(1) When the need arises to obtain a Shar’i ruling for one’s practical purposes, not for debating and arguing, then pose the question to a reliable, authoritative Aalim on whom you have confidence.
(2) Ask only the mas’alah (the rule or the law). Do not ask the daleel (the proof of the rule or the basis on which the ruling is given).
(3) Once a question has been posed to a reliable and an authoritative Aalim, do not unnecessarily ask the same question to another Aalim. If, despite having taken into consideration the aforementioned facts, you are not satisfied with the answer, then refer the matter to another Aalim of the same qualifications and attributes. If his answer contradicts the answer of the first Aalim, do not refer it to him (the first Aalim) nor inform the second Aalim of
The reply of the first Aalim. Fear Allah Ta’ala and remembering the
Reckoning of the Aakhirah, act according to the answer which satisfies you. This act of choosing between the two contradictory rulings for one’s practical purposes may be resorted to only if one had heard or learnt of something conflicting against this view prior to having referred it to another Aalim.
These are the aadaab which should be remembered whether the istiftaa’ is written or verbal.
(4) The question should be posed very clearly, without ambiguity, and so should be the writing: clear and legible.
(5) Do not include futile and unnecessary statements in the question.
(6) Write your name and address clearly. If several letters are written to the same place seeking answers, then write your name and address on each letter.
(7) Send sufficient stamps to cover postage on a suitable self-addressed envelope.
(8) If several questions are asked, do not write these on a postcard.
(9) Number the questions and keep a copy by you.
Inform the addressee that you have a copy of the letter, hence he should not take the trouble of repeating the questions in his answer.
ERRORS IN GENERAL:
(1) Some people refer the same question to several places. Sometimes different answers are received. They are then faced with the dilemma of adopting one of the conflicting answers. Alternatively, they simply adopt the ruling which appeals to their nafs. This attitude sometimes develops into a habit and the motive for posing questions is merely to obtain a ruling to soothe the nafs. It is quite obvious that such an attitude is contrary to piety and is purely obedience to the desires of the nafs. In addition it constitutes mocking at the Deen.
(2) Sometimes the answer of one Aalim is conveyed to another Aalim. In view of temperaments differing and because of the style of the narrator in conveying the answer, sometimes an inappropriate statement or word slips from the mouth of the one to whom the answer has been conveyed. Then, in turn this statement is conveyed to the first person who had answered the question. In the passage of such messages and statements to and fro, words and meanings are changed by the carriers of the comments. In this manner the flames of a great controversy are ignited.
(3) One error is to ask unnecessary questions.
(4) It is wrong to ask for the dalaa-il (proofs or basis) of the masaa-il. Academic knowledge is necessary for a correct comprehension of the dalaa-il. Since this is lacking, the dalaa-il are not properly understood by laymen. When the Aalim refuses to provide the proofs, the questioner interprets the refusal as ill-manners.
(5) Another error is to acquire a fatwa (ruling) merely to substantiate one’s views which one had presented in a discussion. The fatwa is then displayed to the antagonist merely to silence him. In turn he writes for a fatwa to substantiate his case. In this manner a tug of war, leading to mutual dispute, rivalry and ill-feeling is initiated.