Stylistic changes in foundational evidence

One of the patterns you’ll see in later Shafiʿis books is that when introducing a topic’s foundation evidence, the author will say

“The foundation for it, prior to consensus is [the Quran]…”

(والأصل فيه قبل الإجماع [من الكتاب]…)

instead of the pattern found in earlier books, where they’ll start with the Quran, then the Sunnah, and then consensus:

“The foundation for it from…”

(والأصل فيه من…)

The first pattern emphasizes certainty in meaning – since if there’s consensus, it’s *usually* no longer open to ijtihad – and transmission. The second pattern goes in order of the greatness and authority of the source.

So… when did the Shafiʿis make the transition from one pattern to the other?

The first instance I could find using Shamela is in Kifāyat al-nabīh by Ibn Ruf’at (d710AH). He mentions it five times, with the first instance being (3:61).

The only instances I found in other schools was Ibn Muflih al-Hanbali (d884), who mentions it twice in Al-Mubdiʿ (3:280, 4:3).

D O E S * I T * M A T T E R * ?

Probably not. But if you’re a serious reader, you should keep your eye open for these sorts of things. Noticing patterns and connections suggests you’re getting somewhere. And little boosts like that can make a major difference in plodding through.

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