O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.
According to one of the interpretations advanced by Zamakhshari, this refers to a man’s
forcibly keeping an unloved wife – and thus preventing her from marrying another man – in
the hope of inheriting her property under the provisions specified in the first sentence
of verse 12 above. Some authorities, however, are of the opinion that the meaning is:
“It is not lawful for you to inherit women against their will” – thus expressing a
prohibition of the pre-Islamic custom of inheriting the wives of deceased near relatives.
But in view of the fact that Islam does not permit the “inheriting” of women under any
circumstances (and not only “against their will”), the former interpretation is infinitely
Abdullah Yusuf Ali writes,
Another trick, to detract from the freedom of
married women was to treat them badly and force them
to sue for a Khul’a divorce (see 2:229, n. 258) or
its equivalent in pre-Islamic custom, when the dower
could be claimed back. This is also forbidden. Or
the harshness may be exercised in another way: a
divorced woman may be prevented by those who have
control of her, from remarrying unless she remits her
All kinds of harshness are forbidden.
Asad, Muhammad (1980). The Message of the Quran. http://www.islamicweblibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/55877864-54484011-Message-of-Quran-Muhammad-Asad-Islam-Translation.pdf