Ifta’ means that we put our trust into something and tell the questioner what the Shari’ah has to say with regards to their question. The principles of Ifta’ must always be followed. Mutaqaddimin (earlier) fuqaha and Usuliyyin said that one must be a Mujtahid to give fatwa. They said that a person is not allowed to issue fatwa until he knows the proofs behind a ruling. Does this condition still apply in our age? Imam Ahmad Rida Khan (1856-1921) writes that this condition was for times past. In our age, it is enough to know the rulings of Imam Abu Hanifa (as in mentioned in Qunya etc.). To give fatwa on the rulings of the Imam (Abu Hanifa) is Wajib even if the proof is not known (Fatawa Ridawiya, vol. 1, p.98). In another place, Imam Ahmad Rida writes: There are 2 types of fatwa: ‘Urfi and Haqiqi. Haqiqi is where detailed proofs are given and then a fatwa is issued. These people (who issue Haqiqi fatawa) aer known as Ashab al-Fatwa. They include Faqih Abu Ja’far and Faqih Abu al-Laith and other like them. ‘Urfi fatwa is where rulings are made known to the common folk and the proofs are not known, they just do Taqlid. It is said that Fatawa ibn Nujaym, Ghazzi, Turi and Fatawa Khairiya etc. are examples of ‘Urfi fatwa and in our age, Fatawa Ridawiya (Risala Ajilla al-A’lam which is in Fatawa Ridawiya, vol. 1, p.109). Imam Ahmad Rida also writes: In our age, the job of the Mufti is to narrate the sayings of our Shuyukh (vol. 1, p.109). The Tabi’i, ‘Ata ibn Sabik said that I have seen people who would shake whilst writing fatawa. Nowadays, each and everyone, after reading a few books thinks himself to be a capable Mufti. Imam Ahmad Rida writes: Like Tibb (medicine), Ifta’ is not just learnt by reading. One must spend time with specialists to attain it. ‘Ilm al-Fatwa is not gained by reading until a long time is spent with a specialist (vol. 10, p.231). Imam ibn ‘Abidin Shami has labelled such a person a ‘Jahil’ who issues fatawa without gaining expertise with a teacher. Imam Ahmad Rida writes: The ‘ulema state that a Mufti must issue fatwa upon the verdict of the Imam and a Qadi must always try to issue verdicts according to the rulings of the Imam unless he has a genuine reason not to (vol. 2, p.272). Imam Ahmad Rida wrote a treatise, Ajilla al-A’lam ‘anil fatwa mutlaqan ‘ala qawl al-Imam in which he discussed the matter of issuing fatwa on the rulings of Imam Abu Hanifa. In this treatise, Imam Ahmad Rida quotes from the fatwa of ‘Allama ibn Shibli thus: It is not permissible for a Qadi or a Mufti to ignore the rulings of the Imam unless someone from amongst the Masha’ikh says that the fatwa is upon the ruling of other than Abu Hanifa. If on any mas’ala, the ruling of the others is not better and the proofs of the Imam have precedence, then it is not allowed for a Qadi to give a ruling other than that of the Imam (Ajilla al-A’lam). Imam Ahmad Rida also writes: The research scholars (muhaqqiqin) say that it is Wajib to issue rulings according to the rulings of the Ima even if the Sahibayn have a different ruling and even if the Mash’ikh of the Madhhab give fatwa on the rulings of the Sahibayn. (vol. 3, p.671). If on any mas’ala there is a difference of opinion, then in what order should the verdict be given? Imam Ahmad Rida writes: Firstly, Imam Abu Hanifa, then Imam Abu Yusuf, then Imam Muhammad, then Imam Zufar, then Imam Hasan ibn Ziyad. This is in Durr al-Mukhtar (vol. 4, p.473). If on any mas’ala, the qawl of the Imam is not present, then we take the dhahir qawl of Imam Abu Yusuf, then the dhahir qawl of Imam Muhammad, then Imam Zufar and Hasan etc. First we take the qawl of the elders, then those that follow in order (Ajilla al-A’lam).