Hadith on Women: Prohibition of Inheriting Women Against Their Will

📖Sahih al-Bukhari 6948
Narrated Ibn `Abbas: Regarding the Qur’anic Verse: ‘O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will.’ (4.19) The custom (in the Pre-lslamic Period) was that if a man died, his relatives used to have the right to inherit his wife, and if one of them wished, he could marry her, or they could marry her to somebody else, or prevent her from marrying if they wished, for they had more right to dispose of her than her own relatives. Therefore this Verse was revealed concerning this matter.

  • The hadith narrated by Ibn `Abbas explains the context and significance of a verse from the Quran (Surah An-Nisa, 4:19) that addresses the believers and forbids them from inheriting women against their will. It sheds light on a prevailing custom during the pre-Islamic era where the relatives of a deceased man had the right to inherit his wife. They could choose to marry her themselves, marry her off to someone else, or prevent her from remarrying. This custom gave the deceased husband’s relatives more control over the woman’s fate than her own family. The revelation of the mentioned verse brought about a significant change. It clarified that it is not permissible for believers to inherit women by compulsion or force them into unwanted marriages. This prohibition aimed to protect the rights and autonomy of women, ensuring that they are not treated as mere property or objects of inheritance.

What We Learn from this Hadith:

  1. Respect for Women’s Autonomy: This hadith teaches us the importance of respecting the autonomy and free will of women. It highlights that women have the right to make their own choices regarding marriage and that their consent must be sought and valued.
  2. Protection of Women’s Rights: Islam places great emphasis on safeguarding the rights and dignity of women. This hadith demonstrates the Quranic guidance aimed at eliminating unjust customs that deprived women of their agency and subjected them to the whims of others.
  3. Social Reform: The revelation of this verse represents one of the many social reforms brought about by Islam. It aimed to rectify societal practices that undermined women’s rights and establish a more equitable and just society.

Overall, this hadith serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding women’s rights, respecting their autonomy, and working towards a society that ensures equality and justice for all.