Is a woman’s testimony half of that of a man?


A sister is interested in providing testimonies for the new crescent moon sightings for the UK, The org. claims that she must cover her hair, and that her testimony as a woman is only half a testimony. (The lady in question is a lawyer. And she’s not had this type of response from a Muslim organization before).

Would you please provide us with a detailed answer on this issue?


After reading your query, I can only conclude that these people are parroting opinions written in old jurisprudence texts. If they exercised critical thinking, they could not arrive at such conclusions.

When it comes to such issues we can find a range of views, arising from differing interpretations of the sources.

In order to form a clear and objective opinion on the issue, one must ask: Does the Quran establish the principle that a woman’s testimony is akin to half that of a man?

No one who studies the text and context of the Quran would come to that conclusion. Eminent scholars of both the past and the present have concluded that this opinion was specific to financial transactions, which were not the forte of women at that time, since women back then were not often engaged in such matters.

Hence, this opinion cannot be applied generally, and certainly not when women are as experienced as men. Today women are active in all spheres of professional life, chairing boards and presiding over major corporations. How could one then diminish a woman’s testimony under the rationale that if she were to forget, her colleague could remind her?

Furthermore, there are areas where only women’s testimony is acceptable, or is weighted more than that of men. Such is the case with issues specific to women, for example.

There is no basis for extending the limiting opinion to reporting moon-sightings. First of all, reporting and testifying are two different matters. No one claims that a woman’s report is less reliable than a man’s – how could one do so when most of the critical aspects of the Prophet’s personal life come from his wives such as Aisha and others? No one has ever said that her report is half that of a man. Her narrations were valued more than that of other companions and given precedence over other companions. Eminent successors have pointed out that they preferred reports from Aisha over those of other companions when faced with conflicting narrations.

Hence, as many scholars have ruled, there is no reason to discriminate between men and women regarding moon-sighting reports.

Scholars who choose contrary rulings on this issue do not do so based on clear evidence in the sources; instead, they are based on subjective (and quite possibly biased) opinions, which are reflective of discriminatory attitudes towards women prevalent in their time or society.

The other issue raised in this question is whether the organisation has the right to insist that the sister wear the hijab.

I would venture to state that by insisting on this they are acting more like medieval papal authorities than scholars applying the Divine Law by considering its spirit and intent.

In closing I will add: Such actions will only turn people away from Islam.