A hadith musalsal is a hadith that contains an extra element of information about the way the hadith was being transmitted at every link of the chain. The word musalsal means ‘in a chain’ or ‘made into a chain.’
And tasalsul means ‘the process of becoming a chain’ and refers to the extra element of information that is narrated about how the hadith is being narrated. wAllahu a’lam.
Abu Abdallah Muhammad al-Talib bin Hamdun said in his Hashiya:
‘The scholars of hadith have a hadith musalsal in the munawala (holding or giving) of the sibha that we have narrated from a group of shuyukh, and it ends with al-Hasan al-Basri.’
Here is a translation of this hadith as well as an introduction to the musalsal hadiths by imam Muhammad ibn Ali al-Sanusi in Al-Musalsalaat al-’ashr:
Imam Muhammad ibn Ali al-Sanusi, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
Bism Allah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our master Muhammad and his family and companions.
Know that the musalsal hadiths are from the greatest of what is heard, and the best of what is narrated, because they contain extra precision and care. Abu Abd Allah al-Hakim said:
Tasalsul is a kind of apparent audition over which there is no doubt, and it is either about the description of the narrating of the hadith, or the description of the narrator, or the descriptions of the place of the narrating or the description of the time of narrating. Among the virtues of tasalsul is that it includes more precision from the narrators. The musalsal hadiths are rarely free of weakness, that is in the description of the tasalsul, not in the matn (i.e. the hadith) itself. The best of the musalsal hadiths is what has an indication of the continuation of the audition and the absence of talbees (mistakes/delusions about the way of narration).
Know that more than two hundred musalsal hadiths have reached us, most of which we have mentioned in Fahrasat al-Shumoos, but here we have limited ourselves to ten for the sake of brevity and to make it easier for them to become widespread. And know that it has been their custom to begin with the hadith al-musalsal bil-awwaliyya, which is the “hadith of rahma.”
As for the sixth musalsal hadith, with the munawala (holding or giving) of the sibha (rosary), I was told it by a group of my mashaykh with their isnads to Abu Salim al-’Ayyashi who said:
I was given and told by sayyidi Abu Mahdi al-Tha’aalibi,
from sayyidi Sa’eed Qaddoora,
from sayyidna Sa’eed al-Maghrebi,
from sayyidi Ahmad Hajji,
from sayyidi Muhammad al-Wahrani,
from sayyidi Ibrahim at-Tazi, who said:
I was told by the imam Abu al-Fath Zayn al-Abidin al-Uthmani as an ijaza that he spoke to me, saying:
I was told by Abu al-Abbas Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Raddad and I saw in his hand a sibha, he said:
I was told by al-qadi Majd ad-Din Abu Tahir Muhammad ibn Ya’qoub bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim al-Bakri as-Siddiqui, and in his hand was a sibha, he said:
I was told by Jamal ad-Din Yusef bin Muhammad as-Sarmary, and in his hand was a sibha, he said:
I read (qara’tu) at the hands of Taqiyy al-Din Abil Thana Mahmoud bin Ali, and I saw in his hand a sibha, he said:
I was told by al-qadi Majd ad-Din Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi al-Husayn al-Muqri, and I saw in his hand a sibha, he said:
I read at the hands of my father and in his hand was a sibha, he said:
I read at the hands of Abu al-Fadl Muhammad bin Nasir and in his hand was a sibha, he said:
I read at the hands of Abu Muhammad Abdallah bin Ahmad as-Samarqandi, and in his hand was a sibha, and he said:
I said to him: I listened to Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Ali as-Sallami and saw in his hand a sibha, he said: yes. He said:
I saw Abu al-Hasan Ali bin al-Hasan bin al-Qasim as-Sufi, and in his hand was a sibha, he said:
I listened to Abu al-Hasan al-Maliki say: I saw in his hand a sibha, so I said: Oh teacher, and until now you are with the sibha?
He said: likewise, and I have seen my teacher al-Junayd and in his hand was a sibha, so I said likewise, and he said: likewise, and
I have seen Sari bin al-Mughallas, so I said likewise, and he said: likewise,
I saw Ma’ruf so I asked him what you asked me about, so he said:
likewise I saw Bishr al-Hafi so I asked him, he said:
likewise I saw Umar al-Makki and in his hand was a sibha, so I asked him what you asked me about,
I saw my teacher al-Hasan al-Basri and in his hand was a sibha, so I said:
Oh my teacher, with your greatness and the beauty of your worship, you still carry the sibha?
He said: “This is something we used in our beginnings, we would not leave it in our ends, I love to do dhikr of Allah Most High with my hands, my heart, and my tongue.”
Shaykh Abu al-Abbas Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Raddad said:
It becomes known from the saying of al-Hasan al-Basri that the sibha was existent and used in the era of the Sahaba, may Allah be pleased with them, because he said: “this is something we used in our beginnings,” and the beginnings of al-Hasan where without doubt with the Companions of Rasool Allah, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, for he was born when there were two years left to the khilaafa of Umar may Allah be pleased with him, and he saw Uthman, Ali, and Talha, may Allah be pleased with them, and he was present on the day of the house in the story of Uthman, and he was 14 years old at the time. And he narrated from Uthman, Ali, Imran bin al-Husayn, Mi’qal ibn Yasar, Abi Bakra, Abi Musa, Ibn Abbas, Jabir ibn Abdallah, and many Companions, may Allah be pleased with them.
[Al-Sanusi, al-Musalsalat al-‘ashr]
Note: the above hadith musalasal tells us that imam al-Junayd was asked about carrying the sibha, a question very similar to what was asked of al-Hasan al-Basri, and this is also transmitted to us in another narration quoted by Ibn Kathir in Al-Bidaya wal-nihaya, in his brief biography of the imam there.
He said: “His daily wird was 300 rak’as and thirty thousands tasbihs…. And someone saw him with a masbaha and said to him: ‘With your great honor, you take a masbaha?’
He said: ‘A path with which I reached Allah, I will not leave.’
And his uncle al-Sari said to him: ‘Teach the people,’ but he did not see himself worthy of it, so he saw in his sleep the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) who said to him: ‘Teach the people.’ So he went to his uncle who said to him: ‘You did not listen to me, until you were told it by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him!)
So he began teaching the people, and a Christian youth came to him, dressed and looking like a Muslim, and said to him:
‘Oh Abul Qasim, what is the meaning of the Prophet’s saying (peace and blessings be upon him!) “Beware the firaasa (spiritual insight) of the believer, for he sees with the light of Allah” ? ‘- Narrated by at-Tirmidhi.
So al-Junayd looked down, then raised his head to him and said: ‘Become a Muslim, for it is time for you to become Muslim!’
And the youth became a Muslim.”
(Al-Bidaya wal-nihaya, vol 11, on the events of 298 A.H.)