Munqata’ As–Sanad (A Cut In The Chain Of Narrators)
Definition: This is the opposite of ‘Ittisal as-Sanad’ (continuity of the chain of narrators), for in this case there is inqita‘ (a cut/break/discontinuity) in the isnad.
Types: There are four types of inqita (cuts) that can occur in a sanad:
- Mursal (Loose): – This is an chain where there is a cut between a Tabi’een (Successor) and the Prophet of Allaah (ﷺ) i.e. when a Tabi’een says: “The Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) said…” This terminology is also used in the case where it is known that a Sahabah (Companion) skips the Sahaba from whom he heard the hadeeth and quotes directly from the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ).
- Mu’allaq (Hanging): – This is an chain where the Muhadeeth collecting the hadeeth (e.g. Imaam Abu Dawud, etc) misses out his Shaykh (i.e. his immediate authority) whom he narrated from. This terminology is also used when the muhadeeth collecting the hadeeth misses out the whole isnad and quotes directly from the Prophet of Allaah (ﷺ) e.g. Narrated Imaam Bukhari (Rahimahullaah): The statement of the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ): “(O Allaah!) If I should harm somebody, let that be a means of purification and mercy for him.”
- Mu’dal (perplexing): – This is an isnad which has 2 or more narrators consecutively missing anywhere in it e.g. From ibn Abee Haatim: From Ja’far ibn Ahmad ibn al-Hakam al-Qurashi: From Sulayman ibn Mansur ibn ‘Ammar: From ‘Ali ibn ‘Asim: From Sa’eed: From Qatadah: Narrated Ubayy ibn Ka’b (Radiyallaahu anhu): The Prophet of Allaah (ﷺ) said: “After Adam had tested from the tree, he ran away, but the tree caught his hair. It was proclaimed: ‘O Adam! Are you running away from Me?’ He said: ‘No, but I feel ashamed before You.’ He said: O Adam! Go away from My Neighbourhood, for by My Honour, no one who disobeys Me can live near Me; even if I were to create people like you numbering enough to fill the earth and they were to disobey Me, I would make them live in a home of sinners.’” Hafiz Ibnul Katheer (d.744H) Rahimahullaah remarks: “This is a ghareeb (scarce) hadeeth. There is inqita‘ (discontinuity), in fact there is i’dal (consecutive discontinuity) between Qatadah and Ubayy ibn Ka’b (Radiyallaahu anhumaa)”
- Munqata’ (cut/discontinuity): – This is an isnad where there is one or more narrators missing in it, however, the omission is not consecutive e.g. From Al-Hakim: From Muhammad ibn Mus’ab: From Al-Awza’i: From Shaddad Aboo ’Ammar: Narrated Umm Fadl bint Al-Harith (Radiyallaahu anha): “I came to The Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) and said: ‘I have seen in a vision last night as if a part of your body was cut and placed in my lap.’ He said: ‘You have seen something good. Allah Willing, Fatimah (Radiyallaahu anha) will give birth to a lad who will be in your lap.’ After that Fatimah (Radiyallaahu anha) gave birth to Hussayn (Radiyallaahu anhu), who used to be in my lap, in accordance with the statement of The Prophet of Allaah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam). One day, I came to The Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) and placed Hussayn (Radiyallaahu anhu) in his lap. I noticed that both his eyes were shedding tears. He said: ‘Jibril (‘Alayhis- Salam) came to me and told me that my Ummah will kill this son of mine and he brought me some of the reddish dust of that place (i.e. where he will be killed).’”3
Imaam Adh-Dhahabi (d.748H) Rahimahullaah said: “This hadeeth is munqati’ and da’eef because Shaddad never met Umm Fadl (Radiyallaahu anha) and Muhammad ibn Mus’ab is weak.”4
The term Munqata’ can generally be used to describe all the different cuts and gaps discussed in this chapter.
The Ruling: The ‘Munqata’ as-Sanad’ (i.e. a chain of narrators which has a cut/gap in it) is totally rejected due to the fact that the missing narrator is unknown. Therefore, his status cannot be established (i.e. whether he is trustworthy or unreliable, good or bad in memory, just or a sinner, etc). However, there are some exceptions to this general principle:
- The mursal of a Companion [i.e. where a Companion skips the Companion from whom he heard from and quotes directly from the Prophet of Allaah (ﷺ)]. This is due to the fact that missing out a Companion does not affect the status of the hadeeth, since all the Companions are known to be thiqah (trustworthy) and ’adal (reliable/just).1
- The mursal of the ‘Kibaar Tabi’een’ (Senior/Elder Successors) e.g. Sa’eed ibn Musayyib (d.94H), ’Urwah ibn Zubayr (d.94H), Ata ibn ’Alee Rabah (d.114H), etc. And also if it is supported by another mursal hadeeth, action or qiyas (analytical deduction) of the Sahabas (Radiyallaahu anhum).
- The mu’allaq ahadeeth which are recorded in the books that are known with certainty to be authentic e.g. the Saheeh of Imaam Bukhari and Imaam Muslim (Rahimahumullaah).
- A hadeeth which has 2 isnads, one of them is munqata’ (discontinuous) and the other is muttasail (continuous). So if the continuous isnad fulfills all the criteria to make it saheeh or hasan, then the hadeeth will be accepted.
 The Mu’allaq isnad is also known as ‘Balaghah’ (to reach) e.g. Imaam Maalik (d.179H) Rahimahullaah sometimes states in ‘Al-Muwatta’: “It reached me that The Messenger of Allaah (‘Alahyi sallatu wa salam)said …”
 Recorded in Bukhari
 Tafseer al-Qur’an al- Atheem by Ibn Katheer (d.744H) Rahimahullaah Vol.1 pg.