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Usul Hadith #6: Musnad
By Mft. M. Saifur Rahman Nawhami
25 Jumada II, 1436 AH / 15 Apr 2020 CE

A musnad is a narration in which its the sanad reaches all the way to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and on first inspection their seems to be no person missing from the sanad.

Allamah Nawawi, in Taqrib1 under Musnad (topic 4), states:

  • Khatib Baghdadi states2 , 'According to the experts of Hadith, [musnad] is when the sanad is connected to the end'.
  • Allm. Ibn Salah states,3 In most cases, it is used for when something is mentioned about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and not others'.
  • Ibn Abd al-Barr states,4 'It is that which is reported from the Prophet be it muttasil5 or munqati'.
  • Hakim and others state that [Musnad] is not used except for [when a sanad is] marfu' and muttasil'

Definition 1: Broad Definition

Some define musnad as a narration in which the sanad reaches all the way to the Prophet.

Allm Suyuti 6 notes that this definition is too broad and includes any sanad irrespective if any persons where missing (marfu', mawquf, and maqtu) so long as it quoted the Prophet. Ibn Sabbagh follows suit. What is meant is that [musnad] are sanads that at least is apparently muttasil (without a missing person), hence, it could include sanads which have not apparent missing people such the report of a mudallis7 or person who from a person they could have met but actually did not.

The following sanad8 is given as example of that which is considered musnad despite there there is a being missing person in the reference.

Malik -> Zuhri -> Ibn Abbas -> Rasulullah.

It is deemed musnad because it references to the Prophet. However, it is munqati because Zuhri never met Ibn Abbas. Based on this some have said that a sanad may can be musnad and munqati' (meaning it does not need to be muttasil). Hf. Ibn Hajar points out the flaw that if that is accepted one will have to call mursal9 , mu'dhal10 or munqati'11 narrations musnad also and this is not the case.

This definition of musnad is almost synonymous with marfu'.

Definition 2: A broader definition

Some12 defines musnad as a continuous sanad irrespective if it reaches the Prophet or a source before.

This definition is uncommon and rarely is a sanad which does not reach the Prophet is referred to as a musnad.13

This definition is almost synonymous with muttasil.

Definition 3: A narrow definition

Hakim Nishapuri et al. define musnad as a narration where the sanad reaches to the Prophet and there is no person missing in the sanad. In effect a narration where the the sanad is marfu' and muttasil.

Allm. Suyuti states this to be the more correct view.14 Hf. Ibn Hajar Asqalani seems inclined towards this as he states that musnad is more specific than marfu'.

Hakim goes further and disallows even if there is an indirect reference to their being a person missing or if a narrator uses unclear wordings. Allm. Sakhkhawi15 rejects this notion as going too far and allows a sanad being deemed a musnad so long as, in the face of it, it is marfu' and muttasil even if after deeper analysis it is discovered that somebody may be missing.

This definition almost makes musnad a sub type of marfu'


Further reading

Fath al-Mugith li Sakhawi pp.181-4 v.1

Tadrib al-Rawi li Suyuti ma'a Taqrib al-Nawawi pp. 93-4 v. 1


#200415501 - Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami

  • 1p. 93 v.1
  • 2In Kifayah
  • 3Ulum al-Hadith
  • 4In Tamhid
  • 5There no persons missing in chain between the reporter to the Prophet. See topic 5.
  • 6Tadrib al-Rawi p. 93 v.1
  • 7A person who hiddenly removes a reference from their chain
  • 8Tadrib p. 93 v.1 and Fath al-Mughith p. 181 v.1
  • 9A sanad where the sahabi or tabi'i is missing
  • 10A sanad where there are two or more consecutive missing people
  • 11A sanad where there is a person overtly missing in the later generations
  • 12Fath al-Mugtith p.182 v.1
  • 13Ibid
  • 14Tadrib p. 94 v.1
  • 15Fath al-Mugith p. 183 v.1
  • Type: Note

  • Subject: Usul, Nukhbah

  • Author: M. Saifur Rahman Nawhami

  • Collection: Notebook

  • ID: 200415501

  • Updated: 05-November-2023