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The question of Qewamah

By Amin Dagher

There is a claim that the qewameh of men over women gives the impression that women are deficient in mind, on the basis of the verse: “Men have qewameh over women because God has made some of them excel others, and because they spend out of their property.” (4:34). Some may understand from qewameh the idea of superiority in authority or leadership, to the extent that some Quran interpreters regard that the qewameh of men over women is everything.

However, as discussed in “Interpretations inspired by the Quran”, by Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra), discussed the issue and said that this qewameh is exclusive to marital life only and that qewameh means management; and shouldering the responsibility on the physical side or the circumstances that make the man more capable than the woman in meeting the financial responsibility of their marital life, on the one hand, and that he is the one who is spending from his money, on the other.

We have also mentioned that there is no situation other than marriage in which it is obligatory on the man to meet the expenses of the woman. In addition, we said that the guardianship of the Prophet (p) and the Imam (a.s.) over all people, is without differentiation between men and women; likewise the guardianship of the scholar over those who give scholars that guardianship. The guardianship of the father as well; he is the guardian of his children, both male and female.

Therefore, the qewameh of the man over the woman based on her womanhood is non-existent, except in that she is a wife, because the husband meets her expenses and plays the management role- therefore, the qewameh is not inclusive, as some rule, but is exclusive to marital life.

And within marriage, the only difference is the man’s obligation to meet the expenses and his right of divorce; the Quran says: “and they have rights similar to those of men over them in a just manner, and the men are a degree above them” (2:228); which is in the matters of expenditure and divorce- apart from that, scholars do not rule that there is anything that attains that level of importance.

Some base their argument on what the Quran describes: “Is then one brought up among trinkets, and whom in contention is unable to be clear (in putting forward his or her argument)” (43:18). Therefore, the woman is raised wearing feminine clothes and accessories, making her more inclined towards make up and the like. But this does not make her inferior to the man as this- as can be understood from the verse- is not related to the nature of women or the nature of her approach to Islam; it is, rather, a traditional social environment that has made women like this.

Moreover, the point that we have to look into, when we study the matter, is that women were generally outside the world of education, living as an insignificant beings, or a human being of the second or third rank. This is why we find that when women started later to acquire knowledge and experience and started taking on responsibilities, they became more successful and realized themselves and their potential. We found women becoming heads of states and heads of a lot of important departments. All this means that women can develop and put things in their proper places. The human experience in all fields has given women the circumstances and opportunities to advance and develop in knowledge and management; this means that the woman is equal to the man in the ability to develop in thought, management and leadership and many may even beat man in his specialty.