, whether it is small or large, for its (specified) term.

That is more just in the sight of Allah and stronger as evidence and more likely to prevent doubt between you, except when it is an immediate transaction which you conduct among yourselves. For (then) there is no blame upon you if you do not write it.

And take witnesses when you conclude a contract. Let no scribe be harmed or any witness. For if you do so, indeed, it is (grave) disobedience in you.
And fear Allah.

And Allah teaches you.

And Allah is Knowing of all things.


{2.282} (which happens to be the longest verse in the Qur’an) directs, amongst other things, that the record of a debt should ideally be witnessed by two men, but that, should two men not be available, an attestation by one man and two women may suffice. The verse also provides a reason for this gender preference, namely that women have a greater tendency to forgetfulness than men.
Although the literal scope of the rule is limited to records of debt, some schools of Islamic jurisprudence have drawn broader evidential rules from this verse including the inadmissibility of women’s testimony on most matters and a legal presumption that, where testimonies conflict, a woman’s testimony be afforded half the weight afforded to that of a man.


See also the exemption of husbands’ accusations against their wives from the ‘four witness rule‘ regarding allegations of sexual impropriety 〈67.〉