In the twenty-first episode of his Ramadan program on the Egyptian television, the Grand Imam: “Qiwāmah is not an absolute mandate for the husband to all that his wife owns.”
The husband's guardianship to his wife is not a state of slavery but it’s rather a mandate of protection and care.
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Prof Ahmed Aṭ-Ṭayyeb, said that the meaning of qiwāmah (guardianship) is mentioned in Allah’s saying, "Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given some of them over the others." (Qur᾿ān 4:34) This is to instruct the husband to guide his wife in terms of caring for her, protecting her affairs and taking charge of her. He also demonstrated that guardianship, as already explained, is priority of relevancy and leadership, not any superiority of gender, race, or intelligence, etc.
The Grand Imam also pointed out that guardianship is not a husband’s absolute mandate over all or some of his wife’s possessions, but it is only entrusted to the husband in terms of the family affairs. To him, the parable of the family is like a ship exposed to waves and hardships. The ship must be steered by a captain to lead it to a safe haven. Similarly, the family may experience some hardships, and hence the laws come to prescribe the cure; this is represented by the husband's guardianship for the family affairs.
He then added that the concept of qiwāmah at the moment is misinterpreted and seen as an old traditional concept that only denotes despise and underestimates women. He referred to what Al-Mutnabbi stated, noting that people poorly understood some words of the Qur᾿ān, including the word qiwāmah. It is not the fault of the Qur᾿ān, but it is rather that some people have been mentally saturated with this misconception and held to it for such a long time that this behavior seemed to them the only interpretation of these verses.
The Grand Imam then concluded by saying that the husband's guardianship to his wife is not a mandate of abuse or slavery, but it’s rather a kind of protection and care. He explained that the husband’s mandate to discipline his wife is approved by the Qur᾿ān in the words of Allah: “Those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; then [if they persist], abandon them in bed; and [finally] beat them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand”. This is a type of mandate conditional to the exposure of the family to destruction and danger that may lead to divorce. Hence, Islam approves a certain guardianship for the husband that makes him correct the deviation of the family from the proper course.
The Grand Imam's program is broadcast at 6:15 p.m. daily, throughout the holy month of Ramadan. It discusses a number of Muslim family issues, the rights established in Islam for the husband and the wife, and how to preserve the family as a basis for a solid human community.