Al-Hadith al-Mursal

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

Al-Hadith al-Mursal

The Mursal Hadith is that in which the Sahabi has fallen from its chain, such as when a Tabi’ee (successor) says: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) said something, or did something, or something was done or said in his presence”. The form of the Mursal Hadith is manifested when a Tabi’ee (successor) catches up with a group of Sahaba and sits with them, like Ubaydullah Ibnu Uday Ibnul Khayyar, Saeed Ibnul Musayyeb and their likes, and then says: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) said…” The prevalent opinion is that all the Tabi’een are equal. 

In other words, al-Mursal is what the Tabi’ee reports about the Messenger of Allah (saw) without mentioning the Sahabi; there is no difference between a senior Tabi’ee and a junior one because the overwhelming opinion is that they are all equal.

The Muhadditheen, the Usul scholars and the Imams differed over the authoritative merits of al-Mursal. Some of them refrain from using it as evidence and deem it like the severed Hadith, i.e. rejected. Others accept it and use it as evidence. Those who do not deem it as an authority and reject it have a reason, because a narrator in the chain is unknown and he may be untrustworthy; and since the precept in the narration consists of trustworthiness and certitude, the unknown narrator cannot be an authority. This is the reason for the rejection of al-Mursal. It is a sound reason and the rejection on its basis is also sound. However, it does not apply to the Mursal because the narrator that has fallen from its chain is a Sahabi; hence, even if his name is unknown, he is still known as a Sahabi and all the Sahaba are trustworthy; thus he cannot be untrustworthy, but rather trustworthy without a shade of a doubt. Hence, the reason cited by those who reject the Mursal Hadith does not apply in this instance and there is no other reason for rejecting it. Therefore, since the Mursal Hadith fulfils the criteria of text, chain and narrator and since the omitted from its chain is a Sahabi, whose anonymity does not matter as long as he is known to be a Sahabi, which makes him a trustworthy narrator; this indicates that the Mursal Hadith is an authority that can be used as evidence.

One may claim that the reason for rejecting the Mursal Hadith is the possibility of the Hadith being narrated by a Tabi’ee on the authority of another Tabi’ee like him on that of a Sahabi; thus the falling of the Sahabi from the chain does not mean the falling of one narrator, it rather means a severance in which it is probable that two narrators have fallen and in which only one narrator is trustworthy, namely the Sahabi, whereas the status of the other narrator remains doubtful, namely the Tabi’ee. Hence, it is rejected.

The answer to this claim is reflected in the definition of al-Mursal Hadith: “It is what the Tabi’ee reported quoting the Messenger of Allah (saw) without mentioning the Sahabi.” Hence, the report of the Tabi’ee on the authority of another unmentioned Tabi’ee does not fall into the category of al-Mursal. Even if we assumed this scenario, i.e. the scenario of the fall of the Tabi’ee coupled with the non-mentioning of the Sahabi, this would be sheer speculation; in fact it would be nothing but speculation and it does not rise to the level of probability. This is because in this scenario, it is imagined that the Hadith was reported by a Tabi’ee on the authority of another unmentioned Tabi’ee and the Sahabi is also unmentioned; i.e. it is assumed that a Tabi’ee has fallen from the chain, but there is no evidence for such an assumption, thus it is sheer speculation. Speculation is worthless and it cannot be used as a basis for a Shari’ah rule and one cannot claim that the Hadith is narrated by an unknown narrator, because there is no one to attribute the narration to so as to claim that he is unknown. Therefore the Mursal Hadith cannot be deemed as part of the rejected Ahadith; it is rather an accepted type of Hadith that can be used as evidence.

Source: Islamic Personality, Volume 1