Can Women Talk To Men To Whom They Are Not Related (NOT MARRIED)?

In the Qur'an we have the example of Moses (p) as he is shown to hold a conversation with two women who are not married to him yet. This conversation clearly indicates that women can talk to men who are not related to them, provided it is for important tasks only and not complacent speech, as complacency in speech is not allowed by verse 33:32. The following verses identify the conversation of Moses with the two women who are not related to him.

"And when he came to the water of Madyan, he found on it a group of men watering, and he found besides them two women keeping back (their flocks). He said: What is the matter with you? They said: We cannot water until the shepherds take away (their sheep) from the water, and our father is a very old man. So he watered (their sheep) for them, then went back to the shade and said: My Sustainer! surely I stand in need of whatever good Thou mayest send down to me.

Then one of the two women came to him walking bashfully. She said: My father invites you that he may give you the reward of your having watered for us. So when he came to him and gave to him the account, he said: Fear not, you are secure from the unjust people." (28:23-25)

The above example which depicts the conversation of a messenger of Allah with two un-married girls is a clear indicator that women can talk with men who are un related to them provided it is for important tasks only and is done within the limits ordained by Allah.

The Testimony Of A Woman

In Sura 2, verse 282 it is stated:

"O you who believe! when you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down....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 gets confused or perplexed the other can remind her..." (2:282)

Why the need for two women? The verse explains the reason by stating: "..if one of them gets confused or perplexed the other can remind her.." Here the question that comes to mind is, as to why there should be two women instead of one man? And why is it said that the women could become confused or perplexed while giving testimony? The traditionalists imply that the reason for this is that, women are less reliable and of lower mental ability then men, however this reasoning of theirs has no support from the Qur'an and is an opinion borrowed from Jewish tradition. (See Deuteronomy 22:13-21 and Numbers 5:11-31)

As far as the reliability is concerned, the Qur'an has required even of men to be two as witnesses instead of one. Does that imply that Allah does not consider men to be reliable such that the appearance and testimony of one man was not considered enough? Are both men to give evidence? This is required only so that if one of them (the men) misses any detail then the other could fill the missing information and support the testimony. In other words, it is a legal way of supporting evidence.

The requirement of two men as witnesses does not imply that men are of low reliability or have deficient mental abilities. Two witnesses are required just to consolidate the evidence. Similarly, when two women were required as witnesses instead of one man, the implication should not be unreliability. It is only a way of consolidation of the evidence and not that women are less reliable.

The Quran in other situations accepts the testimony of a woman as equal to that of a man. In fact the woman's testimony can even invalidate the man's. The Qur'an ordains that if a man accuses his wife of indecent and un-chaste behavior, then he should solemnly swear five times as evidence of the wife's guilt. If the wife denies and swears similarly five times, she is not considered guilty and her testimony will invalidate that of her husband. This is stated in the following verses:

"And (as for) those who accuse their wives and have no witnesses except themselves, the evidence of one of these (should be taken) four times, bearing Allah to witness that he is most surely of the truthful ones. And the fifth (time) that the curse of Allah be on him if he is one of the liars. And it shall avert the chastisement from her if she testify four times, bearing Allah to witness that he is most surely one of the liars. And the fifth (time) that the wrath of Allah be on her if he is one of the truthful." (24:6-9)

Regarding the question, as to why a woman can become perplexed or confused while giving evidence in public (the word used in 2:282 is which carries the meaning of perplexion or confusion.) it should be considered that in pre- Quranic societies, women were brought up in such a manner that they were incapable of expressing themselves and were inexperienced in civil affairs. The unbelievers had raised their girls in trinkets and ornaments and they were void of the ability to express themselves. The Qur'an identifies this situation:

"When news is brought to one of them of (the birth of) what he sets up as a likeness to (God) Most Gracious his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief! Is then one brought up among trinkets and unable to give a clear account in a dispute (to be associated with God)?" (43:17-18)

Even today, women in many societies are raised up in such a manner that they are incapable of expressing themselves and are very likely to get perplexed and confused if they were to appear before a court to bear testimony. It is for such a situation that the Qur'an required two women against one man to bear testimony.

Furthermore, women should not be brought up and raised in such a manner that they become incapable of expressing themselves and face the trials and tribulations of life, instead they should be well educated and conditioned to the affairs of the world so that if they are required to bear testimony, they will not become confused or perplexed and the second woman will not be required to interfere.

The interference of the second woman as a partner in testimony is conditional to the first one getting perplexed. If the first woman is able to express her self eloquently then the second woman will not be required, as is evident from the following portion of the verse under discussion:

".. IF ONE OF THEM gets confused or perplexed THEN the other can remind her.."

If the first one gets confused, it is only then, that the other one is required to remind her. If the first one does not get perplexed then the other will not be required to interfere.

The above should clarify that a woman's testimony is not equal to half that of a man's. But the Qur'an considers her testimony to be equal to that of a man's and the requirement of two women against one man is conditional to certain situations only.